34 years ago in 1986, I had already spent well over a decade building an automotive career which was vast in scope. It seemed as if I had spent most waking moments thinking about or working on something that had to do with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. This blossomed into sales and management which inevitably hadn’t made me happy. I found myself longing for something…else. I know now that I was creativity starved, not just hungry. I’ve come to know that many of us with opposing thumbs, who walk the earth on two legs, may eventually experience this type of emptiness. The problem is, some find that they either don’t know how to fix it or think that responsibilities won’t allow them to.
I was lucky, I did something about it. I chased my heart and what was beating there was an unquenchable thirst for inspiration, creative endeavor, and becoming fuel for the thoughts of others. So I quit a great job to became an artist. The transformation took roughly two years, but they were not wasted. Instead, they were simply the crawl before the run.
That was about thirty two years ago, and looking back, the process of becoming an artist was honestly easy overall. Becoming a successful one, now that required patience, strategy and passion. But it did happen. My definition of success as an artist was feeling that which I created was worthy of the skill I had acquired and that I was being paid fairly for my efforts while also enjoying some recognition as an artist. I accomplished all of this and more, especially in how I eventually positioned myself as a big fish in a little pond.
One thing I never planned on and barely saw coming, was retirement from painting. When I was in my mid-50s, I thought I would be painting paintings well into my 70s and 80s. Sure, the pace would change, but the brush would still move. From that time forward I found my writing increasing, which is something I have been doing since my high school newspaper, where I had my own column on cars. Today at 65, I’ve come full circle and I’ve become a contributing writer for the Porsche Club of America. While I’ve just been commissioned to paint another painting, the Tom Neel I was as a painter of the Piedmont of Virginia is dwindling. It has been almost one year since Linda and I moved to North Carolina. The purpose I once found in each day of enriching myself in the countryside near Middleburg has mostly gone away. It’s because I’ve gone away, and the artist I once was has largely gone away too. I am no longer the premier painter of the Piedmont. Day by day I slip further back in the minds of those who knew me, but hopefully, my paintings of the area will live on in the hearts of those who own them.
I must admit, though my life is amazingly blessed, it’s an adjustment not being who I was and become who I am. To make matters more complex, as I entered into what I will call semi-retirement years, I did so with reasonably exciting plans to travel a bit more, but as we know “it” interrupted all of our lives. Still, I am a creative person with a thirst for inspiration, and I find myself finding myself once again. Pandemic and all, I suspect many including me, are rebooting their onboard computers (brains) and some will never be the same.
So, this reboot comes at an interesting time for me and what I’ve decided to do is take a break from blogging. I’m so appreciative of all who have kept up with my blog and hopefully found inspiration from it. My book Live An Artful Life remains the bible of my way of thinking and an archive of these blog posts will remain, as I believe most of the information I have shared never gets old. If I do return to blogging there is a good possibility my topics will be different, as it will be a reflection of what I’m up to at that time.
Thank you for our time together. Please know this, for any questions at any time, you can always find me through ThomasNeel.com, contact info at the bottom of every page.
Be well and please, Live An Artful Life!
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