Where were you and what were you producing as an artist when you were 26 years old? I was a working artist in an advertising agency that I hated and a young wife and a mother of a 2 year old living in Arizona. Good times, huh?

Have you been or are you still friends with an artist who you love and hate for the art they produce? I have several, especially from my college days. They are those friends that make you feel happy and at the same time envious of the attention they get for their art.

I just attended the Sargent show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. I LOVE Sargent! I think we could have been friends. I HATE Sargent!

Per the NGA, the greatest painting ever produced by an American artist was made in 1882 by a 26 year old living in Paris. His name was John Singer Sargent. He was young, gifted and making a name for himself. The painting is “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit”

Now, look it up and decide for yourself how it makes you feel. If you have children, chances are you will recognize each daughter’s attitude considering their ages. The sulky teen and her close in age sibling who wants to be her friend but doesn’t quite get why she is so sulky. The eight year old who wants to pose well for the artist and is really interested in being friends. And the toddler who is just doing what she wants to. Sound familiar?

As in most Sargent paintings I feel that I am solving a riddle or mystery. Perhaps that is why I love/hate him so. After attending the NGA show, which was about his days in Spain, I felt a lot happy and a bit sad. Although I am a successful artist of today there is no way I or my fellow artists could bring to the world the excitement and conversation that Sargent did. The guy was a somewhat reluctant genius. But I’ll leave it up to you to reacquaint yourself to his art and his life. I bet in the end you will love/hate him too.