This post is by Jack White, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Jack has enjoyed a forty-one year career as a successful fulltime artist and author. He has written for Professional Artist Magazine for 14 years and has six art marketing books published. In 1976 Jack was named the Official Artist of Texas. He has mentored hundreds of artists around the world. Jack authored six Art Marketing books. The first, “Mystery of Making It”, describes how he taught Mikki to paint and has sold over six million dollars worth of her art. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Charles had been out of medical school less than two months when he met his greatest lifetime challenge. Young Assistant Surgeon Charles Leale and his wife Rebecca were sitting in the theatre enjoying the garrulously funny, Our American Cousin, on Good Friday April 14, 1865. Suddenly an actor, dressed in black, vaulted from the balcony onto the stage. At first the audience thought his actions were part of the play, but quickly realized they were not. The leaping actor caught his foot in the red, white and blue bunting along the balcony and landed awkwardly, breaking his leg in the fall. His adrenalin was too high for him to remain down. He surged to rise, then stood facing the stunned audience. The disheveled man had an insane look, flashing a large, bloody knife back and forth. His athletic frame tensed with fear as animal wildness filled his eyes. Harry Hawk, an actor in the play onstage, was startled as he recognized the intruder. In his best theatrical voice, John Wilkes Booth pronounced, “The South will rise again!” With those words he vanished into the darkness behind the stage curtain.
A voice rang out from the balcony, “The president has been shot.” The shocked crowd froze in their seats. One man knew what he must do. Twenty-three year old Leale sprung to his feet. Without saying a word to his wife he ran, lunged up the stairs in giant strides and burst into the private balcony. Charles shouted, “I’m a doctor,” as he pushed through the jumble of people in the small gallery. Slumped over in a rocking chair, as if he were sleeping, was a giant man. A guest in the balcony was bleeding from his right arm - the wound sustained from a swift slash by the killer’s knife as he jumped over the railing and onto the stage. Doctor Leale glanced at the man’s wound and seeing no artery was damaged, he turned to the crumpled figure.
Hastily Doctor Leale stripped the victim’s body of his coat and shirt. There were no cuts on the big man. There was no visible blood. Did the giant have a heart attack? Then by instinct, having learned his practice on those wounded during the brutal Civil War, he rubbed the man’s head. The thick black hair was soaked in murky red blood. He knew at that moment his President was mortally wounded. His heart sank. With his little finger, he opened the hole so the blood could drain, preventing swelling of the brain.
His amazing day came and he would be remembered in history books as long as the world survived. He was the one who gave immediate medical attention to President Abraham Lincoln. Later, older and more experienced doctors would confirm his actions were brilliant. Had the wound been treatable, Charles Leale would have saved the president’s life.
I decided to take Mikki to the 2001 Heisman Trophy award dinner in New York City. We wanted to visit the site of the destroyed Twin Towers. We had been in the towers just two years earlier. For those of you not into sports, the Heisman dinner is where the best college football player is honored each year. At the social event before the dinner, I was able to introduce Mikki to Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Barry Switzer, one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. We also met with Roger Staubach, a former quarterback of the Cowboys. In conversation, Roger and I began talking about coach Tom Landry. Roger told me, “Jack, I feel like Tom is still calling the plays in my life.”
A few months later the Fellowship of Christian Athletes contacted me to paint a life size posthumous portrait of coach Landry for their headquarters in Kansas City. Since Tom was deceased, I knew that a sideline portrait would not be appropriate. My goal was to make it seem as if he was levitating, without it looking staged. I just knew the Cowboys would have tons of great photos so I’d have good reference material to work from. I phoned Rich Dalrymple, the Director of Public Relations for the Cowboys, asking for a favor. After much searching, he only could come up with one good black and white headshot of the coach. I could hardly believe they didn’t have any usable pictures of the coach. Tom was a friend of mine so I knew we were about the same height and body size. I had Mikki take a bunch of photos of me in a herringbone tweed jacket similar to one Tom wore. I planned to paint Coach Landry holding a play sheet in one hand. The only problem was his were bigger than mine. So Coach Grant Teaff let me photograph his hand, which was the right size and Danny White, another ex-Cowboy quarterback, gave me an actual play sheet to work from. Danny is a friend, but we are not related.
Mrs. Landry, who I also knew, was at the unveiling. She looked at the painting and told me, “Jack, he looks like he could walk out of that frame.” Then she paused, “I see you put his wedding band on. If you hadn’t, I’d have made you do it.”
I passed the biggest and most important test. Alicia Landry loved the portrait and she was the only one who mattered.
As we were about to leave, I noticed two ex-NFL players closely examining the play sheet in Tom’s hand. I could hear them mumbling back and forth. It was clear they understood the play sheet. My chest pushed out with pride, which I think is okay when you have done a job well.
