I could not end this look at those who have influenced my artistic journey without mentioning these artists. They have inspired me to want to paint, in some cases just by painting. While excellent painters, at first it was less about how well they could paint than it was that they did.
If these men and women who found success in other areas could achieve something in their art, to me it meant that I could. Of all of them, I believe the one who inspired me the most is a man who I’ve long admired as a singer, Tony Bennett. Born Antonio Benedetto, he was in school to become an artist before he ever found fame as a singer.
Over the years he has achieved both, his paintings being very successful under his given name Benedetto. Among his achievements as an artist include a painting in the Smithsonian and the National Art Club. I enjoy his work very much, but what I first loved and still do is that he talked about his art. By making others aware that he was an avid artist, it inspired me to revisit art as well.
I believe this was because my passion for it was not becoming financially wealthy as an artist, but becoming a better artist. Thanks in no small part to Tony Bennett and another couple of men I’ll mention in a moment, I was encouraged to paint, and to keep painting. As a Christian and a Minister I believe that this was not by chance, but part of my Ministry. I’ve used art in Ministry and in other areas so it has become an outlet both creatively and inspirationally.
Following Tony Bennett in his art led me to a few others I never expected to see with a brush in their hands. I should mention this is solely about the painting of these individuals, having nothing to do with politics in any form. One was Sir Winston Churchill, a historic figure I long admired. For him art was both a challenge and an escape, and like Bennett he did it well.
Some will argue whether he was a great draftsman etc but honestly for me it’s irrelevant. I enjoy his art, believe that he painted well, and more importantly the fact that he painted inspired me to paint. His interest in art added to my desire to continue to pursue it. It also led me to a few new discoveries.
Churchill was not the only former executive who painted. There was Presidents Grant, Eisenhower, and George W. Bush. Both Eisenhower and Bush painted because Churchill had inspired them to paint. I believe their interest in art was more than a hobby, more than an escape, but a pursuit. While I don’t know their thinking, it reminded me there is always something to strive for, to achieve, and there is no reason not to keep trying.
Duke Ellington painted, I know that because of Tony Bennett. Because of Tony I learned about painters such as Raymond Everett Kinstler and Michael Shane Neal. Both of these artists was directly in connection with Tony Bennett who became a student and dear friend of Kinstler. Indirectly because I know knew to look for painters outside of an art broadcast or gallery, artists such as Frank Sinatra, Fred MacMurray, Jane Seymour, and Pierce Brosnan.
From these artists to the famed Currier and Ives from the lyrics of a Christmas song, each has impacted my art journey. Painters such as Grandma Moses proved you are never too late to start. She began painting at seventy eight years young and would live to be one hundred and one years old. Her art career lasted over twenty years and proved very successful in many ways, chiefest of all for me being the inspiration.
The purpose of mentioning all of these artists is not only to recommend you look up their work, but to encourage you to begin your own. Whether you have ever thought of picking up a brush, or always wanted to but weren’t sure, I hope these stories inspire you. For all of these it was not the story of a young adventurer seeking a life, but of those interesting individuals who added a new chapter to their lives.
What they did you can do, by adding another chapter to your life. Whether it’s art, a hobby, or a new endeavor, something that is healthy and brings joy to you will bring value to others. If your art does nothing more than make you smile, it will cause someone else to smile at your joy. My prayer is that if it leads you to art in some form, it will inspire you to impact others in a positive way.