I took up art ten years ago when I was fifty-six. I was nearing the end of a long and satisfying career at the University of California. Because my work at UC involved a lot of writing and speaking, I thought it would be interesting to do something completely different, something visual, not verbal.
I began taking art classes through UC Extension. Most beginners wisely choose to concentrate on a particular medium and subject. I did the opposite. From the start, I have dabbled in everything – pastel, pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor and oil. I like to do landscapes, still lifes, figure studies, self-portraits and abstracts. I recently took up printmaking and have tried my hand at etchings and monotypes. I like to think that what I lack in depth I make up for in breadth.
My impulse to try everything is getting worse. This past year, I started to play with matches and began painting with fire and smoke. I found that working in an unfamiliar, ornery medium made me go back to the fundamentals and focus on making interesting, varied shapes, light, mid-range and dark tones, lost and found edges and simple, abstract compositions.
Sometimes I think that I should stop being so scattered and focus, focus, focus. Then, I say, “Naw. Not now, maybe later.”