Sunday, 29 July 2012

“Finishing Well”

Another thing I’ve been learning is “finishing better”.

I had an Uncle who in his old age became sickly, and as he approached life’s end, began to talk more and more about “finishing well”. He began to spend much more time with his family. He worked at making things right in his relationships with them, expressing his love for them, plus asking for forgiveness for any neglect or mistakes he’d made as a father and husband. It made a huge difference. For now the family, in his illness gathered around him and gave him love and support in return.

The surface texture of each piece of sculpture has a lot to do with what the work communicates. Some need to be rough, others smother or very smooth. It is important to carefully consider this surface as it must be in unity with and accentuate the message or voice of the piece. Once it has been made, it cannot be changed. Therefore it is important to make sure we do this “finishing well”.

The “Foxy David 2” in the picture above is now being prepared for firing. It will have two distinct finishes. The head is a fox-head with a finish reflecting a surface or finish of fur. The rest of the piece like the spy-glass of metal and glass, plus the clothing will have a smooth finish. The reason the clothing should be smooth is because he is a king, sitting on the roof of his house in his rich soft evening cloths. The tombstone, in reality, will also be smooth.

How is this done? By a combination of three ways. First is simply wetting the surface and your fingers and rubbing the surface smooth. Another is the use of that good old shammy you use for washing the car. This is an excellent tool to smooth out a piece near or at the leather hard stage.  

Thirdly, there is the old technique of sanding. Wait till the whole piece is bone dry, get the kind of sandpaper you want, rough or fine and go to it. Except, you will need a mask as you do not want to breath in that fine clay dust. Danger, danger! Also, as you proceed with the sanding you will have this fine dust laying around so a vacuum is suggested. I already have chosen a smaller compact vacuum (being a cleaning company) which I will be “placing strategically” in my studio for just this purpose. You may also need a brush to remove dust from the piece together with the vacuuming.

Usually it is not just a one or the other kind of thing. I find that as I progress with the piece I’m spending a lot of time working on the surface using all of these techniques. When it’s bone dry, I have one final opportunity to “finish well”. I will have done some test pieces having to do with the colouring, so also considering that, I turn the piece on its lazy susan and do what has to be done to the surface to bring it to completion.  

Ceramics is very resilient and will basically last forever. Each piece will have a life and journey of its own. That alone is enough to shock me into realising again how important it is to carefully think through and reflect on the creative process of each peace.

So as it is with life, we will also live forever and as my uncle realised there would come a time when no more “corrections” would be possible. Nearing the end, he made sure he did what he could to “finish well.” while he still had the chance to do so.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day.”
Genesis 1:31

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Change of Pace

Two things have happened forcing me to change things up a bit.

First, it has been the heat. We’ve been having a stretch of warm temperatures in the +30 to 33 or so degree C range. And often muggy. With the humid-ex it’s at times been like +44 degrees C! Now, I’m not complaining as I’m appreciative of every degree of warmth we can get. Winter is coming too soon. But it sure is tough on my plants. But I digress, with this kind of temperature it’s been very tough getting much of anything done in the studio. You see, it's on the second floor and no air conditioning! I’ve been able to spend not more than two hours at a time there these past 3 or 4 weeks. One time I arrived to discover one of our artists was firing something in the kiln! So much for doing anything that day!

So, what can one do if you cannot go to the studio?

The second thing that has happened is that I had already determined I needed to slow down and go through a more reflective and studied way of formulating ideas and creating my pieces. Due to the short time I’d had available to create a body of work for my first showing at the Mennonite Heritage Centre, (Seven months to be exact!) I’d been so focused on simply creating whatever came to my head in a big hurry. There were only a few pieces that I’d actually done a “study” of the idea before tackling the piece for the showing. For others there were some rough sketches at best, but for most of them I just began the piece and made adjustments, decisions and corrections as I went along. Well, now I had time to do exactly that, reflect on my future pieces. The pressure is off. I now have a body of work. I decided to make a list of works I want to do, prioritise them and begin thinking and working on them one by one.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, I went to see Norman Rockwell’s brother talk about Norman’s work and the process he went through to create his paintings. Let me put it this way. He was to create one painting per month, 12 per year. Of the 30 plus years he worked at this he managed it in only two of those years. Usually, he made only 8 or 9 paintings a year.

