Awfully Human


I was just perusing the news online and came across a story about noted American painter Thomas Kincade.  The “Painter of Light” passed away last Friday, April 6.  His brother Patrick discussed the toll public outcry against Thomas and how it affected him.

Chances are, we are all familiar with Kincade’s artwork.  The “hardcore painting community” kinda hated on him because they felt he was too mainstream.  I don’t get this.  Isn’t the idea as an artist to have your ideas reach as many people as possible?  Why else would I post my blogs on Facebook and Twitter?  Why bother if you don’t want your work to be seen, read, heard.  Yet Kincade was bashed by his peers for having his work appear on calendars and such.

**I’ll note, someone recently told me that she likes me poetry.  That it’s simple and light.  That she could see it on plaques and scrolls and the like, decoration kinda shit.  And you know what?  I’m ok with that.  A man has to earn a living…

It apparently bothered Kincade that so many of his supposed peers were shunning him.  Combined with a split from his wife, Kincade began drinking.  This is what ultimately lead to his demise.  Success is such a fickle condition.  Here, this man did what he loved and created some amazing artwork.  Yet it cost him.  I’m not going to assume what happened with his marriage.  But when the art community, or at least a part of it, turns its back on you, that’s gotta sting.

Reading the story, I was reminded of a girl I dated a few years ago.  We went on a whopping three dates!  I think we were both just really bored, so we got together to not be bored alone.  Anyway, here’s the breakdown of our fling:

Date 1:  After meeting on some lame-ass dating site, we decided to meet at Starbucks.  About as generic a first date possible.  Well, we get there, order drinks, sit at a table.  She was cute.  I was as dashing as ever.  As the “date” went on, I noticed I was doing a good bit of the talking.  Might have been the nerves, coulda been the coffee.  Don’t think I needed a triple venti black-eye with a half-pound of sugar.  Yet, there I was.  Speaking.  I thought I was doing ok.  Made her smile a few times.  Cracked a few jokes that led to laughter.  Being myself, only more jittery.  Once I noticed how little she was talking, I clammed up.  You know, to see if she would speak.  Nope.  With nothing to lose, I put her on the spot.

“So, you’re not saying a whole lot,” I challenged.

“You’re not giving me a chance to say anything,” she fired back.

“Well, here’s your chance.”

“I don’t have anything to say.”  Now, this should have been the end of the date.  I should have excused myself and that woulda been it.  Nope.  Not me.  Not Rob.  I’m a stubborn fucker.

“O.K.  If you had anything to say, what would it be?”  Who’s on the spot now, bitch?

“I’d say get over yourself.  You’re not that funny.”

The sting lasted for about 5 minutes.  Who the fuck was this girl and what did she know?  First of all, I’m hilarious.  Secondly, she should try a personality.  I heard they were in that fall. I’m not sure how or why, but we agreed to see each other again.  Leading to:

Date 2:  Simple dinner at a Houlihan’s up in Warminster.  We met, ate chain restaurant food, spoke in equal doses, and split the check.  Again, a very generic date.  No one got harmed and we figured we’d do it again.  That takes us to:

Date 3:  It was a nice autumn saturday and I picked her up at her house.  We headed to Peddler’s Village in Bucks County.  That area is pretty, the leaves weren’t quite changing, but still, there was some nature and all that crap.  We walked around a bit.  I bought myself a toy at the toy store.  Not a kiddie toy, but a really cool set of figures that starts with a lizard and gradually “evolves” into a human.  Funny and nerdy.  I was letting me inner dork out.  My date seemed confused.  Fuck it, I thought, this is date three.  I’m getting some tongue.  Anyway, after we ate lunch at some pub-type deal we browse some more.  One of the stores was a Thomas Kincade Gallery.  Apparently, my date was a big fan.  I was learning something here.  OK, cool.  She looked like a kid, gazing at the artwork, pointing things out.  Smiling.  Sweet.  Things were going good and we wrapped up our time at the Village.  We pull up at her house and she was fidgeting with her keys.  Facing each other, we said good-bye and I leaned in.  Then she turned her head and I kissed her hair-covered ear.  It was perhaps the most-awkward moment of my dating life.  Neither of us knew what to do.  She got out of the car; we waved as I drove off.  Never saw her again.  Ouch.

Now, for all you kids and singles out there reading this:  Don’t do what I do.  My tales, remember, are cautionary.

Back to Kincade, I was a bit surprised to hear that this man—a great painter, successful and wealthy—struggled with alcohol.  Not that he should be immune just because he was a success, but that his relapse was his demise.  Tragic, in a way.  His brother said something; his words are what sparked me to write this post, something to which I can certainly relate.  He said, of his brother:

“He wanted people to be affirmed by his work.  But he was awfully human.”

Wow.  That’s what happens in the artist’s soul, a tug-of-war.  Bearing your insides for the sake of others versus the reality that in exposing yourself, you’re open to attack.  I guess it’s all in how you deal with it.  When someone questions your sense of humor, keep telling jokes.  Just find someone who gets you.  If you kiss a girl’s ear, find one that will let you kiss her cheek (then work your way around…)  If you pour your person into your work, wear a thick skin for the backlash.

We’re all artists.  And we’re all awfully human.  Keep painting your canvas.  Let people see your light.

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