Grasping color was as far as the distance of the moon.
My first successful painting was in black and white.
Recently I was interviewed by a writer from Southwest Art Magazine for an upcoming article in the February 2014 issue. During that interview I was asked several questions about the road of my becoming an artist which of course lead to my college years and my inability to paint. Towards the very end of my senior year I had finally created to what I consider to this date my first successful painting and that painting always hangs in my studio to remind me that every obstacle can be met, tackled and eventually with patience overturned.
I majored in Communications Arts with a concentration in Illustration so all of my work from college revolves around illustrating stories. To this day I am not sure if I choose this particular book or if it was the professor but I illustrated the story "The Distance of the Moon" by Italo Calvino which was in his book “Cosmicomics.” I later went and illustrated the cover as well in color which I felt was okay but not as strong as the interior black and white illustration for “The Distance of the Moon.”
I would have to read the story again to tell you what it was about since it was so long ago but I can quote the passage that the painting was inspired by only because I highlighted it in the book with a note, "this is the piece!"
"And I recognized, we both-the Captain's wife and I-recognized my cousin: it couldn't have been anyone else, he was playing his last game with the moon, one of his tricks, with the Moon on the tip of his pole as if he were juggling with her."
Some of the imagery for this scene came from a previous passage where they describe the "pole" that was being used to juggle the moon.
"It must have been made of bamboo, of many, many bamboo poles stuck one into the other, and to raise it they had to go slowly because-thin as it was-if they let it sway too much it might break."
So from these passages my first successful painting was created and to this day I believe it was because it was in black and white. Color adds a whole new dimension to creating, which I understand today but just couldn't grasp back in my college days. Incidentally the man in the illustration is a college friend of mine who is quite the artist himself and I have started to see new figurative works by him recently that as they did back in school, just blew my socks off.
Below is the color cover illustration that i created a few months after the one above. My father, being the proud parent of an artist hangs this in his home office and every time I see it, I cringe.
Sometimes it good to walk down memory lane, it reminds us that what we now see as easy once was as difficult as what we have before us today. That is why "The Distance of the Moon" always hangs on my studio wall.