My father, who has recently just become interested in the usage of text messaging, sent me a photo the other day of a painting he started. Now, to anyone outside of my family, so what, right?
No, this is big. My father hasn’t painted in some thirty-years, and I’ve been trying to get him back into it ever since. I won’t get into his backstory, as I have before, but in a nutshell: he let go of it.
I would watch him sketch every now and then, simple and little things. Nothing more than a five minute doodle, and it would be rare if we ever got to that point.
I would buy him oil-paints and other sets, giving them to him for Christmas, his birthday, or Father’s Day; but alas, nothing. Questioning him lead to no where, other than excuses. I started looking back into my past and the relationship I had with him. How competitive we would get when it came to art or what I was showing him. I always thought that I was doing something wrong with my art, as I could never seem to truly impress him. But maybe it was because he saw a path he ignored.
So over the years, I let it go and allowed it to fade away. I stopped pushing him when it came to art, and figured if he were to do it one day, then he would. He eventually did bring it up with me, and told me that at times he wondered what it would have been like. What if he became an animator or an illustrator? What if he chose to work on films instead of becoming a banker?
Then here we are, and he sends me a photo of his first painting. And then I start to see more photos of him from my step-mother’s Instagram, and her Facebook. Photos of him two-inches from a canvas, painting away. When I went to visit, he asked us numerous times what we thought of the painting and if we liked it. I could see myself being mirrored. That lust to create, and that reassurance that we’re doing everything okay.
I feel that’s what every artist must go through. We all want to create and build worlds to share with others, but it’s that lingering question that sometimes breaks us apart: do people enjoy this and should I continue? I felt it so many times while working on my book LMS, and it nearly collapsed the project.
My father didn’t hang on. He had his reasons, which I’ll keep between him and I, but he let go and followed another path. And I hate that he had to go through those thirty years not touching a paint brush or releasing the talent or imagination he had.
I asked him how he felt and why it took so long? Now I could see a man that I once viewed as pretty serious, now laughing, making jokes. Hell, he wrote LOL. And to this day, he’s still painting, still sending pictures, and for the first time in a very long while, my Father and I have something to communicate on and relate with, and I couldn’t be happier.
The road and journey isn’t for anyone, and like my father, it makes you no less a person. Just never lose sight of your passion, regardless of what career you take.
Props to your dad. What a wonderful story. And, while it may seem like your earlier gifts of art supplies may have missed their mark — I have little doubt they were quietly planting seeds of possibility in your dad's heart.
Kudo's to you and your father. It's your prodding that made it possible for him to let go and return to painting. My wife has recently quit real estate after twenty five years and become a full time artist. She just sold two of her paintings in the gallery and is working like crazy. I have watched with delight as the little child in her has bubbled up as she let go and explored. The only problem now is the studio is getting crowded with both our work. Thanks
Thanks for the post Dan. I needed that.
You are awesomesauce.
Can we see your father's painting?
I've had an estranged relationship with my Dad for years. We've been talking and visiting for the last 12 years or so and the one thing we have a common frame of reference on… is art. My dad got me back into painting and so we love to go art exhibits etc. Your post really resonates with me.
I am truly glad you shared this story with us, and also I am happy that I read it. I am in this moment in the same situation as your father was. I painted for a long time, but lately, every time I want to start something, I lack motivation and I wonder why would I do it, what will be the point of it? So I don't start anything, and if somehow I start something, I am not going to finish it. Right now, I wait for that moment when the I will feel again the urge to paint something, anything, just to hold the brush and use it, and hope I won't be disappointed in my waiting. You just keep the good work (or art) going, because you're a great artist.
Wish I could share that with my father. I got the art gene from him but he's not around.
Thank you for this story, the right thing for me to read right now.
If I would stop trying to learn painting, I would probably have a similar post from my daughter in 20 years:)
Thanks Daniel, this post of yours will keep me hanging on.