It is clear that I must pay much more respect to my subject, consider it carefully and give it all the creative consideration I can. I must feel that I’ve done my best at each level of the process and that I’m ready to go on to the next, till the piece is done. What I need to do and how long that takes will be different for each piece, but it must be “enough” for me in my thinking. Let me also say, this is still a learning process for me as I cannot even say today what the steps I should really do to create a piece.

For example, above you see a quick sketch of an idea. I have been asked to speak and show some pieces at a lecture series on “Forgiveness and Mental Health” in Oct. What kind of piece would I do for that event? As I considered this I could not help but of think about king Saul, the demonised king who "tutored" David showing him all the things you should not do to become a prince and a king. You may remember the series “Game of Thrones” on TV. I saw possibly one or two shows of that series, but I was very impressed with that throne made of swords. In thinking of this theme I remembered how Saul was unforgiving and how slowly the roots of anger and bitterness took over his mind. He became moody, depressed and angry. Remember David played the harp to sooth him during his fits. Once Saul threw a spear at him trying to pin him to the wall! Well, what if I did an example of “un-forgiveness” with Saul sitting on a throne, not of swords but of roots, roots of bitterness, which he’d made a throne of in his life. Meaning bitterness ruled his life and was the reason for his destruction. Just to hammer the point home, I though I'd also give him a satanic snake head, shades of the garden of Eden.

So, I already know I need to do more research and more sketches for this project. You see, I need to know what he should wear. So there is research to be done. Plus some other nuances, like the roots wrapping around his arms and legs would be interesting. 

Now, you know this is just the beginning of the process. When I know what I need to do next I will let you know.

“Desire without knowledge is not good-
          how much more will the hasty feet miss the way”
Proverbs 19:2 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Subtle Re-alignment Necessary...

The new piece "Project Angel" revealed...

I’m still chewing on my presentation last Tuesday night.

I have a certain “default” in my brain. From day one my talks have, and I think I can say “all”, have all been faith based in orientation, one way or anther. It’s those “Homiletic” classes that have done that to me!

In my art talk I again used faith as my baseline of thought. Now, please hear me, there is nothing wrong with faith being involved in my or any talk, but as an artist doing an “art talk” it would be important to have one’s art history and experience as the backbone of the presentation. If I was speaking from the church pulpit, that would be different. But if I’m at an art gallery, sharing an art talk, I’m thinking “art” should be the baseline. Duh!

OK, so then, I could speak of the “influences” on my art along that basic art time-line history. Here are the things like my Mennonite background, and the murder of our daughter to mention two things suppressed my art and in various ways. How did I overcome these? Here are the things, people and events that encouraged my art, here are the different influences that affected my art and how they affected it. This would include teachers, other artists, family and events. Plus then also how my faith affected my art. And so on.

So, since Tuesday night, I have been working out a detailed history of my art experience and journey. This has been very revealing, realising how I’ve evolved artistically. For example my cartoon projects and strips are a great help in explaining how it is that my work has an unmistakable cartoony influence. How, later seeing a gallery showing of Jordan Van Sewall’s art which then gave me permission to use the cartoon style in my sculptures. All of that then helping to explain why my sculptures look the way they do.

Anyways, this has been great for me to mull over and work out. This first art talk was a great learning experience and the next one will be much different. So, if you were there this past Tuesday, know that the next time I do an art talk it will have a new orientation. It will have been re-aliened.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
James 1:23-24.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Over Exposed!

The Altona Gallery “Artist Talk” night was amazing. Most amazing was anyone coming out to hear me speak! The curator, Odia Reimer had done a great job organising the occasion. These speaking nights are new ventures for this gallery and I applaud them for providing evenings such as this. It is one thing to see a work of art but totally another to hear, from the artist how the work came into being.

After the event, driving home, I just could not help but feel that I had somehow overexposed myself in my presentation. Talk about a shock to the system, my system! I thought the highlight would be the “unveiling” of my new piece, but apparently not. I felt like I’d somehow revealed too much of myself! That a different kind of “unveiling” had happened and I’d lifted the sheet to reveal too much of “me” and I was not used to that.

