………I want to tell you a bit my dad…….
He was a kind, gentle and thoughtful man.
He was sensitive, and creative. He played piano. He taught himself Spanish guitar. He did DIY around the house and he fixed the car if he could. He did the garden and grew vegetables.
He had a truly lovely smile. He was an artist, he studied art in a good art school here in the UK and he then became an art teacher. By then he was already married, was about to start a family, and of course teaching was a ‘proper job’ (if poorly paid back then). And he took his responsibilities seriously.
He worked at the same school for his entire career, and he eventually became deputy head of the school. When the headship became available he was asked to apply, but he decided against it because he wouldn’t be able to go on teaching, and he enjoyed the teaching.
He loved his job as far as I know.
And in the meantime he went on painting pictures throughout his life.
He continued to develop as a painter as long as he was able to pick up a paint brush.
And he was good. Primarily a landscape painter, he worked in oils, acrylics, water colour, pen and pencil, and he also took photos.
And here’s the thing …nobody except a few friends and family members ever got to see his work.
It makes me so incredibly sad to think about it. He never had a show, he was never part of an exhibition, he never joined a gallery ….nothing.
Most of his work is now in the attic of the family home, and me and my siblings have some of his work on our walls.
I have a folder of some of his best watercolours under my bed….
And that’s it.
He died of dementia, and his demise was slow and difficult, a long decline that lasted some years. I remember him saying in the hospital during the early period of his illness, and before he lost the power of speech, ‘I need to get out of here, I still have more paintings in me.’
There was nothing I could say, but I felt his pain deeply.
I’ve made a lot of artistic endeavours in my life; even though I’ve never had the talent he had, but I’ve always loved the doing of it. The enveloping in the totally captivating creative bubble. And I know how good that feels because of him, because from early childhood there were always paints and crayons around for us all to use.
In fact I loved all the paraphernalia in his work space …the tubes of paint, the brushes, the pallette, the easel, the mixing of colours, everything about it. I can still recall that as a child I loved the smell of turpentine and oil paints that hung in the air of my dad’s studio.
And I will always remember that smile. His radiant smile. He was a decent, loyal and creative man, and he was my dad.
And he was such a dedicated artist. A skilled and gifted painter.
I love all his notes about the location, the weather, and anything else that struck him …. the one thing he often omitted was the date…. particularly the year?
I will never forget going for walks in rural and idyllic parts of the UK, when we would stop for a picnic and then explore while he took photos and did his sketches of the landscape,while the changing light unfolding all around us. It was magical for me. My profound visual love of landscape and nature comes from him.
And of course I so much secretly wanted to be part of that expressive and creative energy. I knew it was special.
Since his passing, all his work just sits there gathering dust …and none of us really knows what to do about it. I’ve thought about trying to organise an exhibition but I’m not sure how to set about that. I don’t even know whether that would be a good idea. None of us know what to do with the considerable portfolio of work he’s left behind, and which no-one else ever saw, because he didn’t believe it could matter to anyone.
And I really don’t want it to end up like that for you.
I would’ve loved to have seen my dad have an exhibition…or three or ten or however many…and see him approached by buyers who valued his work and wanted to pay good money to have his art on their walls.
I would’ve loved to see him as a successful, cherished and sought-after artist. He deserved that so much. He was a painter with integrity, honesty and a big heart.
I would’ve loved to have seen him further inspired by his own success and developing his life’s work with even greater motivation and power, as the expressive and authentic painter he truly was.
And being properly rewarded for his unique talents and painterly skills.
To me it’s heart breaking that nothing like that ever happened for him.
One time I offered to help him have an exhibition but he quietly shook his head as if to say ‘I don’t know about that.’
The truth is, I wish I knew then what I know now.
That what held him back his whole life was lack of self-confidence and self-worth. A deep fear of being seen, and of standing out. Along with a fear of rejection. And even maybe a secret fear of success.
What I now know is that it’s inner programming and the overwhelmingly loud voice of our inner critic that stops us all in our tracks. It’s the downward spiral of all the negative beliefs that we hold about ourselves, that stop us achieving the creative, brilliant and abundant life we were meant to live.
It stopped my dad his whole life long.
I show artists and creatives who are struggling with feelings of self-doubt how to step into a place of confidence and power, and earn more money doing what they love.
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