Bill's love for art started through his early training from several of his amazing public school teachers he had throughout his early life. He learned basic elements of art and from that his ability and love grew. While trying to pursue his passion for drawing, Fletcher both studied and worked in Toxicology. In 1996, he furthered his talents by starting to paint in oils, studying with local artists, and attending workshops.
LAL (Lexington Art League): Toxicology and art don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. When did you start making the transition from chemistry over to art? What inspired this transition?
BF (Bill Fletcher): About 2/3rds of my way through graduate school (working towards a Ph. D in Toxicology) I became disenchanted with science as a career for myself. I could do it, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I did not relish the idea of spending my life on a path like that. I noticed that a small percentage of people in my field excelled because they loved what they did, so I decided to find a path on which I might find excellence through passion inspired motivation.
LAL: Why did you choose this piece to be featured in Here and Now?
BF: A painting like this best reflects who I am; a hiker, an advocate for the spiritual value Nature, and a person with great reverence for the land. My highest hope is that my best art might inspire a sense of reverence for and connection to Nature in others.
LAL: What inspired you to create this particular piece?
BF: Good art evokes an emotional response in the viewer. If an artist paints what they sincerely care about, I believe it has a better chance of evoking an emotional response in a viewer. That’s why I almost always paint “what speaks to me” and the Red River Gorge in Autumn is one of Kentucky’s most amazing “crown jewels”.
LAL: How do you find a good balance between discipline and passion in your work?
BF: They don’t seem so separate to me. To be productive, to improve, and to be successful as an artist I have no choice but to impose a certain amount of intentional structure on my process: my study, exercises, productivity goals, etc. Yet at the same time I understand that I am most successful when I give myself time to follow inspiration and experiment in the right measure. Quoting Kahlil Gibran… “reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.” So I understand that passion and discipline are not mutually exclusive and are in fact “symbiotic”. My work, my passion, and my discipline are all really just parts of the same thing to me.
LAL: What advice would you give to new artists?
- Learn to love drawing 20 to 30 minutes every day for the rest of your life.
- Paint 300 paintings a year
- Start a painting in case something good might happen
- Look at great art that inspires you as much as you can
- Find a community of the best artists you can to paint with, share ideas, and help each other forward.
- Let go of ego; don’t compete with others, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to how you painted two years ago.
- Don’t let the world tell you what you care about.
- Paint what you love. Become really good at it.
- Be ok with where you’re at now— where else could you be?
- Also know that if you consistently do the things that help make you better, then over time improvement is inevitable. Then, where you are at right now is connected to an entire body of progress. So let go motivation through dissatisfaction, and embrace taking joy in creating, in nurturing sensitivity to beauty, and in the process of pursuing your own personal excellence.