Then I felt a tug on my arm, it was Mrs. Landry. She had tears in her eyes. It took her a moment to become composed enough to speak, “Jack, you knew Tom and what a caring man he is. He never missed a day without saying how much he loved and appreciated me.”
I choked up, giving her a big hug. She is such a tiny lady, perhaps 5’-2”. I remained speechless feeling her warm tears on my shirt. I ruminated over an over. She said what a great man he IS. To her Tom was not dead, but just waiting for her in another room. I talk about my Christian faith, but Alicia lives it. She sees Tom on the other side ready to say, “Alicia, I love you,” when she enters heaven.
These examples are capsules of life. That day, I learned something very important: To be amazing we don’t have to make a grand portrait or try and save Abraham Lincoln. Tom Landry was amazing every day, because he knew how to express love. As Mikki and I were returning home, we talked about what it meant to be amazing. It’s pretty simple to be absolutely amazing, just tell those who matter I LOVE YOU! We don’t have to reach some level of greatness to be amazing. In truth, everyone reading this article has the power to be amazing every day. You can be very special to someone in your life.
Up until that day with Mrs. Landry, I thought to be amazing I had to be part Superman and the rest Captain Marvel. I thought we needed super powers and excel beyond every other person in our field. Deep down I knew that would never happen. I knew other artists with skills superior to mine, other writers who never make my glaring mistakes. Alicia gave me the key. All of us can be amazing each and every day by simply expressing to those we care about, how we feel.
My best friend, Senior Texas Ranger Captain Bill Wilson, was dying of cancer. When the news reached me, I drove from California to give him a hug before he died. I looked in his once powerful face and said, “Bill, I can’t let you go without telling you how much you mean to me. You are the brother I never had. From the deep of my heart I want you to know I love you.” Then I told him, “Christ also loves you.”
Bill had been 6’-4”, 220 lbs and the bravest man I’ve ever known. He was down to about 165 lbs and his body slumped. My words stunned him. He looked back at me as if no one had ever told him I love you. I get the feeling his wife, Juanita, never used those words. I had visited in their home dozens of times and knew she only wanted to fuss.
I often wonder if Abe told Mary he loved her during the chilling months of the bloodiest war in the history of the United States. We saw over 620,000 men die in the Civil War. There is not any question about his affection for her. But did he whisper, in the silence of the night, “Mary, I love you.”
Every since the portrait unveiling in Kansas City we make sure to tell each other, “I Love YOU” before we fall asleep. When our friends call, I have a habit of expressing our love for them. Naturally they are shocked. Men tend not to use I love you except in a moment of passion.
What does all this tear-eyed, mushy stuff have to do with art? More than you think. Most artists are either married or in a relationship. Or have been married and looking for a mate. Human beings, by nature, are meant to mate. Either gay or straight, it’s important we have significant others in our lives. No matter how confident we are, all of us can use support from those we love.
I’m reminded of the old rancher having ‘supper’ with his wife on their 40th wedding anniversary. She asked, “Hank, you never tell me you love me.”
He looked puzzled and then gruffed back, “I did that 40 years ago. You know I don’t like to repeat myself.”
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our art and career we fail to give attention to the most important things in our lives. Friends and family are more important than meeting an art deadline. If you ignore your family and friends because of a deadline, you didn’t plan your time well. You knew of the deadline long before you started rushing to be on time. In school, we know there will be tests and finals. I remember people who waited until the night before the big test to study. I was such a poor student I had to cram everyday just to pass. Everyone knows Christmas is December 25th. It always has been, yet we all know people who wait until 10 PM on the 24th to buy their gifts. Don’t wait until you are on your deathbed to say I LOVE YOU.
If you know your husband loves peach cobbler, then bake one from time to time. I know Mikki loves key lime pie so once a month I make sure we eat at Red Lobster, because she likes their's the best. On my dialysis diet, I can’t eat sweets. The key lime pie is just for her.
You can be amazing to those in your circle simply by telling them how much they mean to you. Will this help your career? You can bet the house on it. The good vibes will make you feel better and your art will soar. I understand if you have not grown up in a family that expressed love, learning to will be a task. I know. I never had a family member ever tell me they were proud or loved me. Perhaps that is why I’m so overly loving. I know the pain of rejection. I also know the joy of expressing love to those we care about.
From now on take time to be amazing, tell those who matter, I LOVE YOU. In the scriptures eight is the number of new beginnings. There are eight letters in I LOVE YOU. Seven is perfection, five grace, three the resurrection, two division. On the second day the earth was divided. Number one is unity. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are ONE! Today is a good time to start the amazing program.
One acorn can create a forest, one smile can establish a friendship, one touch can show you care and one friend can make life worth living. I can’t close without saying “much obliged” to those of you who take your precious time to read what I write and to FASO for adding me to the team.
Lulu is giving a 25% savings on all Jack White art marketing books until December 14. Use Coupon Code: BUYMYBOOK305