Sunday, January 16, 2011


This is the second of several posts on my experience of transitioning from medicine to art. This mini essay was first published here three years ago.

What am I doing sitting on this pile of trash in an empty city lot?

It was a Thursday morning around 9 AM, sometime in the spring-summer of the mid 1970s, a time when I should have been attending Medical Grand Rounds at the hospital. This was a weekly presentation by the medical residents of interesting case reports to the rest of the house staff and attending physicians. It was, and perhaps still is, a weekly ritual, one that I had been attending faithfully for the past 6 years.

So what was I doing sitting on a stack of old mattresses in the middle of an empty city lot? I was drawing the back of a row of dilapidated houses, entranced by the texture and shapes of the scene before me, not knowing I was in the process of discovering the artist that had been tucked away somewhere deep within, a process that would take about 4-5 years. To say it was pure pleasure would be less than true; guilt and insecurity were sitting right beside me that morning. My lines of thought went something like this; “what am I doing sitting out here when I should be at Grand Rounds? This is ridiculous, thinking that I am an artist, or could become one. All I can do is draw small sketches with this Parker 45 fountain pen, shit, I can’t even paint!” And on and on, you get the point.

But, guilt and insecurity were not enough to pull me away, and I found myself spending more Thursday mornings in the city streets with my sketchbook. I carried a small canvas shoulder bag holding my sketchbook, papers, pencils, and always, my faithful Parker 45 fountain pen. Within a few years of that experience I began cutting back on my office hours to create more time for my art.

This is the scene that held so much attraction for me:

and another...

And here is a later watercolor of the complete of several I painted...could not resist the colors and the textures...especially the texture.

No comments: