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Concept:

It is interesting where inspiration comes from. I usually sit in front of a blank canvas and contemplate my feelings. Sometimes, I can do this for hours. If I decide or latch on to something, I'll ask myself, "Why do I feel this way?" and then try to process that feeling analytically. I wouldn't grow from this experience if I failed to do so. 

I'll start with a section of the canvas and develop the overall concept as I work, and usually, the result is entirely different from what I wanted it to be at the beginning. Does that make sense? 

I started this painting in January 2023. It started with me wanting to paint on procrastination, but it became more of an acceptance that, as an artist, it's okay to balance art and living life and not have art be center stage at all times. I knew finishing it would take me a while because I'd switch to a different brand of oil paints, Old Holland. I wanted to push the paint to see its capabilities, and I love this brand. 

I wanted to ensure all the imagery and symbolism were based on reality. This painting is very allegorical, and there is a story to be told and a lesson to be learned if not by the viewer but then simply to myself.

I have many symbols throughout the painting; if the viewer never realized that, it would not detract from the viewing experience. 

The Red Oak to the left symbolizes "absolute love" or is construed as unconditional. The leaves are an extension of absolute love. Painting is an absolute love of mine, though there can be more than one absolute love in a person's life. For me, unconditional love is that you love something or someone no matter what, and nothing will change that – art and my family are my absolute loves. There is an open spot amongst the leaves in front of my easel where I would be standing if I were painting. Instead, the canvas is blank, and my palette is leaning against the large rock to the right of the foreground. What has come between me and painting is living and enjoying life with my family.

The picnic scene shows me leisurely enjoying life with my family (wife and kids). The top left corner of the sheet is folded over, the two plates overlap, and wine glasses denote intimacy between a couple. The other two plates are spaced apart, with juice boxes showing that they belong to children. There is standard picnic-friendly food: bananas, peanut butter, bread, and chips.

To the right of the picnic area is a large rock with a laptop with the image of Winslow Homer's painting "The Veteran in a New Field" and a drawing tablet with a pencil and eraser. All of these are symbols that I chose for work. I, like many others, work on the computer. The painting is a perfect example of showing labor, ie, work. Drawing is the foundation that goes into the representational-based artwork that I do. Work is the foundation on which we build our lives. You have to work to live one's life and afford their level of lifestyle.

Since I had a symbol for love to the left of the painting, I needed to have an example of life to the right. So, to the right of the painting is a tire swing representing youth; to the left is a cane standing upright, representing old age. Youth is in constant flux, and it always moves toward aging. Old age is more grounded and permanent. The tire swing is even leaning towards it.

I wanted the red oak tree leaves, which represent absolute love, and the green leaves from the portion of the painting depicting life to converge in the center of the painting to convey the importance for me and everyone to do what we love and do what we need to do to have a balanced and fulfilled life.

The Living Artist

Oil on Canvas - 48" x 20"

Finished December December 12, 2024

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