Q: Was there a pivotal time in your life when you were forced to choose between two different paths? Do you have any regrets?
A: In 1988 I was a Navy Lieutenant working at the Pentagon as a computer analyst. I hated my boring job! For about two years I had been taking drawing classes at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA and was rapidly improving. More importantly, I discovered that making art was endlessly fascinating and challenging.
After much soul searching, I made the scary decision to resign from active duty. Sept. 30, 1989 was my last day. I have been a professional visual artist ever since and surprisingly (to me!), have never needed a day job.
However, for fourteen years I remained in the Naval Reserve, working in Virginia one weekend a month and for two weeks each year. After I moved to New York in 1997, I used to take Amtrak to Washington, DC. I would go from my full time New York artist’s life to my part time military life. It was extremely interesting to be around such different types of people, to say the least! On November 1, 2003 I retired as a Navy Commander.
I have never, ever regretted the path I chose. I love being an artist and would not want to spend my life doing anything else.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
A person is not an artist until he works at his art, no matter how eloquently he speaks during the cocktail hour or how fine are the images that come to his mind. As David Salle, the visual artist, put it, “It’s easy to be an artist in your head.” We, as artists, know this. We realize that often we are not able to translate our vision into splendid art. Even the finest artists write books that are not great, paint pictures that are not great, compose pieces that are not great, involve themselves in projects that are not great. But artists can only try – and must try.
When you love what you are doing, know what you are doing, and do it, a confidence is bred in you that is the best stretcher of limits. Then you can say, as the visual artist June Wayne said, “Now when I start something, I expect to carry it off.”
Eric Maisel, A Life in the Arts
Comments are welcome!