Last year Trever and I had dinner with one of his former Painting Professors, Duncan Simcoe who happens to be one of the most unique people I have ever met - like his eyes were closed half the time we were talking to him. I like quirky people, normal is so boring sometimes. Trever credits him as the single-most influential person in his development as an artist, so as you can imagine Duncan and I couldn't be more opposite. But I like him, I like the type of people that would fly all the way to Frankfurt to stand in front of one piece of art, not a whole gallery, one piece.
Duncan's wife passed away a couple of years ago. It’s a grief I cannot begin to understand; as CS Lewis says “her absence is like the sky, spread over everything”. Grief is like a club no one wants to join, and those on the outside look in feeling sadness but with no ability to really understand the pain or know how to interact with the insiders. After dinner he showed us some of his work in his studio that he has been making since his wife passed. I’ve never been good at art and sometimes I have a hard time understanding it, I think because it’s never said anything to me. But there I was in a chaotic art studio of a guy who made art because he had to, like he couldn’t live and not make art. His work was so true to him that I almost felt like an impostor standing in front of the pieces, like I was walking around his diary. I became envious of the artist's ability to express oneself in a way that words might always fall short, their capacity to make a painting that could say everything to its maker and so little to its viewer. Duncan recently contributed to a show titled Striving with the Divine, and above his work he quotes the Hindu Vision which says, "The primary purpose of religious or artistic endeavor is to refine and develop the mind's ability to perceive the subtle depths of life."
Subtle Depth - it's how I would describe Duncan. He is Greek Orthodox so he provides a very different approach to and perspective on Christianity. I asked him to teach me some things and he gave me a list. I was given six books, an Orthodox prayer book for guidance, was encouraged to attend an Orthodox service and to spend some time at art museums. I think I'll learn about embracing and understanding God through the visual and abstract part of my mind. I think I'll learn about more traditional approaches to worship and prayer. Maybe I'll discover that I'm a painting prodigy and I never knew it. Hopefully some of these very old and humble approaches to God will make things a little more clear and I'll find a little more peace in my faith.