I was one of those lucky people you hear about, who’s life’s work was not a job, it was a calling…. Until it
I can still summon the feeling of completeness I used to experience when I was up on the back of a race
horse, the knowledge that I was doing exactly what I was born to do. Until the split second that changed
it all – when my horse went rogue like a speeding car hitting black ice – clipping heels with the horse in
front of it, breaking its leg and flipping over on top of me crushing my spinal cord and paralyzing me
from the chest down.
My loss of my identity was complete. I had no other training or talent.
Struggling to find my place in the world, fortune once again shone upon me when a lady named Joyce
called me up one day. She said, “I’m bringing an artist out to teach you to paint.”
She arrived at our farm house with said artist in tow, and while he unloaded his small kit of paints,
brushes and paper, I made us all a cup of tea, all the while wondering at the kindness of this stranger
who would make the journey to my house when he didn't even know me.
He asked for a jar of water and proceeded to make magic on a piece of plain watercolour paper. I was
astounded by the beauty he created almost effortlessly.
The artist then proceeded to come out every Tuesday afternoon. I’d make tea and watch him paint.
When he left, he’d give me advice on my studies, and exercises to complete on the scrap pieces of paper
he’d leave behind along with one or more of his treasured instruction books to study from.
Our work continued over the fall and winter until one day I received a call from his wife, “Jim had a heart
attack,” she told me. “He’s dead.”
This young-looking man in his 50’s, who was fit and healthy, looking forward to painting extensively in
his retirement, was gone in the blink of an eye.
The first I was aware of Jim Adrain’s reputation and standing in the art-world, was when I attended his
funeral. To me he had simply been this really nice human being who was teaching me to paint.
I find that despite, or perhaps because of, the extreme bumps I’ve hit in the road of my life, I seem to
always migrate back to an urge to grab some paint and paper and lose myself in it.