I remember on one of the metal book racks, in the magazine section, there was an oversized paperback book on how to draw cartoons. It had a Bugs Bunny like character and a cartoon bulldog on the cover. My mother bought it for me and thus my art education began. It was written by a golden age character animator named Preston Blair. He worked for Disney where he was an animator on movies such as Bambi. He also worked for Tex Avery at MGM. He was best known for drawing the sexy Red Hot Riding Hood character especially the famous dance scene she did. I learned how cartoons were made and I spent countless hours drawing ovals and circles that became dogs and rabbits and funny little things.
When college came I went to art school and did more drawing and painting. I got hired at the age of nineteen to work on a half a million-dollar computer doing digital retouching and artwork for magazine and billboard ads. So I worked and continued to paint. Time past and I worked and continued to paint. As an artist, I improved, but I have to say looking back there was something missing. Inspiration is a funny thing. It can lead to different roads. Sometimes it leads you down multiple roads or too many roads. You don’t notice it until you look back and see how wavy and curvy it is and you realize it isn’t going anywhere. Just simply follow the road ahead.
I believe my road straightened out when a sense of purpose was giving not just to my art but to my life in general. It was the day the twins came into my life and more specifically the first month of Georgia’s stay at the hospital while treating her cancer. During her first month of, “Induction,” she liked riding around the hospital halls in her little blue and red push car. I would push the car with one hand and hold onto her pump which was connected to her port in her chest with the other hand. I would do pop wheelies and screech as we turned the corners. The twins were turning two at the time and were just learning to talk. On the walls were pictures of animals and flowers and bugs. I would lift her and her sister Rayne up and tell each of them what the animal was and what colors were in the pictures. Maybe it is a strange place to get inspired to do art, but that is what happened to me. There are all kinds of inspirational things happening in a place like this. You see how strong the kids are as they are going through a terrible time in their lives and how they trooper through it. You see the doctors, nurses and, techs heroically doing whatever needs to be done to save these kid’s lives. You meet other parents and you have a common bond with them. This is the kind of place where art comes from. It has placed me on a new track and I hope my art will do justice to it.
YOU CAN SEE
Written by: Raymond (Duke) Thornton III, my father
Is the sky still up above
And is it still blue
I can feel the grass below my feet
Is it still green to you
I can feel the warmth of the summer sun
But cannot see its golden glow
I can feel the chill of the winter cold
But cannot see the pure white snow
I can hear the birds singing
And I remember how they soar
Through the air on colorful wings
I remember, because I can’t see anymore
Isn’t there beauty all around us
Surely this must be
But, aren’t beautiful things ugly
When you cannot see