The Place with a Chime

10″x10″ Charcoal on paper

It’s not a very nice place.

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When a large audience is meaningless

Is this a good painting? Can you tell?

What’s a good painting, anyway?

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Gentle arms on my shoulders

“We brought some toys in case they become difficult”, the parents said.

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More than a painting

“Can you paint a portrait for me?”, the message goes.  “Here’s the photo…”

It was a picture of a young, smiling couple, standing in a busy street somewhere in the city.  Just an ordinary-looking picture, I thought to myself.

“Sure!”, I replied. “Do you want the painting just like the picture, or do you prefer a close-up?”

“I want it as it is.  I want us to be the focus, and I want the place and the beautiful colours.  It’s important.”

“No problem.  Oil painting takes time.  Can you wait 3 months?”

“It’s urgent.”

He paused for what seemed an eternity.

“I guess we will never be.”

We had not spoken, but even in his text there was a sense of desperation and sadness.  Suddenly, the picture didn’t feel ordinary anymore.  I felt an urgency, and a certain kind of pain.

“Early next week latest, ok?  I’ll place your job on top priority and work on it immediately.”

That gave me less than a week.

At once, I sent the canvas to stretch, and made a special frame so he could handle the painting while still wet.  Then, for 5 days in a row, I painted earnestly till the wee hours of night.  At times I wondered why.  There are better ways to earn money.  I could have turned down the job.  I didn’t even know him.  But it was more than a painting.  He could be sitting exactly where I was, brush in hand, every stroke an honest effort, every colour a symbol of hope.

We finally met, and I was shocked.  I thought I had met the wrong person, for the real man, skin to the bones, seemed to have lost half his weight.

He was grateful.  He loved the painting.  But we didn’t talk much.

I wish we did.  I wish I could do more.


16 years ago…

16 years ago, I spent my time searching for beautiful places to photograph.
Now, I spend my time discovering beauty in people.

16 years ago, I called myself a photographer.
Now… does ‘human’ qualify as a job?

16 years ago, I believed in being the best.
Now, I believe in joy.

16 years ago, I believed in finding my passion.
Now, I know life is a journey, and passion is nothing but an attitude.

16 years ago, I was 30.
Now, I feel like 20.

16 years ago, the more I run, the fitter I get.
Now, the more I run, the fatter I get.

16 years ago, I was happiest when my work was known.
Now, I am happiest when people laugh with me.

16 years ago, I’d feel hurt when people say I shouldn’t photograph nudes, because I’m a guy.
Now, it still hurts.

16 years ago, I woke up to the morning sun, and dread the day ahead.
Now, I wake up to the dawn, and paint the wondrous hues of nature.

16 years ago, I go everywhere with a camera and a bag full of lenses.
Now, I go everywhere with an open heart.

16 years ago, I dream of living in the mountains among the trees.
Now, I still dream of living in the mountains among the trees.

16 years ago, I found a new career.
Now, I’ve found myself.


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