 I had brought along the remake of the piece that had exploded into hundreds of pieces in the kiln just before the show started on June 2nd. I had carefully set this new piece up at the front beside the lectern, covering it with one of my wife’s table-cloths. I thought that this would be a great “impacting” way to end the talk, dramatically lifting the cloth and revealing the new sculpture for it’s very first revelation to the public eye. And it was, it was so fun to do. But I did not know another kind of unveiling was taking place.

This was my first “Art Talk” and I know my friends in the audience will forgive me for overdoing some things and blabbering on and on. Possibly, I need to heed Christ’s advice and remember how after he performed a miracle he often made the request that they were to tell on one about what had just happened. I’m not sure anyone actually heeded that request, but none-the-less the point is that I think I need to say less and trust that the art itself will also do the talking.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before let your words be few.”
Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV)


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Learning to Fly: What Inspires My Wobbly Flight 2

"6.5 Weeks"

Next, there are two pieces in the show we must consider together, namely “Samson” and “Foxy David”. They specifically reference the subject of misguided male sexuality. Candace our thirteen year old daughter was forced to endure not only the terror of the insanity of a situation beyond anything she’d ever thought could exist, but the torturous pain of being “hog-tied” and left to die of hypothermia. All for the purpose of one man’s addictions and momentary satisfaction due to some sexual perversions. Mark Edward Grant, like David, is suffering the consequences for his decisions, but he also has a chance like David did, to make things right with his people and his maker. Will he have the courage to make those decisions?

I would also like to mention one of the “Trial Sketches”, specifically the snoopy drawing with all the Woodstock’s flying around him and his lady friend. Throughout our ordeal we’ve had friends who have supported us in many ways, some were even able to attend the trial with us. Several friends and family members traveled many miles to join us for a few days they were able. I drew this sketch while they played the police interview of Mark Edward Grant after his arrest. The big screened TV was a few feet in front of us and I needed a distraction, so I sketched this scene first in pencil and then later during the trial, finished it with pen and ink. It was my salute to our many friends and family who prayed and thought of us. So many of you continually came and went always encouraging, sending cards and bringing food or my wife’s favorite thing, chocolate! I cannot say enough…to all our friends, you are truly jewels in our lives, thank you.

Let me conclude with one more piece called “6.5 Weeks.” When I first conceived of this piece it was for the purpose of attempting to identify with Candace in her feelings of terror in the situation she found herself. I wanted to, as much as possible see and feel what she felt. At first my intention was to make the hands her hands, but as piece progressed, I just could not conceive of making them her hands, it hurt too much. So, there was only one other option, they would have to be my hands. If I wanted to identify, then that was it. They would simply have to be my hands. This certainly was a therapeutic, tear-filled piece for me. If only, I could have also, somehow, taken her place.

Was I learning to fly? Yes, I was and still am. It is exciting to know that my work is on display in it’s second showing this year. I’m simply going to keep flapping my wings madly and, with appreciation, do my best wherever “providence” takes me.

FYI: On July 17 at 7pm I will be speaking at an “ART TALK EVENING” in Altona at the Curling Club next door to the Altona Gallery in the Park. Cost: free. Please RSVP by calling 204.324.9610

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”Psalm 91:4

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Learning To Fly: What Inspires my Wobbly Flight.

A portion of  the "Holy Ground" sketches.

With the completion of the trial in February of 2011, and the frightening confirmation that I was to have an art show in February of 2012, I became very panicky…I mean serious, about creating pieces for the show. Soooo what do I make first?

With only seven months to prepare there was an obvious limited to the number of pieces I could make. Therefore, I decided, should probably decide on a particular subject matter to emphasise and go with that for my first showing. I made lists of pieces I might do but very quickly I learned that during the process of making pieces, new ideas would come and the enthusiasm for some of the projects on the original list just seemed to fade in importance. Finally, I just went with what inspired me at the time. This apparently was not like my wife sending me out with a grocery list of exact items to get, it seemed to morph as I went along.  

In my attempt to explain where my ideas come from and what inspires my work I believe it would be best to begin an explanation of the piece entitled “Holy Ground”. This piece helps put into context all the work I have done.

