September 24, 2002
Many people have passionately requested that I share this incomplete manuscript . . . With reservations I have reconciled to disclose, with authenticity, the seasons of my life.
"Although I have not yet read it all, I scanned most of it but could not "put it down" upon encountering "The Journey with Steven Russell". I would very much like to go back and read the rest of it. Then I would like to encourage you to let its light out from under the barrel and publish it for the others."
"That the manuscript is deeply personal is what makes it human, and your style of writing transcends readable to reach eloquent and often enough poetic."
"I do not feel qualified to predict with any certainty how "open society", much less those further to the right, would receive your work. It seemed far too easy for me to identify with what you wrote to trust my opinion about that. Nevertheless, it's comfortable to assert that publishing your manuscript would have a strong, lasting, and positive effect on tolerance and acceptance of gay people."
"The subject matter is also quite relevant to what is happening today. There has been public discussion that young people are so distanced from AIDS, that they do not fear it enough. Painful as they are, your stories should be told again and again. More important, how you dealt with the last days of Steven and the others is an inherently powerful argument for validation of same-sex marriage, in law if not in name. It cannot convince some people--nothing can--but it is difficult to imagine that everyone would escape its influence."
July 9, 1998
My dear friends . . .
Well here I am with scribbling in hand. Its been a long and arduous task thus far in its creation. Nevertheless, it is still unfinished, but nearer to the end of my efforts to tell a story.
I wanted to share with you what my labors have brought forth to date. However, realizing there has been no significant proofing or editing; I am naturally a bit defensive. Sorry, it’s my creative nature . . . always insecure, never really knowing what I'm about or doing. In my own defense, I'm a maker of pictures, not a writer. This word assemblage liability has made this endeavor even more difficult and trying, but I have determination and have stayed with the slow toil of putting into words this story. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s not so much the craft of writing, but the content that has taken me so long to sort out and apply in this narrative. Not easy stuff to write about in an articulate way. Recently my goal has been to develop this draft from cover to cover in order to see this expansive picture in its entirety. Regardless, as someone once advised, it’s my task to document the events and then leave it to an editor to make the story readable. So my friend you will find typos, misspelled words and perhaps poor grammar. I don't believe what you are about to read is my best effort. I'm just tired of looking at words and perhaps, at this time, lost all objectivity.
Speaking of objectivity, I need yours and what I would give for a road map of where to go with this gibberish. If the contents of this draft were totally rearranged, it's meaning could be altogether different. Well, maybe more interesting for the reader. I wonder what a ghostwriter could do with this material? Other than an autobiography of an artist, is there anything in this manuscript the general public might learn or even become enlightened about? I don't know. I'm not even certain if there is or what the massage is to the reader. If I knew, editing would be easier. And then, how do you end an autobiography, my life continues on.
For almost as long as I have been working on the text of this book, I have also been cataloging nearly fifty years of paintings and photographs to accompany the story in this manuscript. These images are now integrated into this web site. If you want to see all the paintings, graphics and photographs, this web site is linked to my "public site" where all the visuals live.
Words cannot express my gratitude for the time you may spend plodding through this effort and your response, if any, to my request for your objective insights.
Peace with Joy,
Throughout this manuscript I have attempted to bridge the separation between the visual and the interior person, to find the essence of both my work and myself. They are synonymous.
My sojourn to the wilderness was in the truest sense a maturing process, out of which has come a balance between my art and my humanity. To be candid, my initial intent was to just paint, and thought the humanity would take care of it self. This was not the case. I was in need of and found the person who was painting. This process will always be ongoing.
Growth has always been foremost in my work. As I grow as a person, that growth is reflected in my creativity. Within the creative act and life, one must be allowed to stretch, explore, take chances, and to go beyond the known and the comfortable.
For the artist who tries to support himself from the proceeds of his creative endeavors, the burden of maintaining creative integrity can become a true conflict and at times a compromise.
The conflict exists between the responsibility of maintaining the roof over one's head or being true to one's own creative growth. When that growth is stifled by financial constraints, I find myself becoming insecure, wanting to stay with the known, the tried and true, the comfortable. The painting that I am about to start already has a price tag on it. Money and the creative process do not mix, but I have to meet this month's financial responsibilities. At times I have compromised myself and my true creativity in order to paint a picture that I know will sell. Results: the mortgage payment might have been on time, but there was no growth. The painting was just a variation on a theme drawn from some past, true creative experience. The worst scenario: to prostitute one's skills in order to maintain financial security. In the long run, you become just another painter creating a decorative accessory for some interior decorator to hang over a couch because the colors match.
I have always questioned how best to achieve the need for honest artistic expression while meeting the day to day obligations of the material world.
Back to Index