One  Sunday my grandfather took me upstairs to a small bedroom in his house and in the back of a closet he removed a small box. It was the remains of a paint-by number set and in the box were maybe a half dozen or so some small tubes of oil paint. Several of them leaked and they smelled like linseed oil. The tubes had names  written on them; raw umber, ivory black, terra verte, canary yellow, and phthalo blue.

“Art is informative and entertaining, it condenses and clarifies the world, directing attention upon particular things. This intense showing, this bearing witness, of which it is capable is detested by tyrants who always persecute or demoralize their artists. Art illuminates accident and contingency and the general muddle of life, the limitations of our time and the discursive intellect, so as to enable us to survey complex or horrible things which would otherwise appal us. It creates an authoritative public human world, a treasury of past experience, it preserves the past. Art makes places and open spaces for reflection, it is a defense against materialism and against pseudo-scientific attitudes to life. It calms and invigorates it gives us energy by unifying possibly by purifying our feelings.” Iris Murdoch

Making a painting, or writing a poem, or singing a song is a way to show that you lived.

My mother’s mother had a sister who lived in Wormerveer in the Netherlands. She was married to a painter and as a young boy I went with my family to Holland where we spent an afternoon with them.  The painter, Jan Wijnands, had a small store front where he sold his local landscapes. I remember the shop being small and smelling of oil paint. The couple lived in the back of the shop in a larger apartment which you entered by pushing back a thick velvet curtain.  I felt like I was in a magic shop.
When my parents died I inherited two small paintings by Jan. They are traditional dutch landscapes. They aren’t great paintings but all my life they served as a role model for living a self made life. They made me want a studio and shop like his, with a velvet curtain.