These six charcoal sketches were inspired by our fear of the trial. Our trial was to last 5 – 6 weeks. How were we to survive this emotionally, relationally, and even spiritually for that length of time? And that’s not even thinking about the media and their expectations. Several months before the trial we got a hint from some friends of our children who were praying for us. In a phrase we were to approach the trial as if it was “Holy Ground.”  The main Biblical incident involving Holy Ground of course is the story of Moses and the burning bush. It was the presence of God that made that place “Holy” and it was there, in the light and warmth of that fire that God then asked Moses out of respect, to take off his shoes. What a comfort it was for us to know that God was in that courtroom every day of the trial. We were not alone! We often individually would quietly remove our shoes as we sat in the gallery. When the verdict was about to be announced, not having had time to talk as a family beforehand, we did the nudge thing and all of us removed our shoes. We were standing together knowing God was present and in control. I decided to capture it with sketches of each of our family members feet. What a life giving, unifying concept it was for us as a family. Key to our survival throughout those very emotional 5.6 weeks.

The second thing was I needed a distraction. So, I took my sketchbook along. At first I was pretty tentative about sketching anything. I began with some safe subjects like the guards or the lawyers or the jury. But as time went on my emotions became a roaring presence and a sketch of a very well armed lawyer with not only a six gun but a variety of armaments including a rocket launcher pointed at a hapless frightened witness in the witness box appeared on the paper

I never thought of these sketches as being shown at all, but when Ray Dirks heard I’d been sketching he “insisted” they be included in the show. He felt that as the father and not a media artist, that this was most unique. There was no decision it seemed, they had to be shown. So, I swallowed my pride and there they are, my crude coping methods revealed! Of course, I have by now gotten over that feeling, …mostly, and so have forgiven Ray Dirks for that “continual” embarrassment! One of those things you learn as an artist, bank on the fact that everything and anything you “sketch” will one day become public!

There were certain things that “niggled” at me during the trial. First, the huge quick change the science of DNA had made on the justice system. We were always told the system moves very slowly but that it still moves. How there were many “cold cases” coming before the courts again due to the new evidence acquired through this new science of DNA. Second was the general disrespect defence lawyers seemed to pay to witnesses. In fact it seemed the more “expert” they were in their field, like DNA lab experts or directors, the more ridicule, disdain, scoffing, half truths, and misrepresentation seemed to be used against them. I could not understand how any lawyer would expected the jury to fall for such obvious disrespect which was not in line with the answers given by the witnesses at all.

I was aware of the iconic “lady justice” symbol of our democratic justice system. You know, the demure lady with the scales in one hand, sword in the other, wearing a blindfold.  So, to represent these personal issues of mine, I began thinking about how I could do an “updated” personal version of lady justice. So, If you have seen her in my show you will notice the stand beneath her morphing from law books and ring-binders to strands of DNA. Her sword is DNA and her arm going to the scales becomes DNA. Then as to the lawyers disrespect, I tied a cloth over the scales to render them ineffective, basically saying that something is unbalanced here. I have finally decided that the defence is trying to impress their client, who often admire just such tactics and so would believe that their lawyer is doing a fantastic job!

Was I enjoying my “wobbly flight”? Yes and no. During this time of frantic creation I often felt unsure of myself. I have watched young birds flying erratically, seemingly excited about the amazing experience and then crashing on landing, missing branches, doing somersaults on the ground etc. It’s always funny (sadly) but I was often second guessing my decisions, thinking that somehow this would crash and burn. Arguing with myself about the audacity of taking on an icon like Lady Justice. It was most strange at times, but also most exhilarating.

FYI: On July 17 at 7pm I will be speaking at an “ART TALK EVENING” in Altona at the Curling Club next door to the Altona Gallery in the Park. Cost: Free.  RSVP by calling 204.324.9610

Continued Sunday morning with part 2.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil…”
Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Learning to Fly: Pushed into Space…aaaaaaaahhhh

I need to back up just a little to give you the context of “the push”.

In November of 1984 our daughter was taken off the street on her way home from school. Now this is a huge story and I will just touch the tips of the waves. Six and a half weeks later she was found frozen to death, bound in a brickyard shed a few blocks from our home. Twenty-seven years later, when we had given up and were resigned to the fact that we would never know what happened, to our shock and amazement, a man was arrested in May of 2007 and charged with first degree murder for what he had done all those years ago.

In June of 2010, I was able to rent a space for my own personal art studio. And I began to create.

