Dad gave up his remarkably successful advertising business, Poole Hobbes, Inc. and began painting full-time when I was around four. He had been studying with his mentor and dear friend, R.V. Goetz and trying to live the advice given in the great book, The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri. So he bought an orange VW camper and named it "OJ" (later VanGogh) and rode the wheels off of that thing, mainly visiting the West, especially New Mexico, which enchanted him as it did so many other artists. (Nicolai Fechin being prime among Dad's heroes, look him up. Bastard was phenomenal.) This is where my love of travel was fomented. Dad had Nutter Butter cookies in the cabinet (Ding Dongs didn't travel well), and a big sheepskin that he laid across the bunk so I could sleep as he drove. Because I was young and chatty, he put honey on my fingers and gave me a feather, which occupied me for miles. I collected tiny rocks in Mexico and played along the rim of the Rio Grande while Dad painted. I helped him stir rabbit skin glue and sometimes he would let me paint gesso on his canvases. But mostly I entertained myself with the landscape. This is also the time I learned how to cuss, as painting outdoors can be a treacherous activity.
I would often accompany Dad to art openings, pretending like I was a very young, art-loving stranger so I could sidle up to people as they looked at his work and listen to their comments. I loved to hear people trying to ascribe meaning to his work, because in my mind they had no idea what they were talking about. I knew the meaning behind those paintings, and Dad knew, but nobody else could ever get it.
Dad was a great and prolific painter. Each of his paintings and brush strokes are like hearing his voice, and represent different times of my life. Kind of like you remember where you were when big life events happen, I know where I was when he created each piece of work.
Now it's my task to deal with the body of work he left behind, about 1200 pieces in oil, pastel, pen & ink and watercolor. Though an amazing team of people have organized them and they're close to being fully inventoried and photographed, they're sitting in cold storage in the dark. I can't help but feel that decades of my life are in the dark with them. But more on that later.
It's early morning in Paris as I write this and today I need to force myself to get out and get some sunshine.
Thanks for reading.