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Today is a Great Day to be Amazing

by Jack White on 11/30/2011 9:08:51 AM

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
Order on or and type in the Coupon Code.


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Topics: advice for artists | art collectors | FineArtViews | inspiration | Jack White 

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Jana Parkes
Very beautiful and touching, Jack. thanks for sharing your heart with us! and thanks for the reminder.
blessings, Jana

Donald Fox
This is a very elegant and moving post. My wife and I have been together for nearly thirty years. We express our love every day. We also have a wide circle of loving friends and express our gratitude for each one of them. All of this loving energy has a powerful influence on my artwork and everything I do and we do. Your post touches on the core of human experience in a beautiful way. Thank you.

Lynne P Alexander Hollingsworth
thank you Jack White and amen! Everyone needs a reminder of what is so important to life that it IS life itself---love, expressed, lived and felt.

Paul Breddels
Beautiful post. Thanks for that, Jack

Awesome Post.... : )

Marilyn King
Bravo, Jack. Thanks for reminding us to express the love we feel for the benefit of those we love. We never can do that enough!

Jackie Davidson
I always enjoy reading your articles...and today's is no exception. Thanks for sharing little bits of your and Mikki's life with us...and for sharing your faith.


Jackie Davidson
I always enjoy reading your articles...and today's is no exception. Thanks for sharing little bits of your and Mikki's life with us...and for sharing your faith.


Jackie Davidson
I always enjoy reading your articles...and today's is no exception. Thanks for sharing little bits of your and Mikki's life with us...and for sharing your faith.


George De Chiara
Great post Jack! Very touching and a great reminder to tell our loved ones how we feel.

Kathy Mann

One of my art heroes died a couple days ago...a gifted artist who spent his life working to provide for his family and did his art on the side but still took time to inspire and teach others. He never realized how amazingly talented he was as an artist or how his giggle brought sunshine to a room. He was in his nineties and continued to paint until a couple years ago. I wish I had taken time these past weeks to visit him...Spent time this morning with one of his contemporaries and another hero of mine who at ninety-seven was still organizing our plain air taking a bit of a hiatus now...but already planning for next summer's expeditions!!

Thank you for the reminder to express our love and gratitude to the treasures in our lives and bring joy to those around us. It pulls down those old voices of rejection and loneliness from years ago and allows the Lord to enrich their lives and ours!


Debra Snyder Heard
Wonderful article to remind us what is most important in our lives. Time goes by so fast that things like this need not be put off!

Off subject- I order your book “Mystery of Making It” to be delivered by mail, because it was not available on kindle. I did press the button to tell the author that I would like it in kindle edition, but I have an idea that information never gets to you.

Diana Moses Botkin
Thank you for the excellent reminder, Jack, and your good example. I love your straight shooting, and you and Mikki. Wishing you both the Lord's best blessings, especially at this Christmas season.

Crystal Rassi
God is Amazing. Everyday someone can learn this valuable truth. Sometimes we need reminding. A stranger emailed me because she saw one of my paintings in her church and shared her touching story with me. Here's the post you can read that will tell you all about it and the painting she had connected with. Amazing!

Jo Allebach
Jack, thank you.

Casey Craig
Wonderful post Jack!
We should never underestimate the power of a few simple words shared with those we love.
Thank you for sharing this.

Toni Grote
Thank you for your post Jack, it really touched me, a great read to start the day. Love is so powerful but we generally seem shy to express it. Thanks for being brave and sharing your stories, they do make a positive difference!

I had to read this one twice, since the first time I wept too hard. I painted today, and still got negative comments from a family member. I will keep on painting, and saying I love you,smiling, and trusting God that he is smiling on my efforts to paint. I waited over 35 years to pick up paint brushes because no one took my drawing serious, and there was no money in those days for paint or brushes! I came back inside after hours of painting in my patio/studio, feeling almost hopeless as an artist-again,and re-read your article.Thank you. God bless you for blessing me today!

Teresa Tromp
Amen, Jack

God Bless you! (and Mikki)

Kathy Chin

Blessings on you for your thoughtfulness and total sharing. We all appreciate you!


We are all glad that are part of our FASO Family. I looked on your website and don't understand why you would get so much negativity from your "other" family members. I particularly like "Rush Hour," "Yokohama," and "3's a crowd" really touched me. As Jack would tell you, believe in yourself, by all means stick with your art and continue to express the joy in your heart!!!

Leon and Peggy
Jack, we love and appreciate you!!!!

Donna Robillard
There is nothing that compares with the human touch.

Donna Robillard
There is nothing that compares with the human touch.

Well put. I agree that each of us can make a marked difference in this world by how we interact with those around us. We can make the world a better place for sure.


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