When we are not vigilant, we find ourselves hobbled by pronouncements that seem to mean something, but in reality, don’t.
Take, for example, the widely accepted assertion that if we don’t start an activity — playing the piano or speaking a second language, say — by the age of five, or seven, or three, then we won’t succeed. Too many people give up before they start because they’re convinced they missed their chance.
Fortunately, many others choose to believe in themselves as opposed to “expert” asseveration, and, as a result, find themselves happily doing things they were assured they could not do. Frankie Laufer is one of these people.
A self-described late-bloomer, the College Place, WA, artist began painting at the age of 40, and 30 years later, he’s still intensely at it. With hundreds of finished works behind him, he looks forward to a future of hundreds more to go.
One Day He Decided to Paint
It all began on a day, he said, when “I just felt internally that I wanted to paint, so I went to the art store and opened up a tube of paint. I smelled it, and put some on my finger, and at that moment I guess I knew . . . ”
Born and raised in Walla Walla, Laufer moved to California in the late 70s, and while there, met and learned under Benjamin Blake, a painter in his own right. On a regular basis for 30 years, Laufer painted at Blake’s studio in a 110-year-old house, a situation he described as perfect for talking about his work as well as creating it.
“Ben never talked about right or wrong. He only addressed the painting in terms of what was working and what wasn’t.
“This is how the painter hones their skills: painting, absorbing, and listening.”
These elements — painting, talking, meditating, listening, thinking — form the basis of Laufer’s training, and they have served, and continue to serve him, well, he says.
“I didn’t have any formal training at all, and really developed my style through painting,” he explains.
“Art school can help teach formal technique but cannot teach passions or creative process. That is an internal process, not external.”
A Place for Creation and Creativity
Laufer moved back to the area last year, saying that he feels “nature more fully supports us in our birthplace.” When looking for a house, he kept an eye out for one that had two dedicated rooms: one for the actual painting process, and a second for storing the work.
“In my past studios, I often had very little space. It’s nice to be able to spread out and have room for paints and easels.” Nice, but not necessary he adds, recalling the time he painted in a garage.
“Space is nice, but one should be able to paint anywhere.”
As much as he enjoys painting, and spends a significant amount of time behind the easel, Laufer describes his favorite moment of each day as that which he devotes to meditation. The time spent in intense thought spills over to when he paints. Thinking, he says, inspires creativity.
“When I settle down to quieter fields of activity, this allows the mind to experience the Self — which gives rise to more creativity, silence, and energy.”
Success Requires Time
He does not try to make a statement with his work, he adds, nor does he make conscious external decisions about what will be his next work. While he may have a vague idea or intent, he finds that when he starts the process, the paint usually dictates the direction. And that, he points out, is what matters: the actual process of creativity:
“Success in painting is having the time to paint.
“If you have time to produce your work, you already have it made.
“Don’t spend much time worrying about making it, selling work, being famous, or any of that.
“Spend time painting, only focusing on that: what follows is not important.
“A painter paints. That is their role.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.