Tuesday, March 12, 2013

110 Who we are

In 1981 my friend Joe Hebert invited me to join him in an ascent of Devil's Bedstead, a prominent peak in the Sawtooth Mountain range in Southern Idaho. The photo at right was taken by Joe at the summit, which was a vertigo inducing space with the footprint of a large automobile. Off the south side was a sheer drop at the bottom of which was an emerald lake nestled in a rock strewn valley. The beauty was as refreshing and austere as the mountain air. The only thing lacking was my plein air kit. And, more importantly, an ability to use it.

I discovered this photograph while going through some old reference files. What struck me about the photo was the look of total confidence in my eyes. At the time I was enrolled in illustration at Utah State University and working as a layout artist at an animation studio in Salt Lake City. I was making my way in the world. But I couldn't paint. I could barely draw and I wonder now how the studio managed to keep me on for three seasons without firing me.

Yet I envy that look of total confidence and wonder where it went. I have to remind myself that it was the look of total confidence. It was the confidence of the naive. I admire it but realize that since then I have accumulated many strengths that more than compensate for that look. But seeing the photo did cause me to shake my head with sadness at much of life with its mundane obligations, uninspired fellow-travelers, and all that weighs us down and pointlessly consumes our lives.

But the things I've learned far outweigh the things I've lost. Otherwise I would have abandoned the artistic journey long ago. The photo reminds me that the exuberantly optimistic boy is still alive. He has taken a few blows and is worse for wear but he still lives. He has taken the guise of an aging man but continues to thrive despite the ongoing wear to his camouflage. That optimism, that exuberance so common to youth, is who we are . . . still.

Brad Teare March 2013


  1. LOVED this post. Probably my favorite of all that I've read from you. It was touching and profound.
    And I relate:
    "That optimism, that exuberance so common to youth, is who we are . . . still."

  2. clap, clap, clap.....
    A thunderous round of applause.

  3. Thank you Rettakat and Jim. This is my most personal blog yet (I tend to stick to the business fo painting) but I felt pretty strong about posting it. Your comments are a much appreciated boost!

  4. Brad, this made me think "what would I have done then had I know what I know now?" Would I have forged doggedly ahead with such naive confidence, or would I have given up after seeing the vision of how difficult it is to make any type of career as an artist. I like to think I would have still soldiered on but I bet I would have worked with a different, smarter more fearless attitude. I spent too much time trying to satisfy and impress others and not enough time trying to figure out what kind of work I really wanted for myself. The good news is that I think I am only at mid career with my best work still to come. Here is to the next 20 years of working without the hangups of the past.

  5. Your work is awesome Greg yet you are unafraid to grow. That is a great combination. I'm like you though, if I had understood the art field better I would have pursued my own vision more. Perhaps that is a flaw of the illustration business, we were forced to follow our successes. But illustration allowed me to be where I am despite being one of the most naive artists to emerge from Kansas. This photo proves how high a Kansas boy can go (pun intended).

  6. Brad-

    I very much enjoyed this entry. It's been one of my life's greatest honors to be your brother. I've admired everything you have worked on. But I've never envied your choices. They've been difficult. You've never chosen the easy road. Instead you are the "road-less traveler." You make your own path.

    I see you as an experimental artist or art inventor. You see the world through different eyes. You have been a peer, mentor, and tutor when needed. You're one of the people who keep the world fresh and new.

    There is a human bias to romanticize our younger years. They seem more vivid in our memory. This may be because of the weird brain chemistry and altered state of youth. Nonetheless, those memories shape our today and tomorrow. You had a remarkable renaissance man experience early in your life. It still drives you. You're prolific.

    Keep going.


  7. Thanks Steve. I appreciate your observations. I think of you as a renaissance man, too. Maybe that is because we had such eclectic interests as kids. It is true that as we age we see the world through the amber lens of nostalgia which tends to filter out any ambiguity. But still that look is there in those eyes despite any revisionism we might indulge in. Thank goodness for young people who constantly renew the world with that optimism! :o)

  8. What a fantastic photo and even better story!

    I'm glad to see that you still hold true to who you are and to continuing to surface that inner optimism!

    Fantastic, Brad! Made my day! thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks Robert! Your enthusiasm gave me a much needed boost.


Thanks for your comments!


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