I’ve always been fascinated by art and drawing since early childhood. I have clear memories of painting with watercolor at my grandparents kitchen table. In Junior high school I was voted best artist of my class and I dreamed of one day going to an Art school post graduation. I even picked out a couple of institutions that would befit me.
That dream came to end when my father told me that Artists are poor and make no money. He said “Do you know why they are called starving artists”?…”It’s because they don’t make any money.” He continued. He then explained that he would only support two schools, and the college money that was left for me was to either go to University of Oregon or Oregon State University. I was to pick a major like business, engineering or perhaps teaching, but not art.
And even though my art teacher saw my potential and recommended an art career, my parents did not.
I ended up dropping out of college as I had no desire to pursue anything else. So I started working. And I worked many cruddy jobs, sometimes busting two jobs at the same time. During this time I didn’t paint or draw a single thing and ended up giving away all my art supplies. I went about 13 years straight with no art in my life. No spark.
Fortunately for me though, I was a hard worker and excelled at my jobs. My boss took notice, pulled me into her office one day, and straight up asked me “Rich, what do you want to do in your life?” What is the one thing that you would never tire of doing?”
“Painting”. Even though I hadn’t done anything art related in 13 years, “painting” came flying out.
“You mean like, art?” she pondered
“Yes.” I said
“Ok. you are to go enroll in beginner painting 101. Don’t worry about time away from work”
I worked at a University and staff were allowed to take classes, granted they had approval from their supervisors. She granted me that. So I did, and started up with Acrylics and Oil’s, then onto Pastels. It was like learning all over again, and it took me some years to gain confidence.
In mid-2017, I left my 17 year job and joined my wife on our business. It was a year in planning and we set a date and wrote that down in a calendar; June 9, 2017.
Upon joining my wife with her business, I quickly realized that I have an opportunity to really pursue my art. So I started painting. In 2018 I created exactly 100 paintings, For 2019, I’m on target for 200 paintings. I average 4 paintings a week.
In May 2018, I’m opening up my very own gallery in downtown Portland, OR. I have no idea how successful I’ll be, but that doesn’t stop me. In fact it’s rather exciting and scary at the same time to walk out on this limb.
It will be the first Oil Pastel gallery of its kind with all hand-painted originals.
One day, I’ll be an old man and will reflect back on my life and the choices I made, and the absence of pursing my art will not be a regret. Suffice to say, I have nothing to lose. So why not? At the very least, I’ll have thousands of paintings and my name will be known.
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Copyright © 2019 Rich Arriagada