"A priority should be the focus on the root of things, not the trembling leaf of your symptoms"
The best career coaching for artists I ever got was a very talented instructor who stood in front of a group of about 30 artists and said, "most of you in this class can paint as well or better than I can but not one of you will work as hard as I do."
Long ago I tried to get a sketchbook and pen into the Brooklyn Museum. It was inside a black shoulder bag. After a great deal of discussion I was allowed in only with a large sticker on my bag that said, "Photographer" . I wish they had stickers that said ARTIST. and I hope they have changed their tune.
It's funny you think of me as quiet and painting for pleasure. If you could hear the very loud music I listen to and the curses I throw at my easel! ha! you'd be cured of that misunderstanding.
My studio is very busy these days and I am happy for that. I recently got word that the National Museum of the Marine Corps wants me to continue making paintings! There is a possibility for trips to gather resource material at Marine Corps bases in several parts of the world I've never traveled. Norway was mentioned as one location. I am very happy to be doing figurative painting with purpose! People want to buy landscapes especially here in California, but figure painting is hard to place except maybe as portraits and photography has done in a lot of that market. So I am happy to be accepted as an artist associated with a museum. It suggests that some people in the future may have a chance to see my work and may be somehow inspired by the nobility of the medium.
I do not remember names, but some faces. There was a very thin man and quite humble. He was from Egypt and once asked for me to demonstrate how I drew my monogram. Several months ago I came upon a couple of pastel drawings that I had saved from those days. One was an extraordinary portrait of ME by the Russian who was the first to invite me to sit in an open space next to himself. I had been standing there holding clean stools and a new book of pastel papers. Looking confused and somewhat stupid. An English woman tried to insist that he do her son in black and white for 60 Francs and he refused repeatedly holding out for 80. When it was obvious he would not take the work and she would not leave I politely inserted that I would do the child's portrait. After way too much time of me trying to chase down all the mistakes I had made in this poor kid's face someone came from behind me and in a quiet voice in French said, "Oh, I think it's done." and I took it as the voice of god giving me a pass on this one! I scribbled a few more confident marks just for the show and turned it to show the lady. She was so happy the ordeal was finally over she paid me, snatched the portrait and left me just absolutely GLOWING with, "I just EARNED 60 Francs!" It was a magical moment for me and I fell in love with France and the French people all over again. Another artist I think may have been Spanish or Portuguese wanted me to understand something of sculpting volume in the face and did a beautiful sketch to demonstrate. I still have it. I remember a girl came from Germany and was a great success because she was the only one with watercolors. And I remember the Japanese man you introduced me to during the time of your marriage. And another from Brazil? Argentina? Chile? who I once again met on visiting their apartment when I was there for your wedding. I remember the Chinese who were rounded up with me included when we have ventured up to the Champs Elysee at night to work under street lamps in front of the shops. I remember a group of young Parisians who found me working late at Beaubourg and wanted me to do just one more and then they sat their very ugly friend down on my chair. I'd been working very well all day long and my pastels were just SINGING with fluid movement and I thought this young man's face was full of sadness and HUMANITY. When I was finished I wanted to keep that drawing I was so proud of it. And I also wanted him to have it because I thought I have shown him the real beauty of his disfigured face. All the love and kindness and humility I saw above his shoulders. That was when I knew for a certainty that I love doing portraits!
My way of working is to put down a couple paragraphs like this
and then edit bit by bit for the next week.