Thursday, December 19, 2013

Designing The Rest of Your Life

Multnomah Falls - a work in progress by Alan Krug
When we're young, we all think that we are invincible. With your first serious illness, that resolve begins to weaken but as soon as you are well again, you again become immortal and life goes on.

My first serious introduction to mortality occured when I was 55. A blood clot brought me within minutes of dying on a trip to New Orleans. Somehow I survived. More clots appeared a year later but in 2007 nearly 62 years old I got ill again with a clot that started in my heart and moved into my lungs. My life changed forwever. I more or less retired, fought for my Social Security and took up my art and craftng with greater intensity.

With a large collection of painted birdhouses, other crafts and canvases spilling all over the house and garage my daughter encouraged me to open an Etsy store. It turned out that my teacher whose really my mentor, who has been painting and teaching painting for over 25 years, liked the idea of an Etsy store too. I did her store before my own learning along the way. Once I got hers up I worked on mine and within a year had well over 100 items for sale. Now I approach 200 and have a few retired until the appropriate season returns.

During this time I had left one teacher for another and during the past two years watched my own abilities become better, some say much better. I took the chance and submitted paintings to be taught at the Las Vegas Painting Convention, I've joined the Pomona Valley Art Association and again entered paintings to be judged by an outside judge and hung paintings on the gallery walls to sell.

Artistically I seemed to have much to look forward too. While the store ebbs and flows with sales, I truly love painting. A blank canvas, unpainted birdhouse, a fetching tray or wooden plate are all invitations for decorating.  Entering my first three paintings to be indepentendly judged, I was both surprised and pleased to be awarded a second place prize on a painting I had literally finished two days before, my WHITE FENCE.

However, what is remarkable is that I was able to possibly finish my best painting during one of the most tramatic times in my life. In September a lump was found, a biopsy in October confirmed cancer and since then it has been a constant round of tests, meetings with doctors all trying to put together a plan of attack. Painting for me is a way to leave the real world behind. Instead of focusing on cancer I instead focus on design and color and balance ... in both what I working on and at moments what is left of my life.

While the cancer is considered aggressive the surgeon gives me hope. I plan on continuing to paint and with that in mind hope that I continue to improve! The last two years have been amazing for me in that I have grown so much as an artist. I get raves (but sadly few sales) from Etsyians who see my work and have had wonderful comments at the gallery. It is heartening. It is, at long last a dream come true.

So, in the days to come, God willing, I will concentrate on something that allows me to express myself, designing my life for the time that is left. Maybe it takes some catastrophic event in our lives that finally makes us focus.


  1. Nice painting, Alan. I enjoyed your blog post, also. You and yours are in my prayers. Keep painting!!

  2. Beautiful painting, Alan, and an open, engaging post. Warm thoughts for your improving health and best wishes for the holidays.