For the first 24 years of my life, I drew pictures. Pencils, pens and paper were my only art supplies. The huge callus on the middle finger of my right hand was a testament to the decades I spent feverishly pouring my imagination out onto pieces of paper. As a self-taught artist, it never occurred to me to use anything other than the tools that were readily available. Why would I want anything else? I was happy.
The Christmas before he died, my father bought me an easel.
In other words, he saved my life.
Since I had never painted before, on Christmas morning I stood before that strange metal object in front of me with my mouth hanging open. My father went on to explain how much he wanted to give me an easel – describing his amusing trip to the local art supply store to buy something he knew nothing about. At the time, he didn’t even know what it was called. My father told me that all the easels were made of wood, except the one he bought. He gave me a solid steel easel because he wanted it “to last forever.”
Words cannot express the depth of my love for my father. When he died, it tore me apart. That easel became the rock that I clung to through the maelstrom of my grief, and I taught myself how to paint.
I painted as if my life depended on it… and it did.
That was almost 25 years ago, and I have been painting ever since. Now, I understand that there are easels out there that would probably better suit my method and my materials – but for me, there will never be another easel other than the one my father gave me. Every single one of my paintings was made on that easel, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is going to last forever.