Painting is in general a very satisfying experience. Painting, like playing music or writing, is driven by emotions. An artist can express feelings of serenity, peace, excitement, sadness, and more. Those are the emotions that inspire the artist to create. In turn, a well created piece will transmit the artist’s feelings or emotions to the viewer, the listener, or the reader.
Over the years, I have had many generous people give me nice and kind feedback about my paintings. Some even acquired a piece. It is of course a nice feeling when someone likes a painting and tells you about it. It is a warm and special feeling when a stranger buys a painting and tells you that she is going to hang it in her bedroom or at that important spot in his living room.
However, one of the most moving and rewarding experiences I have had in showing my paintings, came from someone who I never met and who never bought any of my paintings.
I have exhibited my paintings at several hospitals and health care facilities in New England. A few years ago, I participated in a very large art show at one of the major hospitals in Boston, MA. The location of the exhibit within the hospital was a cancer center, and the pieces were mostly displayed in various waiting rooms and common areas. The cancer patients would no doubt have time to see the paintings while waiting to see a doctor or have treatment.
One day, while some of my paintings were on show at that hospital, I got an email from one of the patients at the cancer center. He had visited the hospital many times during the course of his treatment. In his email, he was thanking me for the paintings that hung in the waiting room. He did not give any details about his disease but said that the pieces in the wall made him feel better.
It was a short but very moving email. There was no mention of an intention to buy a piece, just gratitude for being able to see the paintings while waiting. There was a phone number below his signature. Moved by the idea of thanking him—and also in part by curiosity—I decided to call him.
Our conversation lasted no more than two minutes. I introduced myself as the artist that had the paintings on show at the hospital. He told me how the paintings distracted him from his worries and allowed him to fly briefly and pleasantly away from the waiting room. He told me how his anxiety in waiting decreased as he wandered into my images. I wanted to say many more things, but I couldn’t. I thanked him for his email and nice comments. And—without ever asking about his sickness—I wished him a prompt recovery. We never spoke again.
The memory of that patient is one of the most important and rewarding ones I have through my many years showing paintings in public. This experience has often made me wonder about the power of art—in all its manifestations—to inspire, cure, and heal us humans. §
Ricardo Maldonado enjoys painting and experimenting with color. To Ricardo, painting is a search and a discipline. Painting has taught him to see things in a different way, observing every detail more carefully and more consciously, distinguishing colors and shapes, and ultimately appreciating more deeply what he sees.