The question is not whether it is art. A monkey can do art: It is whether it stirs, then shakes something in your inner being, opens up your channels of thought, gives you greater awareness and leaves you in awe. That is Art with Merit.
Diary - Continuation of Introduction
4th August 2002
Life is sometimes pretty damned shit. Now is the time. I am writing this diary entry on 4th August 2001. At the beginning of March I said that everything had sorted out for the better and life was back on an even keel. Well... yes it was... until about the 15th March when I telephoned my mother who had been suffering from a bit of "pneumonia".
Remember, she had recovered form her colon cancer and for 5 years appeared to be doing very nicely. She had danced the night away at my middle daughter's wedding in July 2000 and had made a second visit to England from South Africa in September to finalise the sale of her flat.
She said rather apologetically that she would not be well enough to come to England this year and would we instead come and visit her, all expenses paid NOW.
Alarm bells rang. Reluctantly she admitted that a small patch had been observed on her lung. Two weeks later my wife and I were in Umhlanga Rocks which is in Kwazulu Natal. It transpired that the small patch on her lung was terminal cancer of the lungs and breast which she had known about for some time and did not dare tell anyone because she did not want anyone to get upset. looking back I think she already knew that she had the terminal cancer at Cathy's wedding in July 2000. By the visit in September to sell her flat I am sure she knew - there was something detached and very sad about her.
Except for a few weeks in May, we stayed with her until she died in our arms in her home at 05.00 on 21st June 2001 which was also an eclipse of the sun over Southern Africa.
The loss of my mother causes me great devastation and I am somewhat deranged by it. You will understand why I am not doing much painting right now. I am a clone of her, not just her offspring. I am more like her than I could ever admit while she was alive. I have lost much more than a limb. It is I who are the useless limb now. I must somehow rebuild myself again into a whole person and this will take time.
Looking back now, notwithstanding my loss or because of it, I focused hard on my painting and started at last to paint productively resulting in over 40 works, a huge number in a year for me. I did a good few Margaret paintings and I broadened out into flower paintings and tried my hand at more landscapes. I also painted smaller works in the hope that they might appeal to people with smaller homes. Another landmark is my realisation that if I am to sell anything, I have to start charging "Sunday painter" prices for most of my works.
This of course does not cover the cost of one's time by any means and is only possible because over my lifetime I have worked to build enough financial security now to be able to afford to paint without having to worry too much about the bills being paid. It also means that I can paint precisely what I want to when I want to. It is just as well because it seems that my work does not have mass appeal, my work is crap, collectors are waiting for me to die (unlikely) or the bemused camp followers are waiting for the green light by some high profile Arts Council tosser somewhere who is supposed to be able to recognise genius when he sees it.
Last update early March 2001
Things were pretty awful in the 3 years up to 2000. They are much better now.
My mother nearly died from cancer of the colon. My sister did die suddenly in her prime from a hysterectomy gone wrong. My mother lost her husband suddenly due to a heart attack. My wife had a seizure which left her in a coma for 3 days from which she was not expected to recover due to a wrongly prescribed drug. My son in law underwent 3 operations for the removal of a tumour in his spinal column which left him partially paralysed. Finally to cap it all at the end of 1998 after a desperate struggle, we were forced to sell our manufacturing business which had terminal cash flow disease.
It is no wonder my painting got ugly, violent and unhappy - and that is when I could summon up the strength to paint. In 1998 I could hardly paint. 1999 was not much better. That is why my Palestinian Stone Thrower took over a year to paint. If I have painted a masterpiece, I think this is it. Maybe Green Madagascan Nude also qualifies. A Good Deal Done is definitely a candidate. It is also a painting which gives me endless pleasure.
On the plus side from a painting point of view, 2000 was quite productive for me, I painted 23 works, amongst them a number of "good" Margarets but some of the other works are quite indifferent
I am forever optimistic. We also have a great deal to be thankful for. My wife is as good as 100% recovered from her illness and working full time. My Mother too leads a full life having written an historical novel based 95% on fact about some South African pioneers in the family tree. My daughter and paralysed husband now have the gift of a beautiful and delightful baby girl who brings happiness to everybody. My son has just got married and is settling down and my 2nd Daughter is getting married shortly. My wife and I have retained our jobs in our once owned Company. We still have our home which we can still afford. How many more blessings could one hope for?
Optimistically I am entering the last third of my life. In the first third, I grew up, discovered myself, got married, learnt the importance of a career as a means of providing the wherewithal to live and painted my first paintings and was totally impatient for success.
In the second third, I have seen most of the world, run a business, brought up 4 children, gave up painting and discovered how hard it is to be successful, I mean really successful at anything. I became more patient.
Now I am into the last third of my life with everything to go for. I have started my new career in painting. This is probably my hardest challenge but it is one which I have spent the first two thirds preparing for. I am still impatient but I know the importance of spending time on getting things right. Speed is no longer of the essence. Doing the job properly is.
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