Another in a 2014 guest column series which builds on the one in 2009 where 50+ had written about how science /tech has evolved their hobby/interest.
This time it is Don Berk who I met when he was Creative Director at Gartner. Don introduced electronic visual support, special effects, multimedia, and even theatre to our presentations. It was at that time that Don saw a need for coaching and refined his skills. He had done this as writer, producer, and director of his video production company. The common thread in all these diverse videos was the engaging and persuasive performance of each company’s spokesperson. Here he writes about something he is even better at – his paintings and his sculptures
Few of my recent acquaintances (over the last couple of decades) knew it but my Master’s from NYU was in Art with a primary focus in painting. When my new girlfriend first visited my home, she asked where I got the cool art. When she learned I did it, she encouraged me to enter Donna: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman in the Bucks County Sculpture show. I was pleased it was accepted and surprised when it was an award winner.
After a stint as a working artist in New York, family needs took precedent and I put away my paints. Work and painting or work and physical activity? My daughters thought I should paint until I asked them, “Do you want me to still be ambulatory when you have kids?” They quickly said, “Go exercise, dad.”
I had a video production company, and when one of my clients, Gartner, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I became their creative director. Perhaps the biggest draw was the collegiality of these brilliant analysts, and the chance to learn about IT from them. I saw a need to coach our presenters and began developing my speaker seminars and workshops that I still constantly refine and use today. After all, I had experience pulling performances out of corporate reps for a wide variety of companies, most of whom were Gartner clients. The ability to provide instant feedback via video is an enormous aid. My speakers don’t need to take my word for it; I can show them what I see, and the lessons stick.
I moved to Pennsylvania in 2002 and worked as a communications consultant and speaker coach I was plugged in even more. During stints as Director of Communications for a couple of global pharmaceutical companies, I had to be accessible. The 24/7 thing can become addictive. Now, if I leave home without my cell phone, I feel naked.
But it’s exhausting to have no alone time and I needed a way to recharge. With one daughters out of college and the other a senior, I set up my studio in one of their bedrooms and I’m at it again. I sit in my studio, plug in my iPod, and dance around my canvass, listening for it to speak to me. I have a reminder sign that proclaims “Movement Defines Me & My ART”. I hear my creation tell me which colors to use and where, what positive and negative space to emphasize, what movement to accentuate? I may sit silently for more than an hour, contemplating the painting’s current state and what nourishment it needs to grow to completion. And upon completion, I live with it for a while to see if it’s truly finished. It’s my respite from the digital 24/7 world. My painting stays old school and I stay sane, or at least relatively so. Unplug to recharge!
Tech takes over, though, when a piece is finished. Although I show and sell most of my completed pieces at Rich Timmons Gallery in Doylestown, folks also reach me through my web site, (although it’s hard to appreciate a piece that’s 48” x 36” or even larger in a snapshot). When a work I’m particularly fond of is finished, I first turn it over to Graphic Imaging. They digitally scan (much like a high resolution copier) and prepare it for reproduction as a Giclee.
Over a series of sessions, I direct the finished resolution based on desired brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, etc. I may even alter it from the original if I decide that I prefer that version. This super high quality reproduction is often printed on canvas and mimics the original so closely that it’s hard to tell one from the other. Clients can buy an affordable high quality reproduction in whatever size they desire and the original remains for me or one of my high rolling patrons of the arts.
What pleases me most is the act of painting, but I must admit that I love hearing people talk about my paintings and what they see in them when they don’t know I’m the artist. I take pride that the paintings are great companions over time and people are always discovering new elements in them.