My parents had been watching Vera (my dog, for those of you that don't already know) for the weekend. I wanted some uninterrupted time to work on some art and other things. After work on Monday I went to their house to pick her up. While I was there I sat on the couch next to my Dad and we chatted about this and that. I was hungry so got up and walked into the kitchen. I asked my dad, "Have you eaten dinner yet?" He responded that no, he hadn't had much and said we could go out to get a bite to eat.
Lately, I've been having the desire to be more involved with my family. My twenties were a time of chaos and, although there were incredible experiences, a lot of it amounts to very little personal growth and an unintentional distancing of myself from my family. I wouldn't change any of it. Well, okay, maybe a little. But who wouldn't? So, I said yes to go out and get a bite to eat. Previously, I might have said yes out of a feeling of obligation. Now, though, I get excited at the thought of spending time with him.
During dinner the conversation was nothing extraordinary. We talked about quadcopters, travel plans, the holidays, work, and all sorts of stuff in between. The topic of my art came up eventually. For reasons that I'm still unsure of after all these years, I was unable to talk as enthusiastically about it to him as I would to anyone else. Maybe it's a worry about feeling like a fraud, or that he may think that it is a futile endeavor. So, I mustered up some courage and I said to him, "Sometimes I get so anxious because I worry that I'm being delusional, or a fraud. (paraphrased)." He responded with, "Everybody feels that way sometimes."
A part of me, the immature part of me, immediately wanted to jump on the defense. I mean, of course I already know that but it doesn't make those feelings any less significant to me! The other part of me realized that there was nothing to be defensive about. He is helping me by trying to relate. So, I continued, "I know, but it's hard to shake it sometimes".
At that moment my Dad gave me such a smile of empathy and understanding. He then went on to describe how he got an "internship", for lack of a better term, at a computer repair shop when he was in his early 40's. The shop didn't pay him, and he didn't ask to be paid. But, eventually, the owner felt that my Dad deserved to be paid a small hourly wage for his time.
After telling me this he said to me, "You should find some part time work. That's how I got started." He was referring to his start in a career in computer support, post-retirement from 22 years as a detective. He has always been a computer tinkerer in his free time. He is a techie in his own right, and ahead of most others in his age group. That is his thing, among being a father, husband, brother, son, and uncle and friend. All of which he is wonderful at. That is his passion. That and the outdoors, but who the fuck doesn't love a good camping trip?! Now he was advising me to pursue my passion, after years of floundering without a purpose.
Oh man, did that light a fire under my ass or what! It's no secret that sons look for validation from their fathers, and I'm no different. When my Dad told me that, it was like getting the green light for something I didn't think I needed permission for. I've always been too stubborn to ask for help, despite needing it time and again. Having help always proves to be so much more efficient for growth. It doesn't make a person's achievements any less significant.
With my newly lit ass fire I went to the world wide web and started searching the Rochester area for studios, galleries, and the like. I was looking for an established artist that might want an extra set of hands for a couple of hours a week. The first place I looked to was The Hungerford (http://thehungerford.com/). I found on there an artist by the name of Alan Singer (www.singerarts.com). He is an exceptional artist, blogger and educator. He seemed to be just the person I was looking for. Yesterday I sent him a rather nervous, timid, but honest email. I told him that I was a beginner, but I was looking for a mentor of sorts. I wanted to get into the art world and not just sit in my spare bedroom/studio and dream about it while I haphazardly attempted to teach myself.
I wasn't expecting much. In fact, I wasn't really even expecting a response. Last night, much to my surprise and to the detriment of my ability to sleep, I got a response! I read it and Alan was very kind and accommodating. He suggested I try to see if I can audit a college course. He also gave me the contact information for Steve Carpenter, of www.stevecarpenterartcenter.com . Steve's art center offers several courses and open sessions for artists.
I know that this isn't exactly what I was looking for, but that's the point! I got something better than what I was looking for. I went searching for a mentor that might be willing to let me shadow for a couple hours a week; where i'd probably just be in the way most of the time. Instead, I found an excellent resource for live human figures to draw and paint, a community to join, and an instructor to help guide me on my path! I'm so incredibly excited and appreciative to my Dad, to Alan Singer, and to everybody else that has encouraged me a long the way. This is just the start, but it feels like a turn in the right direction!