Who am I?

As basic a question as this is, it’s one that I’ve always avoided answering. I enjoy being the chameleon, the one who could step into any role that needed to be filled. The scientist, the healer, the brute, the poet, the lover, the strange, silent guy mumbling to himself in the corner; I’ve been all of them at one time or another. Until now, I’ve never claimed the title of artist, despite creating art for the vast majority of my life. It seems like I’ve tried every career path I could to avoid being a professional artist, but none of them ever rang true.

I was born and raised along the southern coast of Maine. Got my black belt in karate and began teaching to help put myself through college. Graduated with a degree in chemistry and went to work in an analytical lab. Began taking tai chi and studying to become an acupuncturist, but ended up getting a scholarship to a medical school in Maine, which made medicine the more financially viable path for me. My time in medicine was brief and I went into biotech, which was an equally uncomfortable fit. Just before my dive into art, I spent an extended period operating my own bodywork practice, while teaching anatomy at a medical school on the side. Throughout all this time, I kept telling myself that I would do art seriously, once I felt I was “stable” enough. At a certain point, it became obvious that the “right” time would never come and I was going to have to make art a priority, or it would never happen.

Despite what many people may believe, art is not easy. I don’t make art because I want to; it is a relentless compulsion that drives me to create. A cruel taskmaster that demands that I manifest the crazed visions that blossom within me. How does one paint joy or sketch dread? I spend agonized hours in internal conflict about whether I should use quinacridone violet or magenta. My job is to bring the impossible to life and accept the inadequate fruits of my labor. My work is a solitary endeavor. I can’t even talk to others about my work, since few are interested in the intricacies of paint viscosity or the difference in tooth between smooth and vellum Bristol board. Don’t get me wrong, there is joy involved, as well. Making beauty is an ecstatic experience, an act I consider to be my highest purpose. I claim the title of artist with a great amount of pride, but it is a role so ill-defined, often times outside the very boundaries of society, that there is a butt-clenching level of fear that accompanies that pride.

Of course, I want to be rich and successful, but, right now, I’ll just be happy if I don’t shit myself.