In August of that year the preliminary hearing began. Two things happened. First, to attend the hearing I had to place my business into what I refer to as “holiday” mode. This meant, I hired a staff person to carry my phone and take care of my staff and their cleaning needs, resupplying supplies, fixing vacuums etc. He also took care of all extra work such as stripping and waxing floors or after construction cleaning, on a contractual basis. I took care of hiring and firing of staff and the financial end of things.

Secondly, I took my sketchbook with me to the courtroom and tentatively began to do a little sketching. I drew the judge. I did one of the defense lawyers. I could not believe myself…I was doing it. I met a sketch artist hired by the media to do some drawings for the news…we connected. Something had moved.

On January 17, 2011 the trail began. Again, I placed my business on holiday mode and took my sketchbook to the courtroom. Now the emotions just could not be ignored. I was no longer sketching only the guards, the jury or lawyers. Suddenly I was drawing a lawyer decked out with military armor firing at the witness stand. DNA, wolf like characters appeared. Then I drew my guardian angel….

In June of the same year the curator of the Mennonite Heritage Gallery and Wilma met. She’d resigned from her job having earlier scheduled an art show for victims. She was going to let him know there would now be no show. He suggested that they keep the dates open for a showing by her husband (me!) and our daughter Odia. Wilma came to me and asked if I’d be willing/able to do an art show of my work beginning January 27 the following year, 2012. This was seven months away. I had three pieces at that time.  “Well,” I said, “I’ve checked my calendar and I just happen to be clear for showing on those dates, I do have three pieces now, so with seven months to go….well really that should be no problem. of course, I will do it!”

Was I learning to fly? Oh yes. That there was “the push” I had needed, and I was truly flying. It was erratic, it was scary and wild, but I was in flight! I put my business on permanent “holiday mode” and began to flap and flutter my wings creating art for that show. I changed how I lived. I cut out a lot of things and began to create work reflecting what I and my family had gone through during the past year. Remember, I’d said I would do the art thing when I retired. It is interesting how this all came together with the trials which were very emotional experiences. I just could not help but express my feelings through my art during such impacting experiences. I was unsure and unsteady but I was in flight and that was the miracle of it all.

“Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?”
Isaiah 60:8

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Learning to Fly: Tottering on the Edge…

 Dragons would have to be slain first.

Last Sunday morning I briefly discussed my background as it related to my artistic bent. I came away from my family and community with much confusion about this as I was dealing with both hate and admiration for my artistic gifts from the people I was to look up to for guidance and direction in my life. This “baggage” caused the very thought of creativity an agony of the greatest proportions. For after I moved from home I of course became exposed to the very real career possibilities for an artist. For many years I had to deal with those negative inner voices battling against that very idea. During this time I would waver back and forth, for a while one side would be winning and I’d begin doing some painting and then the other side would gain influence and everything stopped. It wasn’t just dealing with economics or opportunity or giftedness, it was a dynamic mental battle raging in my brain as the years went by.

If I was ever going to “learn to fly” there were going to be a lot of mental dragons that would have to be slain first.

So there I was, crouched in the centre my “nest” watching others “fly” and simply not understanding how I could ever get there. I knew I could probably do it physically, but how do you get there with so many barriers looming in your head. Most of which I could not even understand or verbalise or even know existed as barriers for me.

Finally a break. Our daughter Odia was at the U of Manitoba studying for her fine arts degree. This itself was very fascinating to me, but my interest went through the roof when she came home with clay and began working with it. I loved what I was seeing and became hooked.

I gleaned all I could from Odia. I signed up for several sessions of introductory clay classes advertised in the Winnipeg Community Leisure Guide. I was not interested in making functional stuff like cups and saucers but in sculpting. I ended up making a series of “farm boys”, as memories of my childhood on the farm. As you can guess, after the first few classes I was doing my own thing.

One day my amazing daughter Odia took the time to evaluate my eight or so farm boys and suggested they were amazing, colourful and fun. Then she said, “Now Dad, do something about your farm life that made you, oh lets say, angry, I’m sure there must be something there for you to make, “ she exclaimed. Today I finally understand that knowing smirk I saw on her face as she walked out of the room.

