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Light to Life

Acrylic Paintbrush (no airbrush)


This has become my all-time favorite work of art that Dad ever did, and for a few reasons.  But first, about the art itself.

About the Art

This was a school project that Dad had to do at Art Center. The students were supposed to come up with some advertising campaign ideas as if they were designing something for Art Center.  I found Dad's original sketches and ideas in his Art Center sketchbook, but this was his final project.

The idea is that Art Center is a place that can help your art come to life. It doesn't just stay on a painting, but it actually takes on a life of its own. The art itself does something in this world. 

Dad only used paintbrushes, as he hadn't yet learned how to use an airbrush. This amazes me, because the shading of the shadows and the slow blend of the lighting on the paper and the table are just so smooth and perfect, it's hard to believe that wasn't done with an airbrush. I look at this and I just want to tear that masking tape up off the painting, or peel the orange paint off the table. The way he cast those shadows at such an extreme angle to show the light source as coming from the painting itself is just incredible. And then he signed his name with a paintbrush, but made it look like the painting of the lightbulb was signed with a pencil. It's just genius and I love it.

Why This is My Favorite

But even aside from the incredible work that it is, I have some other reasons why I love this as my favorite.

This was done in April of 1979, the month I was born. I picture my Dad, at age 27, now with his second child and about to graduate art school. Knowing my Dad, I can just imagine the worry and anxiety he must have had, wondering how to put food on the table and into the mouths of now four people he was responsible for.  Was he crazy? A boy from Nebraska now moved out to Hollywood to try to make it in the art business?  Would this be able to provide for his family, or is it just a pipe dream that will blow up in his face?

In his Art Center sketchbook, I also found a page with notes from one of his classes.  At the top it said, "How to Start a Business."  This, too, was from April 1979.  In his notes he had a to-do list, a list of needs and wants, as well as written "it takes $3,000 for an illustrator to get going."  $3,000 was a ton of money back then, especially for them!

So I picture my Dad...wondering if this dream will become a nightmare. Wondering if this is going to work.  This passion and gift and dream he has to be an artist and start his own business as an artist...will it come to life?

And here he dreams up this painting. A painting that comes to life and actually provides light.  It's not art that just stays on the wall or in a sketchbook, but it's art that comes to life and provides. And that is exactly what happened to Dad. His art made a way for him and his family. His dream became reality, and his art provided not just food, but also light, memories, and a legacy that his kids and grandkids can be thankful for and proud of.

To me, this painting tells the story of what was in my Dad's heart back in April 1979, and when I look at this painting I think to myself, "you did it, Dad."

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