Father’s Day: Honoring the Fathers of Artists

Although Father’s Day will come and go this weekend, our parents deserve recognition beyond designated holidays. At ArtistsNetwork.com we’re celebrating how fathers have inspired artists by sharing a small selection of stories today, and I encourage you to consider your own: how has your father inspired your art? Have you ever painted a portrait of him? Feel free to share your answers on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Coincidentally, the current issue of Watercolor Artist (August 2014) includes one such story from Amy Dean McKittrick. In addition to teaching a three-step pouring technique for watercolor painting, she tells a story about how her father’s symbolic presence inspired an entire series. “An American Tourist in Korea (below) captures a people catapulted into the 20th century by war,” says McKittrick. “It shows my father standing next to a Korean man on his hands and knees, scrubbing the street. I felt there was symbolism in this piece, as my father is standing next to a ladder, which is thought to represent bad luck.” I was moved when I read McKittrick’s story. Scroll down–I think you will be, too.

Warm regards,

Fathers Day_watercolor painting by Amy Dean Mckittrick

‘An American Tourist in Korea’ (watercolor on paper, 21×16) captures a people catapulted into the 20th century by war. It shows my father standing next to a Korean man on his hands and knees, scrubbing the street. I felt there was symbolism in this piece, as my father is standing next to a ladder, which is thought to represent bad luck.

An Art Journey: “Korea, 1953” by Amy Dean McKittrick

Sometimes a painting or a series begins with an idea, or sometimes with an emotional response to the world around me. The best, I believe, begin with both. This was true of the series, “Korea, 1953,” which came to me six years ago while cleaning out my mother’s closet.

In a suitcase filled with photos and old home movies, I came across some small slide boxes marked “Korea, 1953.” Inside were slides taken by my natural father of Korean life right after the Korean War. Not only was I struck by their beauty and sensitivity, but also by the strong similarity to my own work in perspective and subject matter, especially the figurative pieces. This was made even more remarkable by the fact that I had never known my father; he was killed in a plane crash when I was 17 days old. It occurred to me that working from the slides might be an interesting way to get to know my father. But, focused on other things, I put the slides away and promptly forgot about them.

In late 2010, I was at a creative impasse. Bored and frustrated with my work, I felt I was unable to find my way to the next level. This was compounded by the fact that I also was immersed in family responsibilities, mainly attending to the needs of my aging mother. I had been toying with the idea of making some changes to my painting technique, but change is often intimidating. Around that time, I had just finished reading Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul by Shaun McNiff (Shambhala, 2004), about the therapeutic powers of art. My thoughts turned again to the Korea slides. I’ve always felt that I connect on an intimate level with every subject I paint. I wondered if it would be possible to know my father by incorporating his vision and mine through these slides.

The time was right. I used this series as a catalyst to change my approach drastically–masking out large areas and pouring diluted watercolor directly onto the paper. I found the entire process to be mysterious, energizing and exciting.

To say that I felt my father’s presence while working on this series would be an understatement. I believe it allowed him the opportunity he never had in life—to be there for his child, to help me through a difficult transition (the death of my mother) and to give me the courage to move forward, letting me know that he loved me.

I, in turn, now feel more complete, as if a missing part of the puzzle has been found. I have a renewed confidence that love transcends space and time. Art does indeed have the power to heal (tweet this). ~ADM

Father's Day tribute from Sharon Pomales

‘Dad and Tommy at Seaworld’ (pastel, 26×20). During one visit to my dad’s house in Orlando we went to Seaworld. My son Thomas, who is 22 now, had a great time watching the seals and my dad was happy to be with his grandson. ~ Sharon Pomales-Tousey

Dad and Tommy at Seaworld by Sharon Pomales-Tousey
I started in art at the age of 8, drawing and painting under my father’s guidance. My father, Raul Pomales-Ledee, was a watercolor artist, commercial illustrator and art director in advertising in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was also my mentor and teacher until he passed away from a long illness in Orlando, FL in 2006.

Even though I chose to paint in oils and pastels rather than watercolor, through the years he provided me with materials, a wonderful collection of art books, and all the art magazines he subscribed to: American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, Pastel Journal, and International Artist, all which inspired me immensely. I still have a few of them! ~SPT

Father's Day, painting by Brittany Stout

‘Napping Together’ (pastel on paper, 20×17) by Brittany Stout, brittanystoutart.com

Napping Together by Brittany Stout
I usually credit my dad as the one who encouraged me to follow my heart and become an artist. He gave me the first box of pastels I ever owned (they were actually his) and they changed my life forever! In this painting, he’s snoozing on a camping trip with his and my mom’s new great dane puppy. He’s at home in the wilderness and enjoys hiking, camping and mountain climbing. I’d bet that he has also influenced my own love of the natural world which is a constant source of inspiration in my work. ~BS

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