Portrait of the Artist as a Young Barfly

People are beautiful. Art is a compulsion. These two facts combine when I go to bars. That looks like this. 

This tends to result in friends. Most people want to be seen. Really seen. Recognized.

And when you look at someone like you’re going to draw or paint them—if you’re doing it with the art of their face in your heart—you’re seeing them. Art is about recognition in the heart. 

Perhaps for this reason, compulsive bar drawing also often results in commissions. 

Like the commission that came out of seeing Paco. Paco was sad when we first met. He got sadder when he realized he’d set a beer down on one of my wet oil paintings tucked in the back corner of the hostel rooftop bar. But I could see that Paco was basically a strong and happy person. The person you see here looking up at his dad, remembering the day when he was a little kid when his dad taught him math on horseback. The photo he’s holding are his dad’s hands during his last rites. The image also appears on a tattoo on his chest.

And in his new painting. 

If art is about seeing people, then travel is about meeting them where they are. That’s why the two work so well together. Because when we’re not inured to details and locked into routine, we’re more present. More alive. More seeing. 

And I don’t know what else life could be about. Although I’m bound to learn.