Sunday, September 17, 2017

Debby needs Decades

Decades for Debby
Judy Takács
Sometime between kid number 2 and 3, I came up with a brilliant justification and mantra for why I was not yet a successful painter…”You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”
Sometime later, I heard Madeleine Albright say it and now she gets all the credit, but remember folks, I thought of it first in the late 90s.

For me there were three phases of my personal “having it all”.

Phase 1 (1986 or so) where I was the breadwinning graphic designer and illustrator. Phase 2, the fulltime mom phase, began late in the last millennium, with the birth of my second son. And I kicked off Phase 3 by christening my new painting studio in January of 2009…and thus began my life as a full-time professional artist. As I turn 55, I’m hoping it continues for another 40 healthy years or so.

Debby, twenty years younger than me, didn’t embrace this particular quote of mine. 

She wants to be an amazing mom to her three kids… now.
She needs to be the family breadwinner…now.
And she has a fire burning with her to paint portraits…NOW!

My Sister’s Battle
Debby Bird

She explained her impatience to me when I saw her portrait honoring the sister she lost to breast cancer at the age of 38. Debby’s gorgeous tribute had been accepted to the Portrait Society of America Members Only show, so many others saw it too.  


The death of her sister showed Debby that you may not have 40, 50, 60 years to enact the master plan and give each phase your undivided attention. 
She saw first hand how someone young was robbed of the luxury of waiting to achieve her dreams. 

For Debby, there was a justified sense of urgency to enact her dream to be a phenomenal portrait painter, though she didn’t discover this dream until she left her architect job six years ago to stay home and raise her kids. During those years, Debby hoped that she could make up the income shortfall with painting commissions, and found that she absolutely loved painting portraits and was very good at it too. 

Life however, happened, and she had to return to work as a fulltime professional architect and family breadwinner… along with raising three young kids and pursuing portraiture. Debby is now working very hard on all three of her worthy goals, but the complexity of doing her best at each has her feeling very much frustrated…as if she’s barely keeping it together. 

For her Chicks pose, Debby chose Disney balls to represent her children and wrapped them in duct tape…the universal DIY product to “fix it in a pinch.” Debby actually has a history of creative duct tape projects including creating her own duct tape shoes and a gown to wear for her school’s Annual Beaux Arts Ball. 

DYI is what Debby does, and that’s how I met her.

A few years ago, I was in charge of the Portrait Society Cecilia Beaux Forum group page on facebook. At that time it was a lively, interactive social media force, where portrait artists could gather (virtually) and discuss art and life issues as they came up. 

Debby, an aspiring portrait painter had asked about whether we could have a critique component to the page. She was painting alone at home with three preschool children and was seeking professional art guidance. I checked with Portrait Society headquarters to ask how and if this could be incorporated. By the time discussions and emails were exchanged with the higher-ups and I got my well-explained, “No,” Debby had already started a critique group page of her own. 

Check it out and ask members for a critique of your work if you’re interested!

She was also looking for kindred spirit artists who are raising children while building an art career. So she started a blog interviewing the best figurative artists working today, who are also parenting. And for those who think this is a woman-painter issue only…it’s not. Many of the painting parents she interviewed are the fathers. It is often the artist in the family who has the role of primary caregiver because of flexible schedules and unpredictable income. 

Check out her many interviews on the aptly titled, “Is it time to color? Painting Parents” blog.
And somewhere in her extra long list of projects lie the seeds of a fascinating series painting the people of Appalachia, close to where Debby lives in Kentucky. This portrait series in particular, is one I know she will execute beautifully with sensitivity and care for this hidden and misunderstood population.

A woman after my own heart, she takes the ball and runs with it…even when no one has given her a ball. I don’t worry that Debby will achieve her dreams, because she absolutely will stick with it AND keep things together. My wish for her is that she will have many many decades to build the art and live the life she so totally deserves.

And, in the American spirit of DYI, sticking with it and keeping things together, Debby’s Chicks painting was exhibited at the Southwest Artists Annual Juried Exhibition, “Art of the Heartland”.

She's returned home now, and I'm thrilled to announce…

Decades for Debby
is a
Finalist
Portrait Society of America
2017 Members Only Competition