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An Artist's Dream: Oil Paint, Heirloom Tomatoes And A Turtle Pond

Updated on March 4, 2017

Many Artists Long For Fame And Fortune, I'd Be Happy With A Better Place To Paint And Grow Tomatoes

From the Oil Painting: Dancing With Black-Eyed Susan by artist Ben Zoltak
From the Oil Painting: Dancing With Black-Eyed Susan by artist Ben Zoltak

For My Creative Spirit And For My Family Who Knows All This Anyway

Most of my early life, when I told people I was an artist, they generally sneered and scoffed at the notion. "You'll never be famous. You'll never make it." Were the two most common replies to my bold declaration. When you're a young artist, those words hit you pretty hard. It's like David Bowie sang, "These children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, their quite aware what they're going through."

Then I survived the mistakes of my youth and found myself here, in this middle aged body with the mind of a newborn and the spirit of a furious Clemmys Insculpta clambering through the woods of this life. The more time passes between me and my mind, the more art I make, the more words I type, I realize how thankful I am for the life I have lived and the great people I have known. I live in a world full of inspiration from the raging red clouds of nearly every sunrise to the creatives I have met as if in a whirlwind of time. My dream of succeeding as an artist and writer doesn't require visions of a New York City Chelsey rockstar artist gallery opening. I don't need Julian Schnabel museum recognition. Sure I would take that route, but only if it would bring me to this simpler dream I have.

In my artist's dream I own a plot of land, at least five acres. But this is a dream so why not five hundred? At least five acres with a great old Folk, Farm or Victorian style home. The kind with floors made of wood, with old crown molding in the rooms. Maybe there will be a wine cellar or a pantry. Perhaps it will have a green enamel tin roof. Outside there will be at least one outbuilding for my studio. It could be a barn or a stone shelter just preferably worn with a rich patina of time. There will be a fireplace both in the studio and the home. There will be good ventilation for all the turpentine and somehow, a way to keep the studio warm! The studio will have a few windows overlooking a lake or pond that is either on the land, or was built by me and a summer engagement to a backhoe and some dynamite! The pond will be stocked with fish, perch, sunfish, walleye and bass. The Clemmys Insculpta will be living there, wood turtles finding refuge alongside of me.

The studio will have a table saw and a place to show some of my latest paintings respectably. I will have an organized tool wall, I will have a drawing table set near one of the windows. I will have a dedicated area for my brushes, maybe a glass case for my good sables. I will have wooden shelves full of tubes of the great kinds of oil paint: Cadmiums! Vermilions! Cobalts and Ceruleans! I will have a steel container to trap all my reactive chemicals to recycle or reuse on other art. I will have two easels set up at all times. In another half of the studio, out of eye-shot of my paintings, I will have my writing studio. Legal pads, a printer that prints great images, a laptop ready to go outdoors at any moment.

Another Artist's Dream... Thank You Ray Lynch For Another Deep Breakfast

An Artist's Dream Is For A Vital Path With Room To Grow

Just outside the studio somewhere between the little prairie and woods next to my carved body of water, I would have a large garden. Here my family and I would grow heirloom tomatoes among other things. Mortgage busters they call them! Some of them come in different shades some in different flavors, some of the heirloom tomatoes look almost as though they have tiger stripes. I tasted one once, recently picked from the vine. It tasted as if something out of a Lewis Carroll novel. Anyone who knows me knows I'm rarely nonplussed! But eat a freshly picked heirloom tomato and you will see what I'm talking about. The Great Spirit and human beings worked for many thousands of years to create such a great piece of edible art. In the garden we will grow basil, and chili, jalepeno and habenero peppers. We will grow red lettuce, mustard greens, garlic, okra and chive onions. We will trade and share these with family and neighbors. It will become our goal to try to grow more and more of the food we eat every year.

