I love oil painting. I love the Muse’s enchanting spell when I pick up the brush. I love the smells and the mess she and I make together. And yet, it’s been an on-again, off-again relationship for over five decades. In 1968, after four years of a fertile, intense affair, I abruptly broke it off to satisfy an even more urgent need: Revolution! But once Chairman Mao put the Muse under house arrest, my passionate affair with Revolution slowly faltered.
I took up with photography and film. I enjoyed those visual flirtations but neither was my true love. After three decades of denying my smoldering, lingering attraction for oils I began to inquire whether any sort of painting would take me back. I started hanging out with watercolors and Chinese brush painting. They were fun––amusements if you will––good for traveling and hanging out in picturesque places. But, it still wasn’t like what I remembered from the 60s.
In 2008, I summoned my nerve and made a date with oil painting to meet in a studio. To my relief, it was as if no time had passed. We clicked, even after all those years. Not to say it hasn’t changed. My Muse is now a comfortable older lover. Neither of us is in a rush, but it’s just as enchanting whenever I visit.
And what makes it all the better, my wife encourages it, says it’s good for me.