I am a painter.
It has taken me five years to call myself a painter. Here's my story:
Five years ago, I enrolled in an advanced painting class at the San Francisco Art Institute through its Adult Continuing Education Program. I hadn't painted much since college where I managed to only fit in three art classes in four years otherwise filled with physics, chemistry and geology classes. But a decade later, in an art studio whose ghosts included Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, I picked up a paintbrush, and began painting.
I was a corporate lawyer and wanted a creative outlet; something fun to do to balance my busy life which at the time included not much but work. Since I lived a short walk from the Art Institute, I signed up for an advanced painting class, the only class that fit my work schedule. It was January, 2010, almost five years ago to the day. A few days before the class, I got an e mail from the instructor Glenn Hirsch asking me if I belonged in an advanced painting class. Yes, of course, I replied confidently. I had always loved to draw and paint as a child. In another life I would have been an artist.
Now, five years later, I live that other life. Getting here, much like painting was a slow process. As a child, I painted when I felt like it. I'd paint one picture and hope it turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. If it didn't go my way, I'd tear it up and move on to another activity. Glenn's class, which I took five times, taught me three essential skills that helped me become a painter: discipline, patience and risk-taking.
Over the last five years, I have learned to be disciplined about art. Somedays my fingers itch to paint, but other days I am uninspired. Turning my art into a practice, however, means painting even when I don't feel like it. Talent and affinity might play a part, but I believe it's painting regularly that makes me a painter.
I've also learnt to be patient with my paintings, and work through frustration. My paintings are layered, and are painted over several sessions. I embrace the process and the struggle, and know that my first attempt at a painting is just that-- the first step.
And finally, painting in series, the only requirement of Glenn's classes taught me to take risks. Painting several paintings at one time helps me try new things, let go of perfection and take risks with my art. For every painting, I put up on this website, there is one that doesn't make it.
Painting is a big part of my life. It brings me much joy and satisfaction, but it is also a practice and requires discipline and dedication. I didn't go to art school and am not formally trained as a painter, but after five years of painting, I am now a painter.