You have to find something to say before you can say it

June 2nd, 2008

It’s not easy to figure out what might give readers a sense of knowing a bit about the person behind the blog, but here’s a start: I grew up in what was then a relatively rural town of 13,000 people, Sudbury, Massachusetts. I’ve been drawing and painting constantly since I could hold a pencil, and always got great pleasure from it.

I went to Sarah Lawrence College, studying art and history, and then on to graduate school in Russian history at the University of Michigan (in what? What’s an artist doing getting a Ph. D. in history? – more on that another time). I lived in the Soviet Union – St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) and Moscow – for a year doing research for my degree.

I married a man from Lebanon and had two children. Traveling to Lebanon to visit family has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

Through everything, I continued painting. I became very interested in art that moves, and got involved with film and animation (click on “About the Artist” for specifics).

To me, there’s nothing more captivating than the human face and the myriad expressions by which it communicates with other people. Not surprisingly, then, portraiture is among my passions.

That’s the skeletal outline. Here’s a more philosophical point:

For me – as for many artists – painting isn’t a purely visual experience. Yes, we want to create canvases that are beautiful in some way, to rivet and pleasure the eye. But we also want to engage thought, and to create emotional communication among our subjects, ourselves, and anyone who looks at the artwork.

As I was growing up, my father was proud of my artistic accomplishments and supported my artistic development in every way. While I was still too young to get into art classes, he arranged watercolor lessons for me with a local artist. Later he and my mother sent me to life drawing and other classes.

But when it came time to apply to college, my father advised me not to go to art school. “You have to find something to say before you can say it,” he said. He didn’t believe that by focusing purely on learning art techniques could I become an artist with something of value to communicate. He felt I’d more likely find something important to say through a wider knowledge of human experience.

There are, of course, many paths to creating wonderful art. Many great artists do go to art school. This blog will describe my own path, to begin with in the field of portraiture.

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