Isn’t it wonderful that as we age, one of the rewards is that we finally get to feel comfy with ourselves? That after a life well travelled, we find a special comfort zone. Fully accepting ourselves for who we are. And best of all, we learn to live with the person we have found ourselves to be.
But then isn’t it equally shocking, how it can all suddenly be tossed into mayhem and be questioned by one single significant event?
Often, that event can be a traumatic one. But in my case, it was from simply sitting on a dock, fishing, with a free wandering mind, watching the sailboats glide by.
And rather than it being about a profound new discovery, it was the opposite. It was the young me buried deep inside, saying hello to the old me, asking “Is it my turn again?”
As a bit of background, many of you know that I had never picked up a paintbrush before 2005. And I do mean never. The desire to paint came out of nowhere. I am completely self-taught and this life-changing shift in middle age to becoming a successful visual artist still surprises me to this day. (And for which I am ever thankful and eternally grateful.)
BUT…while I never had picked up a paintbrush…I had picked up a pen. As a child, I doodled on EVERYTHING. Books, scribblers, any spare piece of paper, and I am sure, a few places my parents were not very happy about. And all I had at my disposal was an ink pen.
I had totally forgotten that.
Then one summer three years ago — completely out of the blue as I lazed on the pier fishing — some images suddenly flooded my mind.
Out of nowhere, I remembered how I used to do these and thought “I need to see if I could do this with my paints!”
The next thing I knew I was at my easel, and these images flowed out of me as if it were yesterday. As if I were ten again! As if, no time had passed at all. But now, I can add my fifteen years of artistic skill to them.
What I find most incredible is that these had been sitting inside of me — ever so patiently — for the last forty years waiting to come out. Patiently biding their time, until the time was right. Waiting for their chance to fill me with joy again.
And are they ever!
I find it interesting that when I first released this DOODLES artwork series that a lot of the reactions I received were: “it seems to have an aboriginal influence ” or “a first-nations feel”. I even heard people say they felt there was some “Mexican vibe”. In any event, a very “cultural” kind of comment was often the response. I was even asked what artists inspired me because while it was colourful like most of my usual work, these were different. There were even circles in them!
While people may think there is some form of cultural or ethnic influence in these works — and I am okay with that — the truth is there is not.
There could be nothing further from the truth.
These are Andrew.
Andrew at 10 years old.
Ready to be seen again.
Since embarking on this series, I have sold many canvas-based artworks in it. Here is an example:
But the greatest leap of all is that it has expanded the body of work that I do. I have discovered this style works well as a mural and I have recently completed two projects in Toronto incorporating them.
Who ever thought I would be painting murals? Not me, I can tell you that!
The first is a massive Rainbow Mural in downtown Toronto that I created and dedicated to my community. To give back for all I have been blessed with. You can find the full story on it here.
The second is the entrance to a brand new LGBTQ wing in The Wellesley Rekai Centre Care Home in Toronto. Another cause close to my heart. You can find a time-lapse video of its creation here.
Who thought this ten-year-old in me still had so much yet to give?
As you look at my artwork in this Doodle series, I hope you enjoy meeting this part of me as much as I am loving getting reacquainted with him.
And if a long-lost part of you comes knocking on your heart out of the blue one day? My suggestion? Don’t turn away. Throw open your arms and let them in. Embrace them.
They are every bit a part of the you that you had gotten so comfortable with.
There is always, still more to learn. And another journey to be had. Stay open to it. It’s surprising where and when it can happen.
All Images Are © Andrew Stelmack
Andrew lives in Toronto, Ontario Canada. You can see his ever-evolving artwork through his various solo and group shows in Toronto as well as through the many galleries carrying his work in Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Prince Edward County, Gananoque and Oakville. His works are found in many private and corporate collections and his work has been presented as gifts to Ministers and Members of Canada’s Federal Parliament.
As well, Andrew has recently launched his first novel called SEND IN THE CLOWN which is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Blog / Website: astelmack.com