Would you believe this piece, made in response to that challenge, almost never saw the light of day! It was almost immediately destroyed by well meaning protectors of my reputation! Fortunately, it survived and has since then been in two of my past showings and is on display at the Altona Gallery as we speak! It was the very first “expression of some real true emotion” as an artist! Wow.

After that I discovered “Jordan Van Sewell” a successful ceramic sculptor here in Winnipeg. I took several classes from him and has had a great influence on my art. He gave my closed, tight Mennonite mind permission experiment, to loosen up and express itself much more freely. If you Google Jordan you will see that his work is wild and crazy.

Just think, I came out of his classes with Moses coming down the mountain in a sports car, his robe flowing behind him in the air, holding up a tablet of the 10 commandments with writing on it that began at the top with a happy face! A lot of mental dragons died during those art classes right there!

Did I want to learn to fly? Yes I did! I was now on the edge of the nest, tottering. But I was not yet ready. There were still more dragons to slay. I was also still in business and did not know what to do with that. Further, I had still not learned how to express my emotions and feelings in an artistic way. I just could not take the leap of the edge of the nest. I needed a push.

Why is it that when you are about to jump, move forward, take that important last step towards your destiny, that the greatest fears come with it? Before I jumped all I saw was this huge open abyss before me. Fear gripped my soul. All I could think about was that huge splat I would make way down there on the ground. There would be no safety harness! If I was going to fly, I definitely needed a good push.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear…’ ”
Isaiah 41:13

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Learning to Fly: My Background

Which direction do I go?

So, I will be going through the main points of my “Art Talk” for July 17 at the Altona Gallery in the Park. Yesterday morning was the introduction. The next point has to do with my background.

I grew up on a small mixed farm in a Mennonite Brethren country church community in Saskatchewan. For an Altona audience, that’s like letting the cat out of the bag. They will know a lot about me just with that one sentence, so I will leave it at that.

As a child I Knew I was artistic and that I had some kind of artistic talent for a few basic reasons. First, my parents used me as “parlor entertainment” for guests in our home. Often, at some point of the visit I would be asked to draw a horse or a dog or some other farm animal, on the blackboard we had on the wall in our farm home. Then I would receive comments of admiration and observations that I was “good with my hands” and someday I would be a “finish carpenter” making furniture or kitchen cabinets and such.

Also, the teachers at one-room-school (grades 1 - 8) I attended had me draw Christmas decorations on all the blackboards for the public Christmas concert that was put on for the community every year. This consisted of Santa and reindeer scenes, elves, candles and ivy all done with colored chalk.

If my grades began to falter, my parents would look at my scribblers for they had learned that the more I drew, sketched or doodled the lower my grades got. I was “encouraged” not to doodle for the sake of my grades!

The attitude towards art and artists in the community I grew up in was very negative. Mennonites had a “be separate from the world” philosophy, and at that time (because of what they had historically separated themselves from) considered art a very “worldly” activity.  Therefore I grew up in a complete vacuum regarding art. There was no encouragement, no mentoring, no examples or history being shared of artists who were actually doing art. The only talk regarding art and artists was of a negative nature and the less said the better.  

I have come to understand the huge counter cultural “risk” my parents took in showing off my gift and encouraging celebration of that in our home, even in this small way. They must have been very torn, living in a community that held all art/artists suspect and yet seeing the gift in one of their children. They never spoke if it to me. But, that conflict went with me as I tried to find my way in the world.

This conflict summarized my working career. Every once in a while I would dabble with painting, but since I had a wife and family could not do the “starving artist” thing. It did not really matter what position I’d been hired for, (which was never as an artist) I also became the resident artist designing, illustrating and cartooning for the company or ministry I was employed at. Now and again I even did some illustrative work commercially. So I lived with this frustrating double world. To deal with the guilt of not using my “gift” I promised myself that when I retired, I would get into this art thing, maybe even take some university courses.

Did I want to learn to fly? Yes and no, as during all these productive years I was confused and not even sure of my gift.  I knew I had something but I had no direction or confidence in the gift. I had only done art by assignment and so had no idea about expressing personal feelings and emotions. Possibly "confused ambivalence" is the best description. But, I was looking forward to retirement with anticipation, if for no other reason than because of the guilt I felt.

“I will cry to God Most High, who performs on my behalf and rewards me, [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]”  Psalm 57:2