At the end of our street in my hometown was Frum’s funeral home.
I may never know why Diane Frum taught oil painting lessons in the garage of the funeral home next to the hearses, but I’m forever grateful that she did.
The way I found out she did this is just as curious. She sold penny candy in the garage: Wax lips, those sugar dots on the paper, candy cigarettes, Zotz (the sweet hard candies with sour fizz in the middle,) Jolly Rancher sticks, Now and Laters, and those wax bottles with the liquid inside. My brother and I used to ride our bikes to the funeral home garage and buy a quarter’s worth of candy. He’d leave and I sit on the floor of the garage with my back against the tires of the hearse and I’d watch Mrs. Frum teach her students how to paint.
Then there was Bob Ross on Sunday afternoons.
Every cent I earned went to penny candy and horse paint-by-numbers. There was always a how-to-draw-a-horse book in my possession and I worked tirelessly teaching myself.
My senior year of high school, I wanted to go to art school. My journal (that I burned in 2014) had this entry:
December 14, 1989
“I decided to take art classes through the mail and all everyone could do was laugh at me and cut me down. That hurts really bad! I’m sitting here, in tears, trying not to let it get to me. I hope I make it big and show all of them up.”
I get tired of talking sometimes.
Sometimes I want to put the words away. There are so many of them, always, people talking, people thinking, my mind racing, putting together their words with their expressions with their energy so that I can decipher the real meaning of their never-ending words. The radio is on, the TV is on, people are talking and laughing and there’s never
I want to drown out the thoughts with color.
I want to breathe in the color and let it fill me and lift me up and carry me away.
And so I do.
I shut the world out and I paint.
First, with my dominant right hand, the hand I was forced to use as a child. Then, when I really want to go deep, I pick up the brush with my left hand and I watch an explosion of intuitive knowing come to life dipping down and bringing up inspiration from a well that never runs dry.
I paint so I don’t have to tell the stories.
I want you to feel them. I want them to enter through your eyes and I want to follow them as they dive deep into your subconsciousness so that your dreams are now the dreams I once dreamed and brought up from the place you didn’t know existed. I bring it up, I make it something tangible, something you can touch and experience.