Many artists will step away from the easel this Thursday to spend time with friends and family during the Thanksgiving holiday. A part of the festivities that I have always enjoyed (even more than the feast of turkey and pumpkin pie) is when everyone at the table takes a moment to share what it is that they are thankful for. As artists, we are all members of a large artistic family. While it is not physically possible for us to be seated at the same table this Thursday, I nevertheless wish to share my personal thanks for “vision” in all its definitions.
The Gift of Vision: As a noun, vision refers to the faculty of being able to see both physically with eyesight and mentally with imagination. I think nothing terrifies an artist more than the potential of eyesight loss. Modern medial advances have made major strides in dealing with conditions such as cataracts that robbed artists like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas of vision. Hopefully, breakthroughs in macula degeneration treatment will alleviate the condition that robbed Georgia O’Keeffe of her eyesight. Earlier this year I was the recipient of a corneal transplant to correct a degenerative condition. Except for a few days of recovery, the doctors have been able to keep me seeing well enough to paint and teach, something for which I am eternally thankful. I encourage all of you to receive thorough eye exams. Early treatment offers amazing potential for prolonged vision.
Artistic Vision: When it comes to mental sight, James Abbott McNeil Whistler said it best, “An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” This creative perspective/imagination is what makes each of us unique. Without it, every artist would merely gain the technical ability to render a subject competently. Whenever I visit an exhibition, I am above all thankful for the diversity of visual expression being expressed by the artists of today. It has opened my eyes to expanded possibility.
Creative Visionaries: I am also thankful for the numerous visionaries that have made our artistic lives much easier thanks to their tireless efforts to advance the medium of pastel: the pastel society volunteers who organize events; the gallery representatives who beautifully display our paintings; the publishers that feature our works; and the manufacturers that provide phenomenal products that expand our creative horizons. Their passion and dedication to excellence makes our expressive lives better.
Finally, I am thankful for those non-painting loved ones that may not understand the daily struggles of a painter’s life but encourage us anyway, making it easier for us to express our individual vision. As Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
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