William K. Stidham
I came to painting late in life – age 35 – After a failed attempt of getting my contemporary fiction novel published. Quite an arduous 5 year history in my life that taught me a lot about myself. Primarily the need to be creative. To express. It started with a cheap watercolor kit I bought at Walgreen’s. I became obsessed with painting. Primarily to release, or make sense of all the things that were stirring inside of me.
The beauty of watercolor is it’s subtlety. It’s alchemical relationship with water. All the hidden opportunities to draw out and rely on its symbolic properties. In other words, once watercolor paint is down on paper… it is done. Finished. No covering up the warts that become inspired mistakes. You can do a watercolor in a day. It took me 3 years to write my novel.
The paintings progressed with the work put in. Of course, I had a full time job… but I would spend nights working on the paintings. And they started to get better. The first breakthrough was the Women Visions Series. A collection of beautiful interpretations of the feminine.
By this time I’m 40. And really nothing in my life was making much sense. Nothing was really working. I was making no progress commercially. Hell, I didn’t even know where to begin. I wanted to quit painting. I wanted to quit everything. Life.
I’d been doing a tremendous amount of spiritual work trying to figure out my purpose. Not always the least painful process. Because of my apathy, I was literally trying to destroy painting with wine, coffee, bourbon, water… and try to bring them back to life. My own personal Lazarus project. Quite a reflection of my inner life… But life can change with one painting.
I had been thoroughly convinced to paint Willie Nelson by a dear friend. I was reluctant to say the least. Willie did stir inside me though quite strongly. His music was the ultimate foundation for my family. The soundtrack of my life growing up being a Texan and all.
I decided to approach the painting with 3 colors: Black, Red, Gold, and use the negative white space. I was also going to incorporate the pouring of the metallic gold gauche infused water on top of the painting. A baptism if you will…
In the process of painting Willie I decided to place a Sacred Heart to represent Willie’s impact on the world. At the point where I pour the water it becomes a high wire act. I’m taking a perfectly good painting, and tempting the power of the universe, fate, chance when I pour the water on top. I did. Super anxious as the painting was flooded in front of me. Out of my skin. I blow dried the water off the painting, felt like I was outside my body, and peered at the painting that changed my life. A gift.
The Sacred Heart Series became my first signature collection. I explain it like this… Music is the emotional mile marker for our lives. You put on a song, and it has the power to take you back to particular time and place. I wanted to express the divinity locked in each and everyone of us. Are own divine nature. Our gifts that we are here to share. Our own divine spark. Of course, none of us are without the faults and flaws that make us human… The paintings are really celebrating the impact and potential that people bring forward that changes life and perspective.
The Sacred Heart Series gave me a life. The one I had been searching for my entire existence. I quite my job and hit the road selling art. To this day May 10th 2021 I have done over 100 Music Festivals, including shows Austin City Limits, Summerfest, Sonic Temple, Bonarroo, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands to name a few.
In the middle of all this… I got married, had my first child at age 49, built a house in and moved from Austin, Tx. to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico… and started a life in a foreign country. There are advantages to change. It forces you to dig a little deeper, adapt, try new things that helps you grow not only as an artist, but as a man. The change in scenery, light, life had an impact on my creativity. The Mexican culture certainly influenced me and can be seen in my Cantina Vida Series, La Catrinas (Day of the Dead Paintings) in my Women Visions category, and the Mystical Mariachi‘s dreamscapes that reflect the streets of San Miguel de Allende. These are in the Cantina Vida Category.
As an artist you always have the itch to try new things. I’m certainly pleased with what has come out of my Pop Heart Series. A broad collection of pop inspired art.
Which leads to me what a pandemic can do to your life… Covid forced me to once again look deeply inwards. I had no choice. I couldn’t go anywhere. Out of this chaos came the Life Force Series. It really started because I felt the urge to add more color to my life. Prospects looked a little bleak in the beginning. I’m using familiar themes… the things I have become known for… but instead of doing straight forward portraits, I am focusing on the raw energy and expression that made the people who and what they are. People who channeled their life energy into expressions that move us. Mark our lives. Make them better. More memorable. Colorful.
My purpose and path seem to be challenging myself at all times. With my paintings I try to encourage, remind people that we all have our purpose in this life, in this time we live in. We all leave a mark. It’s our choice to decide how to do that in the best way with the least amount of collateral damage. Live your Life Force! Share your Sacred Heart.