In the house my wife and I will have a bedroom larger than any we've ever had. The kind that's big enough that you don't have to turn sideways to get in between the dresser and the bed. My wife will have her own claw foot bathtub! I will construct for her copious shelves to stock the many potions and powders that women use for their rituals! My wife and I will design our kitchen keeping as much of the original as possible while including some of the spoils of modernity such as a dishwasher and microwave. We will have a window in the kitchen that over looks a bird feeder outside. My daughter will have the room she's talked about for all these years. Not a rented room like we've lived through for the past thirteen years, but a room she really owns. She will paint it some day glow color that will remind me of a fishing lure and that when I mention the fact to her she will get mad but then we will both have a good laugh at our tempers. She too will have lots of shelves, and I will build for her the library she asked for. Our family will have a greater library too. Not an ostentatious monster of course, just a few shelves with books ready for any one needing syllabic comfort.

Outside there will be a wood burning sauna, so that when my brothers come to visit we can stoke our skins in the oven then go jump in the snow. There will be a guest room outbuilding too for my sister and nieces and nephews to visit too. We can stay up around a bon fire and cook s'mores and listen for coyote and mountain lion.

My life will be a balancing act between my writing, painting and caring for my family. We will dig our hands in the dirt together, creating sustenance of nutrients of vegetables and spirit. We will see the red tailed hawk rest in our oldest oak tree. We will plant giant Redwoods on our property both for bragging rights and for the sheer awe of stewarding the worlds tallest trees.

I'm not asking for perfection in my artist's dream, I am only asking for a vital path in life with room to grow.

From Lewis Carrolls "Through The Looking Glass"

Alice laughed, "There's no use trying," she said, "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

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    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Arthur, I will be looking into Dark Kwapaw shortly! I like to think my goals are more humble than some, but with real estate prices being what they are, I know the rewards I try to gain in life are a bit more costly. Everything seems to be redeemed through art though, no matter what my situation. As you said, art really "can be so many things to so many people."

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 

      8 years ago

      Like the painting at the top, Ben. It really communicates the shift of consciousness an everyday event can stimulate, the existential power of a flower. Or maybe it's the evil indian spirit Dark Kwapaw preparing to destroy an SUV. That's the beauty of art; it can be so many things to so many people.

      Anyway, very charming dream you got there, Ben. You write so evocatively, each word like a brush stroke; I almost feel I'm there. And I'm kinda creeping your family out, because they have no idea who I am, right? But seriously, I enjoyed reading that.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      YU_First1: Thank you for the recognition! I keep trying, I hope you do too....

    • YU_First 1 profile image

      YU_First 1 

      8 years ago from Uganda

      The images are so well written out! I can almost touch your dreams for you and i think you will indeed touch them yourself...

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Laura! Say it ain't so! Oh well, I know how that can be, sometimes in life ideals don't live up to their expectations. I hope you at least had a good run! Thanks for the compliment on my painting!

      Mike: Thanks for sharing your reflections. I understand what you are saying about being closer and farther away from our visions, glad I can inspire, as you often inspire me as well bud. Thanks a lot for the warm compliment.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Ben, this was so well written, and it made me take a look at my own life. I am simultaneously closer to my dreams and further than I have ever been--the future is a mystery. Like you, I have a vision of a life with the freedom to create, to grow, and live in peace. I ain't there yet, but I'm still trying. Your words inspire me to keep going, and perhaps to try a little harder.

      Thanks, my friend. This was a wonderful post.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 

      8 years ago from Central Texas


      I love your use of color to create the movement of your painting! Lovely work, to say the least. I had a place similar to your dream that was mine as well, but unfortunately it turned into a nightmare... Ah well, time to dream another dream!

      Laura T

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Aw thanks GL! I hope to get their someday!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I love your colorful (of course). And I had to pause at the reference of my 2 favorite tunes by Bowie and Lynch. Thanks!

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you so much for taking a walk through this dream of mine, it means more when you share it with kind people like yourself MB!!!

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 

      8 years ago from Maine

      Believing six impossible things before breakfast, now that's a goal to have. I like that!!

      Nice hub, I like the image of the rooms and especially the claw foot tub.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      barrliam: I agree, making your passion if the priority, all the rest of the details are just that.

      hellohello: We do. Thank you for walking with me through mine!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Don't we al have our dreams? Thank you for an enjoyable read.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Just to be able to do your passion is what matters, Id love to be able to have thw space to do more graphic design and photography.


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