I am frequently asked about the relationship between the two and how they affect one another. To answer this it is necessary to go back to the late 1970s when I was engaged in the full time practice of internal medicine.
In retrospect I now recognize that my heart acknowledged my desire to pursue a career in art at least a year before my head did. I wanted to do this professionally, to make art more than a hobby or pastime. At the risk of appearing to be totally lacking in humility or modesty I have to say a word about my experience in private practice. I was a good physician. My strength was my ability to reach out to patients on a personal level, to listen to them, and to befriend them. My goal was to make patients feel better, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I took the time to listen, to educate, and to make them know that I cared for them and their families. The practice of medicine provided an opportunity to be present to and serve people in times of need, and this is a remarkable privilege which brought with it considerable responsibility which I gladly embraced. Their needs always came before any financial “bottom line”. I am not boasting; I am being realistic because this leads to one of the more powerful influences that medicine has had on my art, or more accurately, the influence that leaving medicine has had.
When I left my practice I was ending relationships with people who had come to trust me and count on me. In some cases the bonds were very close and I considered many of these individuals as friends. It was not without some guilt and remorse that I left this work, and I felt that I owed it to my patients and my profession to make the same commitment to art as I made to medicine. They deserved nothing less than that. . From the very beginning it was of utmost importance to me that my art be “serious”, even though I could not then, and cannot now, clearly describe what serious art is. My biggest fear was that artists, galleries, and others, would see me as a doctor with idle time dabbling in art. (I have never completely outgrown this fear.) From the outset I have been committed to creating the best art I am capable of doing and presenting my art and myself as professionally as possible. Thirty years later I still strive to remain true to that commitment.