I started seriously painting when I was 14. I had two very different teachers. One teacher was very traditional. He had a way that he liked things done and, as far as I could tell, he thought that was the only way to do things. Don't get me wrong, he was a nice enough guy and he knew how to paint very well. I think that his style just didn't suit my personality. He was all technicality and zero creativity. When I would approach him with a fun new idea he would reign it in until my work didn't really feel like my work any longer.
The other teacher was Michael Copeland. He pretty much told me to follow my own path and offered encouragement and advice as needed. That was right up my alley from the get go. I loved that he had confidence in my ability enough to just let me do my own thing. Obviously we are still very close, he and his wife Victoria are adopted family at this point, but his artistic influence continues even though he isn't technically my teacher any longer.
For decades I struggled with the influence of those two teachers. I knew Copeland had it right, but I also had the other teacher's voice in my head telling me how things should be done. More often than not I found myself mired in self-doubt. What should I do? Why should I do it? Is this being made in the right way? I am usually a very decisive and confident person, but this nonsense was really deep in my head. I would start a painting and then the voice of the unnamed teacher would creep in and tell me that I should be more academic or whatever.
This piece is on exhibit at the University of Denver for another week or so...
For years, over a decade really, I would go back and forth, never really finding my own artistic voice. Then, at my busiest time in life, a time when I couldn't waste time being lost in my own mind I found it. I found my own artistic voice. I learned to accept the voice of academic painting, but now I feel confident enough to ignore it too. It was like a dam burst and now I can't stop. I often look back at those years of confusion and laugh, how could I be anything but who I am? Duh.