Monday, January 17, 2011


Mr. in between, kinda makes a fellow mean...Mr. in between. The only words I remember from a drinking song I heard one night at a party of interns and residents many years ago...Appropriate words to introduce this third post on the transition from medicine to art.

The journey from physician to artist was painfully slow and costly, but in the end, worth all of the turmoil and distress. One aspect of the transition that I did not anticipate was feeling lost between two worlds, medicine and art.

For me the practice of medicine was all about the primary care physician, the general internist or the family doctor. This is how I identified myself, and this is the world I left behind when I left my practice in 1981 for part time work in the emergency room. Although I was still in contact with most of my medical colleagues, I felt estranged from medicine. I was no longer active in our local and state medical societies and in the teaching programs in our t hospital; my priorities had taken me out of that world. Others may not have noticed, but I felt I no longer belonged.

The problem was, I did not feel I belonged to any community of artists. I was a novice at the very bottom of a steep self learning curve. There were no artist friends and colleagues to replace those I left, and to even call myself an artist was almost unthinkable and impossible to do. I had no studio and my art was simple and limited. I was haunted by the fear that galleries and other art professionals would not take me seriously, thinking of me as a physician who was “dabbling” in art. Probably the most difficult aspect of this time in my journey was the absence of any role model. Although several of my medical colleagues were accomplished Sunday painters, I knew no one who was attempting to work two careers simultaneously.

Some artwork from the early 1980s

For the first few years into this new life I was lost between two worlds, and it was my unshakable belief and trust in what I was doing that allowed me to continue. In the years since, there have been moments of crisis and self doubt, but I’ve never lost that basic trust in my dream.

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