OK, so what's that got to do with art?
Flying got me back into painting but as you may have noticed; there are no airplanes as subject matter in my work. Lots of sky and clouds, however. I painted in high school and then gave it up soon afterwards. I discovered photography when I was 25 and spent the next two and half decades as a serious photographer. I have a modest resume of exhibits and some published photo-journalistic credits in a series of national magazines. I loved (and still practice) the craft which taught me much of what I now know about light, composition and visual impact.
I also earned my pilot's license in 1997, a lifetime dream. I was a member of a flying club which shared rental of a small Cessna 152. Throughout the next year, however, I never could get the plane during the day because of other members. Undaunted, I began to fly right after sunset, mostly in winter when the air was crystal clear. Flying over my valley was like visiting a fairyland of tiny villages with twinkling lights. It was a delightful tableau and something sparked in my mind.
Around the same time, my mother started to nag me about my art. She was always a supportive fan of my work. "How come you never paint anymore?!" she would wail. It had been decades since I had given her anything to adorn her walls with.
Never underestimate the power of a nagging Jewish mother. They are an unstoppable force. When the Borg proclaimed, "Resistance is Futile", they had these women in mind!
I pretended to ignore her and then went to the art supply store and bought a canvas, brushes and several tubes of acrylic paint. Having no idea what I was doing, I painted the canvas and found myself at 8000 feet looking down at a city in sunset. I was stunned. "Where did this come from???" I was soon to learn that paintings have a mind of their own. They tell you where they want to go. All you have to do is listen and not get in the way. I sat and stared at it for a long time before christening this new creation "Why We Fly".
For the next six years, most of the subjects of my paintings took place in the clouds looking down at Terra Firma. In 2003, I met my future wife, a geologist (and a Scorpio) and a funny thing happened. I began to descend and become more grounded both as a person and as an artist. Moving to and exhibiting in the Southwest brought buttes, mesas and sagebrush into landscapes that lay under heavenly blue skies and miraculous clouds. Head in the clouds but with my feet now firmly on the ground.
Another unexpected thing occurred. I have always loved flying and there were times when I never wanted to come down out of the Wild Blue (unfortunately, God invented bladders and fuel tanks with limited capacity for such a situation). On days when the sky was filled with puffy white cumulus clouds, my body would literally ache if I could not be aloft among them. But now in New Mexico, where I am blessed with unlimited skies and more clouds than I ever could have imagined, I no longer feel that need. I can sit on my porch, gaze out over the vista and be content. Maybe it’s because I can see seventy miles away just where I am. Or maybe I have some kind of internal altimeter that tells me that I’m already at altitude.
Whatever the cause, I wonder what intriguing images will come to the fore the next time I pick up a paintbrush and begin that creative journey.