The Total Dilettante

19 Dec 14 - O'Donoghue/Ross

I am an amateur (insofar as I do what I do, out of love for the chance of discovery – not for money) and the highest praise I have received from an art critic is the aforementioned ‘doesn’t have a very strong sense of direction’. You can’t discover anything if you already know what lies ahead. I want to change direction often, do it on a whim – and not take any of it very seriously.

We amateurs are entertaining ourselves with our pursuit and strong senses of direction are for the ambitious careerists who wish to build a clientele and an identity. We have no such plans, no grand scheme about how to get ahead or label ourselves. We blunder forward, always hoping to find an ‘undiscovered country’ – a better way to express our passion.

Professionals are cold blooded, and calculating – we amateurs are hot blooded and driven that’s why often enough we make the best scientists and artists – for we do it for ourselves.

I have never been particularly fond of being called ‘an artist’.

When I stayed with the late Mc Gillicuddy of the Reeks back in the 70’s and he saw me painting he asked if I was an amateur or professional.

Knowing him well enough I knew that he would be more impressed if I said ‘professional’ – but that was not how I really felt.

So I said; ‘Well – people buy these things and pay a lot of money for them’. That was all he had to hear.

The truth is that from my earliest days I had a marketable talent. I was paid to make pictures. Not so much in the beginning but over the years more and more until by the time I reached my early thirties I could write my own ticket with several Manhattan galleries and publishers vying for my services and achieving an International reputation and popularity.

It all became somewhat of a bore. I found that fame and money did not equate with happiness. In fact those things were somewhat of a trap.

So I left and came to the wilds of Ireland – where fame and fortune dwindled and happiness bloomed.

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