I have a friend of 20 years named Roby who approached me recently and semi-reluctantly told me that he had taken up painting.
He explained that he had started with elementary watercolors but that he had recently bought better paint and brushes. He had also purchased higher quality paper and was busy trying techniques that were new to him.
We now speak of painting at least twice a week and he excitedly tells me about his latest discoveries: perspective, shading, and yesterday, brushstrokes.
This guy is a 56-year-old man’s man from Texas. He’s a fisherman and works in construction and it’s a blast for me to watch his eyes light up when he talks about painting and shows me photos of his latest work. To me, an artist who’s been at it for a long while, I get such great satisfaction out of seeing anyone dive head first into making art.
So often it’s kids I hear about because, let’s face it, many adults take up golf or similar hobbies as they get older — at some point early on they had made a decision that “they couldn’t draw a straight line” and the idea gets put away with their crayons. But art making builds the mind and sharpens focus with new problems, new sensibilities, and new challenges. It opens one up to abstract thinking. And making art is a way of life, a discipline if you will, one that you can experience and thoroughly enjoy literally until the day you die.
My friend Roby is on an exciting path. He may never be a Jasper Johns and he doesn’t care. For him, it’s about personal enlightenment.