Tam and Friends

Tam and Friends


I am a determined man. Unlike Henry Miller who arrived in Paris at the age of forty suspecting that he was an artist but needing six months of stimulation-by-poverty to prove it, I have known all my life that I am another one in a long line, both ignored and distinguished, to have the (mis)fortune of that mysterious element "X" inside me. I am forty-six years old, home teaching a twelve-year-old daughter, and retiring every night into a basement studio with my music and paints. This has been my practice for over twenty years, for I have taught our other daughter (age 23) until high school, working as a line cook to make ends meet, and an artist at every free moment to tame the element "X". I have written and self-published ten books with provocative titles and very few readers, had several self-sponsored shows exhibiting my work, and putting our family in deeper debt year after year. One could say that to the present day my life has painted its own tribute to a persisting in folly that might make a Henry Miller envy another fool. Professionally I have remained an enthusiastic failure. That is I buy paints, canvas, wood, frames, work feverishly, and have over the past five years, joined the unsaid "show circuit", exhibiting my paintings where ever and whenever possible, always at my own (and wife Rose's) expense, having few if any sales in upstate N.Y., and yet getting up after falling down again, and again, and again. For years I have painted relatively small and compact, as funds would allow. There's a college next door that sells smooth Bristol paper for two dollars per 30"x 40" sheet and Golden paints for enormous sums. A 2 ounce tube for twelve dollars goes far enough for miserly painters, and I have been very careful to stretch the paints out smooth for economy. But this year I have discovered big. The painting mentioned above is comically rendered, not at all where I want to go with paint. I foresee brave, broad stokes with wide brushes across eight foot canvas, and palette knives replaced with old record album covers. I have always worked fast, but now desire more of an unharried dance to my painting. Forever confident in application of color and contrast, I now feel the pressing need to let go like the sage. When I daydream this possibility I feel a tingling in my fingertips. That is joy and optimism! It is what I seek for my future as a painter. And then the reality of living check-by-check becomes all too real, and I find myself fermenting country wines to supplement income to justify expensive paints. I shop at A.C. Moore holding my 40% off coupon to buy inferior pigment that dries as drab as a February day in Oswego. I am always seeking gallery representation and/or rich patrons to free me as an artist, to open up the door of giving myself, expressively, routinely, until it is my turn for the great sleep.

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