I was sad to learn this week of the passing of Jerome Ryan, a fine artist and special friend. Jerome was a talented portrait artist who was a graduate of the Minnesota Institute of Art. I met him when he moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland with his wife Alex.
Jerome and I had many long discussions on various aspects of art. I learned a lot from his views and advice on everything from art history and business to watercolor papers and making your own pastels. Jerome had a vast amount of practical knowledge that he was more than happy to share with other artists. He was encouraging and honest in his observations of my work and I respected his opinions.
One of our most memorable discussions was on the philosophy of being an artist.
“There is an important difference between art as an avocation (or hobby) and art as a vocation.” Jerome told me. He explained; In the case of the former one can create art, or not. There is no pressure. Accepting art as a vocation however indicates that the artist has made a commitment to work toward making each painting better than the last.
As simple as that goal sounds, it becomes more difficult as the years and the artist progresses. Each of us has but a limited amount of natural born talent. Once we have reached the boundaries of that talent, we can only continue to make each painting better than the last by increasingly difficult effort.
Jerome’s comments have become my ‘Artist’s Creed’. To make a commitment to giving one’s best in every painting is important to maintaining artistic skills as well as artistic integrity.
Jerome Ryan will be missed. Nov 21 2011