Sketches of My Life

Virtually all the images in this book are included in the galleries on this site. If pictures are indeed worth a thousand words, there’s not much else to say really; this book should not need much introduction. But I may as well provide a few excuses:

I was sick a lot in my early years and spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals with many surgeries my first six years – I really can’t remember how many.  I got tired of hearing the accounting – so let’s just say I had lots of time in bed where drawing was the most normal thing a kid could do. That more or less established a lifelong habit. At six my folks put me in an oil painting class with a bunch of elderly ladies – not unlike the portrait class I took after I retired, I suppose – but as a kid I didn’t like it much. So most of what I have done is just because it was what I did. My high school crafts teacher put some of my stuff in the Regional Scholastic Art Contest in Seattle my junior year from which I received an award on a drawing I don’t think much of, and an honorable mention on a figurine of an ape that I had done. I also won the Skagit County Art Contest as a senior receiving a scholarship for art, so I took the stipend and signed up for a couple of classes in drawing at the University to justify having accepted the money. The picture I won it with was a watercolor of a herd of mustangs racing through a colorful wash simulating dust. I liked that picture a lot. I don’t know what ever happened to it; I don’t think I picked it up from the hotel lobby in which it hung in Mount Vernon, but I seem to recall having given it to someone there who said they liked it; I just can’t remember.

My first art class at the university was most enjoyable, but the second wasn’t – still life drawing with calipers didn’t appeal to me much – so I took no more art classes. But my university notebooks – as later my engineering meeting notes – were always filled with caricatures of speakers and comrades integrated right into my notes.  My art teacher that first quarter at the U bemoaned the fact that Sputnik was taking many of the most talented potential artists – making engineers of them. I was certain that I was going to be a physicist (not just an engineer!) and the purity of that science would justify almost any sacrifice. But a physicist with only a B. S. is (as our professors told us) a half-baked cake. Having fallen in love and married my junior year at the U – which is another of those things for which any sacrifice is cheap – I was forced to find employment for which computer engineering (college curricula having not yet been envisioned for that discipline) was a logical choice. I continued taking graduate courses in physics, but after the first quarter in which I did not enroll because of business travel, I never went back to the difficulties of going to school while working. I realized eventually, of course that all the thoughts of ‘sacrifice’ were just rationalizations – that anyone with proper motivation can indeed have cake and eat it too. But I ate cake and would certainly not undo that decision! And in the background of my life I have satisfied my deed for artistic creation and learning about the universe. The former aspect of that dual life is documented here.

There have been periods in my life for which there are no extent examples of my doodles, and indeed there were years when I did that very little. But even in the middle of such a period I might get an urge and begin working with clay on the living room floor and work all day and night and realize in the morning that I had just created an ephemeral image for which a lot of work would be required if that relief sculpture of racehorses was to survive longer than the experience of creating it. Months later – having made the wrong decisions of what processes to employ – I did in fact have an imperishable, if somewhat muted, version of what I had conceived.

But although always an amateur and always doing it wrong, I continue to be driven at times to create. I find creating something new the best part of being truly human.