My 71st Birthday Confessional

by TerryWalstrom 49 Replies latest jw friends

  • TerryWalstrom
    mgmelkat7 hours ago7 hours ago

    Did you ever become the artist you wanted? Would love to see what you created!

    My first actual job as an "artist" was in a large company called TRIANGLE ART. It was, more or less, a factory of sorts. I was hired as one of a group of 10 artists whose job was to reproduce multiple copies of wall paintings. These paintings were designed by two fellows who went on to become my best friends.
    Guess what?
    I had never painted anything before in my life!
    (Unless you count fingerpainting in the first-grade elementary school.)

    My chief talent in art stemmed from an uncanny natural ability to draw hyper-realistic portraits of human faces.
    I could say a lot about this, but I won't bore you.
    My drawings seemed to impress people. To this day, I cannot understand why this is so.
    I digress...
    Imagine you are a Dentist hired to perform an appendectomy and you'll understand my situation.
    My one natural gift was "non-transferable" to painting! Yet, on the strength of my interview and "chemistry" with the two head designers--I was hired.
    I did a Google search and found an image which pretty much nails what we were asked to do.
    The idea was this.
    A landscape, for instance, was created by the lead designers and approved
    by the salesmen as something they thought they could sell.

    These designers then "broke it down" into stages, creating
    intermediate canvases even a moron (like me) could copy.

    Was it really Art?
    Ha ha ha ha ha. Don't be silly.
    These WERE paintings and the art was eventually framed and sold.
    People DID buy them
    But was it Art?
    Ha ha ha ha.

    A "Certificate of Authenticity" was created verifying some wholly invented

    nonsense about the non-existing Artist. "Anton Chichikov, master painter
    from Ukraine, escaped the iron curtain of Communism during Premiere
    Khrushev's regime and fled to France where he adapted his vision of

    beautiful blah-blah-blah into this remarkable piece of blah-blah..."

    Within about a month, I approached the owner of the company with some ideas
    for how to improve working conditions and pay for the artists.
    I proposed an INCENTIVE SYSTEM.

    The owner, Richard Friedman, a Hungarian Jewish fellow who wore his shirt
    open exposing the plethora of white hair on his chest and his bright gold chain,
    approved the idea and promoted me to the foreman position.
    This unexpected outcome meant I no longer had to paint schlock!

    Why am I telling you this?
    I am a writer now--why wouldn't I turn it into part of my life story? :)

    From that promotion forward, (are you ready for it?) I never really had to
    create any original art of my own for the rest of my art career!
    In fact, the lead designer R.S. Riddick was about to launch his own etching
    business and he stole me as his own employee.
    My whole life changed!
    I moved from Cucamonga, California (at the foot of Mt. Baldy) to Redondo Beach
    in South Bay.

    I was trained to mix colored ink, apply the ink to etching plates, prepare the
    rag paper in a bath of water, and to soak and dry it--then, lay the plates on
    a thick blanket surface in a large motorized roller press and--PRESTO!
    Pulling back the blanket, and peeling off the paper, the freshly minted etching

    appeared. After it dried, we often hand-painted watercolor areas, or added

    a poem I would write. Finally, Art galleries all over the U.S. ordered these

    original, limited edition etchings from our traveling sales force.

    As a Jehovah's Witness who had only worked horrible jobs cleaning toilets, building mobile

    homes, and painting houses--I was in heaven working in an actual Atelier
    in the incredible paradise of California.

    From that position as Master Inker and Pressman, I became the de facto C.E.O.

    of R.N.R. Graphics, when the Artist himself moved on.
    I hired more artists to replace him and changed the direction of the company.

    From there, I went to work as an Art Consultant and salesperson in Beverly Hills at
    Billy Hork Galleries.
    Most of my stories involving Hollywood celebrities began about that time.

    From then onward, I learned Custom Framing techniques and hired on at
    Creative Galleries about a mile from MGM Studios.
    What a fantastic experience!
    I made friends with set decorators for TV and movies

    and consulted on Art installations for all corporate hangings.

    The moral of this tale?
    I NEVER REALLY USED my artistic gift per se.
    Amazing and ironic? I think so.

    The only piece of original art I own which I created, is my very first drawing
    from 1965 when I discovered (and was discovered) my portrait talent.
    From that first High School era drawing, I did contract work in Fort Worth.
    I charged whatever I thought I could get--which wasn't much.
    My longing to use this one tiny talent just about ate me up until I moved
    away from the drudgery of janitorial labor and Jehovah's Witness bondage.

    I took this iPhone shot of that one piece. It is hanging on my wall.
    It is Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia

    For "Good Luck" I have used this drawing on the cover of both of my books

    Product Details

  • nugget

    Happy birthday Terry hope you have a good day you post was intriguing I found it interesting thank you for sharing.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Don Magno (still an artist today, Terry Walstrom (a writer) Arvant Benjamin (lost touch with him.)
    This production facility had artists from Germany, Thailand, the Philipines, Mexico, etc.
    We were a ragtag bunch.
    My horizons were expanding like crazy. From a JW Pioneer to a fledgling painter in an art factory.

  • myelaine

    Happy Birthday Terry!


  • Listener

    Happy Birthday Terry. I always enjoy reading your stories. You've led a full and interesting life.

  • JW GoneBad
    JW GoneBad
    I appreciate all my Ex-JW friends who stop to read what I write and post. You help me more than you know simply by BEING THERE as a sense of 'family of friends' for me to talk to and 'share' thoughts with.

    Amen to that and enjoyed your thread....happy 71st pal!

  • nancy drew
    nancy drew

    Happy Birthday and may you continue to embrace change and not allow fear to stop your quest for what is true.

  • Driveby

    Hi Terry,

    I'm about a month older than you. I, too, have PTSD but from being an infantry rifleman in a war. You didn't miss anything. The good thing is that we've both outlived about half the folks who were born when we were.

    I think I get what you were saying about your artwork. I went to an art class half a dozen times about four years ago and started an oil painting. I took my painting home and did most of my painting there, which at first frustrated my instructor, but eventually she said, "You got it." I really don't know how I did it and became frightened that if I touched it again, I would ruin it, so I never did.

    I went through a divorce about 10 years ago and left the cult shortly after that. A couple of years later, I got married to a wonderful, positive thinking lady and have not revisited my deep depressions since.

    Your story is fascinating. Being a Jehovah's Witness AND being successful is almost an impossibility. Glad you got out.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Driveby, thanks for sharing that.
    The number of "genuinely" creative people in the world is, I think, distorted by a cheapening of standards in popular opinion.
    The less informed each generation becomes (by diluting exposure to classics) the less able society becomes to judge worthiness.

    American Idol proved at least one thing in those endless auditions at the beginning of each season. Lots of people fool themselves and won't listen when confronted with their flaws.

    Our lives can be stifled if we are Jehovah's Witnesses through constant exposure to unauthentic references. We become a storehouse of fictional observation and tastes.

    I struggled with that for the first twenty years I was OUT of the Org.
    I sought to redefine almost every concept and vocabulary word I possessed to purge the tainted brain repository.

    I'm happy to hear you have achieved balance and joy in life.
    An attitude of gratitude is hard to beat.

  • AllTimeJeff

    As always, well said. I can relate to the over compensation.

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