when i was a teenager i went to visit a good friend. he knew i wished to be an artist, but lacked the confidence. he immediately thought of a family friend who was an artist, and brought me to meet him. his name was joe develasco. he showed me his work, and i immediately became unable to complete one intelligible sentence. to say i was blown away is an understatement. his work was incredible . this man was an artist for real. he actually "made a living" at being an artist. he supported his entire family on his artwork. why did this matter so much to me? because it told me that being an artist could be seen by the world as something valid. somehow i had gotten it into my head early on that art was a hobby only , and in life you need do what is practical. what can get you a living, what can bring home the money to support yourself. and you probably won't enjoy it. in fact, you should expect not to. it wasn't that someone told me i couldn't do it. it was everywhere. you don't get anywhere being " just an artist"
Joe DeVelasco was just an artist. and what he did, what he created, was important. real. valid.
he was so good, and I was so dumb, but he still treated me like an equal. he asked me what medium I worked with. I told him watercolors. the truth was, watercolors was what I could afford to use. they can last a long time, and an occasional pad of paper can stretch if you savor it. he asked me about my style..he cared. a lot. and I didn't have anything to say. i had no formal training. i had no idea what to say to him at all. i just gawked.
Joe illustrated " the singer trilogy" series by Calvin Miller. He gave me a copy and signed it.
it has always sat in a place of honor on my book shelf. this artist inspired me more than i can ever really explain.
he encouraged me. that encouragement lay dormant for many years , but a series of heartbreaking events pushed me hard enough that i finally faced that dream, and decided that it was important enough that i was not going to stand in my own way. it had nothing to do with making money or fame..( I'll never have either of those things) it had to do with feeling like it was important enough that it was ok for me to pursue it. someone said " this is important to you, therefore it is valid" such a simple thing really, but had such an impact on me. it's not important to anyone but me. but it's really really important to me. being an artist is who I am.
i have thought about Joe many times over the years. but was always too shy to get back in touch with him.
recently i found out that joe passed away many years ago . it was strange. i felt a sense of loss, even though i had only met him once, and the loss had taken place so long ago without me even knowing it
oh how important i think it is to be someone that inspires.
dear, Joe DeVelasco
from the bottom of my heart
and thanks Gordie, for knowing I needed to meet him