Recently I had a unique experience as an artist and nurse. At the hospital, I was stopped by someone I vaguely thought was a former patient, or perhaps a family member or supportive friend of a former patient, I really don’t remember.
Lung Ta (Wind Horse) oil stick on vellum 2007 by Julianna Paradisi
This person, however, not only recognized me, but knew I painted the art hanging in the infusion clinic where I once worked.
“You sold the horse print.The one over the reception desk.”
“I really liked it. It was good. It was a print, right?”
“Thank you. Well, actually no. It was an original painting. I used oil sticks to make it.”
“What are oil sticks?”
“They’re similar to oil pastels, but big, like cigars. In fact, painting with them feels like how I imagine painting with a big, greasy cigar might feel. But they air dry over time, unlike oil pastels.”
“That sounds really messy, but your painting looked neat and precise.”
Mt Hood Triptych #2 oil on canvas 2016 by Julianna Paradisi
“I really liked it.”
“Thank you. So what do you think of the painting of Mt Hood I made to replace it?”
The the expression on her face gave her away, so I threw her a bone.
“Not so much, right?”
“It’s okay. I liked the horse.”
“I really appreciate your comments,” and I meant it.
As an artist I’ve stood through many gallery openings and art receptions. It’s rare for anyone to ask about what inspired the art, or how it was made. No offense intended to anyone, but a common experience for artists at gallery receptions is being approached by people wanting to talk about themselves or their art, not yours. They didn’t come to view the art.
I’m enchanted by this woman who spends her time in an infusion clinic considering the artwork on its walls; becoming fond of a particular painting, and wondering how it was made. She wasn’t there to view the art either, but she did. Not only that, but she had access to the artist, who is a nurse going about her nursing duties, until this brief respite, when the two of us discussed the art.
I do not believe such things happen very often to artists or nurses. I am grateful it happened to me.