Art has always been important in my life. The smell of turpentine drifted from my father's studio (which he had built bigger than the total of the rest of the house). My first memories were filled with fruit I couldn't eat because they were arranged on the table for a still life my dad was painting. I watched fascinated at three as he painted his self-portrait with three strategically placed mirrors.
On Sundays before church, the whole family helped Daddy load his panel truck with his lovely oil paintings separating them with sheets of cardboard. I still remember how heavy they were as the wires dug into my little hands. But they were on their way to Lake Eola where most
were painted en plein air. Here they were displayed on easels surrounding the Lily Pond by the big Lake Eola, the symbol of Orlando to this day.
Scenes of Lake Eola covered every inch of his truck and even his everpresent pith helmet. Yes, he was eccentric but he would claim only to be an artist and thus unafraid to be different from the masses. Everyone he felt should be proud to be an individual. In a world of sheep, he was a crocodile. . .well, an artist.
But everyone in my family was an artist. My grandfather had been a professional photographer but designed bridges during the war. I had two of his old cameras, big wooden boxes taking only black and white pictures but colorized by him. My mother made beautiful pineneedle baskets, each unique and thus a work of art. The long leaf pine trees became hard to find and
now are almost extinct. But that is the fate of much of the fauna and flora of Cental Florida. My family felt preserving the special beauty of Florida through art was a duty and calling.
My father had a "real job" as supervisor of the Traffic Engineering Department of Orlando. He made the silk screens for all the traffic and street signs in Orlando. This was before decals or computers replaced the precise hands of artists like my dad. I called him a crocodile but perhaps dinosaur was more appropriate.
By sixth grade word had gotten out at my school that I too had that magic touch we artists don't fully appreciate. Is it nature or nurture? Or is it just a curse? Either way at 11 my teacher picked me to create a mosaic to hang in our new cafetorium. So my art career began and almost ended at 11. Who wants to miss
recess everyday to stay inside doing an art project?