21. Celebrating Our Art Heroes

Dear Sade,

The great artist Paul Cezanne captured my imagination with his still-lifes of apples, painted so masterfully that you could almost smell the fruit. Wassily Kandinsky and I had some great conversations through the medium of his books. Paul Gauguin held me spellbound with his rich vibrant colours and Willem de Kooning gave me new eyes.

They were my Art Heroes. I snatched up every book on these artists that I could afford, and some I couldn't. I loved their work so much that I was determined to paint just like them - a sort of Cezanne-Kandinsky-Gauguin-de Kooning quiche is how you could have described my paintings at one stage. They were about as inspiring as a three day old scone. But I persevered and eventually I reached a point of departure coming to the realization that I wanted to paint like Neville Hickman, no-one else. I struggled, yes, for an artist can't plan his own style, he has to grow into it and time will not be dictated to. Now I look back on my 'Art Hero' days with fondness - I was priviledged to work with four great artists in spirit, artists who gave me something to aspire to, something real. For a time they provided a place of refuge and safety as I worked with them in the art bubble in my mind.

Sade, be grateful to those who help you along the way to true self-expression and be liberal with advice to those who seek it from you. It is only insecure artists who hold back when they are asked for assistance or information. What you sow you will reap. You can count on it.

Creatively yours