One of the best outcomes of working with 84 year old Cherokee artist, Bert Seabourn, has not been what I expected. Bert is a fine expressionist painter with works in prominent places all over the world. I thought I’d be learning how to loosen up and, perhaps, become more expressive. I have, but not nearly to the extent I believed I would. Nope. What I got, I certainly never intended.
I admire all types of art – realism through representational to the non-objective. Bert’s art form is largely representational expressionism with the occasional abstraction. He has a preference for figurative and portrait work. His style is so unique you can often spot past and current students in a under a minute. As much as I was able to loosen up in works like Waiting for Spring, I discovered I was searching for something else. I have always thought of myself as a landscape painter, yet most of my teachers have been painters of animals, portraits and figures. A friend of mine told me upon completion of Man of the Tides, that it was about time [I did a portrait]. I suppose it was.
Late last year, Bert put a photograph of a woman firmly down in front of me and said, ‘you paint this today’. Bert is generally easy going, but he wasn’t going to let me skate past this. I grumbled for a few minutes, sat like a deer in headlights for a few more, then became completely absorbed in the process.
After trying a few more here and there over the last 11 months, I finally had a success with Man of the Tides. And I loved doing it. The harder I worked, the more I loved it. I would lie in bed at night, solving the issues I stumbled on during the day, hoping to sleep quickly so I could look on him with fresh eyes and keep working. This is the feeling I have been aching to find since it went missing a few years ago.
So, it seems apropos that Bert is the subject of my next portrait. Like Man of the Tides, my imagination will be in the background elements. They are not in the drawing yet. I’m still working out the pattern. I am very excited and I still have so much to learn. Perhaps this piece, too, will move my work forward… At the very least, I’m hoping it will be a fitting tribute to a great teacher.