As someone who is fascinated with cultural rituals and traditions, I spent a lot of time thinking about what turning 40 means to me. My first thoughts dwelled on the physical aspects of getting older: the receding hair line, the slower metabolism, the need to stretch ALL THE TIME. But once I made my peace with those things, I wanted to dive deeper and find out how I really felt about turning 40. To do that, I turned to art.
Since my early 20s, I’ve processed my strongest emotional reactions to the events in my life—both good and bad—through creativity. Outgrowing the religious faith of my childhood, the passing of a loved one, moving on with life after divorce and then finding love again were all sources of inspiration for a creative outburst that resulted in teaching myself how to play guitar and banjo, writing six albums of original folk songs, and connecting with people across the globe through that music.
For the past six years, painting has been my creative outlet. So, as I started thinking more about turning 40, I decided to focus the emotions that were stirred by those thoughts into a series of eight abstract paintings. With titles like Past Your Prime, So Many Sunsets, and Legacy, it’s easy to see where my mind was as I painted each piece. But while the titles suggest a looming mid-life crisis, the truth is just the opposite. Confronting those emotions and channeling them into colorful pictures made me realize how satisfied I am with my life up to this point; that even the toughest experiences have directly influenced some of the most gratifying.
One of the paintings is titled Every Day’s a Birthday, and it’s the name I’ve given to the series, which was on display during the summer of 2018 at Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, KS. For me, the phrase serves as a reminder that every day is an opportunity to be the start of something new; that no matter how many years the calendar might say I have, I’m only as old as I want to be.