This is a self portrait painting. I try and do at least one a year, sometimes two. One of my paintings in the background and a definite focus on messing with the grid system but adhering to other laws of perception.
I always look so serious and mean. I’m a big guy too, around 6’2″ and 260 lbs – I look imposing and mean, even though I am a nice guy to be around. I’ve had a pretty rough life but I don’t act like it. I guess if I have a self-portrait I should talk about the subject matter – I rarely do.
I have been a struggling artist about a decade. I’ve been into art all my life I just never pursued it as a way of life. Now when I say struggling, I don’t mean struggling to create art – I mean everything else. Life is a struggle, you don’t have to let it bring you down. Oh – if life is not a struggle for you, you’re doing it wrong. We almost always need to be trying to do things we have never done, try things we never tried and so on… it should be an enjoyable struggle. When you have kids, you should be struggling to raise them right – it doesn’t come easy. When you create art, don’t do the same thing as the last thing you did – that’s easy. Make it a struggle.
I grew up spending time out of school in Yosemite with my father, fishing on the Snake River. Then I returned for the school year with my mother – in a gang infested ghetto in the early 90’s. A lot of people don’t understand what the early 90’s “Colors” era was like. I fought several times per week, had guns held in my face, fired in my direction and never once resorted to putting a gun in my own hand or joining a gang for protection – I walked alone and fought alone. The Marine Corps. was my escape after speaking at my graduation about overcoming adversity in life. A few years later it was the street teaching me new lessons – not able to find a job – I entered a life of homlessness. I didn’t have to be on the street, I was offered places to live but I couldn’t be a burden so I just went on my own. Two years of homelessness were a slow grind – hard to find a job when you have nothing to wear and no way to get clean for one. Then I went to jail for three months for an assault, well three of them. When I got out of jail three months later, I didn’t really have anywhere to go and then a friend’s mother found an ad in a newspaper – a job fair for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and nine days later, I was flown to Texas to work in Ringling as a rigger. The job came at just the right time – four years later and a lot of miles of touring I was done. I had met the love of my life and returned home. Going into design and art I began working.
Now, a decade later I have two Bachelor degrees – one in business and one in art. But more importantly – I struggle in different ways now. Am I the father I can be? The husband?The artist? They are even harder than fighting. But now I am happy, although I don’t ever look it – it’s my face. Underneath that hard exterior though, is a guy smiling, laughing and ready to talk your ear off about whatever today’s interest is.
Robert Wheater is an artist living in Visalia, California – the Gateway to the Sequoias. If you would like to contact him to create art for you – email at email@example.com.