Archive for March 23rd, 2009


1998In January of 1998, I was still working as a waiter in a Perkins Restaurant, at the same time painting and showing  my work in three galleries.  I was still unsure as to whether I should make the jump to going full-time as a painter.  Oh, the work was well received and nearly everything I was painting sold but I was never convinced that it was anything more than a temporary whim of the public.  Something that would soon fade.  

So I delayed going full-time.

One day while waiting, a single man sat in my station.  I recognized him as someone who I had waited on a number of times with his family.  It was lunch rush and my station was full so I was dashing around.  I stopped and quickly asked if I could get him something to drink.

“I didn’t come here to eat.  I came to buy paintings.”

I looked at him and my mind was blank.  I wasn’t excited.  Actually, I was a little irked.  I was busy as hell and this guy wanted to talk.  I always sort of prided myself in giving 100% to whatever job I had at the moment, even something that might be considered menial.  Hastily, I told him that this was not the time or place for such a conversation and we agreed to meet later that day at the West End Gallery in Corning.

We met and it turned out that he was a designer/ project manager for Corning, Inc.  He knew me from my waiting on his  family and was always impressed by my service as a waiter.  He said I reminded him of waiters he knew in  Venice who treated waiting as an honored profession and would wait their entire lives.  Because of this favorable impression, when he learned a couple of years before that I was showing my work at the West End, he started to follow the work.  He said he loved the way I worked with color and the personal style of my work.

With this in mind, he was now in the middle of a project, building a new photonics research facility in New Jersey for Corning.  The project was nearing completion and he stunned me when he said he had used my work as the basis for the color scheme of the building.  Now he needed some paintings for some key spots and he thought that my work would only be fitting.  Five or six larger pieces.  And he needed them in about six weeks.  Could I help him?

Instantly my head was reeling with questions on how I could do this.  You see, my work up to that point was very small, generally little things in the 4″ X 6″ or 9″ X 12″ range with a few going up to the 18″ x 24″ range.  I had taught myself a technique that worked really well in small blocks but wasn’t sure if I could translate it to a much larger piece.  And where would I paint?  I had started building my studio but it was nowhere near ready.  I was painting on a folding table in our kitchen/dining area.  How could I do this in the time frame he was giving me?  Was I ready for this?

“Sure,” I said.  “No problem.”  Inside, I wasn’t so positive.1998

I took time off from my job at Perkins and set up on my little folding table.  Since I was only adept at painting small blocks of color, I devised my paintings to be larger paintings comprised of smaller building blocks.  It allowed me to maintain my technique.  I struggled for a few weeks but somehow the pieces came around.  I used acrylic inks, acrylic paint, oil paints, chalk and pastels- whatever fit the need of the moment.  As the deadline approached I finally began to believe that I could do this.

At the end, I delivered five paintings.  Two large single pieces and a large triptych for the boardroom.  They were happy and I was very pleased and exhilarated by the whole experience.  It had given me an opportunity to paint on a much larger scale, to expand my work.  My confidence grew in my ability to create work that was beyond the temporary whim I mentioned earlier.  I could do this.

Within a few months I was painting full-time.  All the fears I had allowed to keep me from doing this were swept aside.  That was eleven years ago and seems like a hundred.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: