CBS This Morning aired a segment featuring artist Chuck Close, in which they asked him to imagine writing a letter to his younger self with helpful advice. The piece is making the rounds in social media because of its inspirational content. Indeed, his words offer good perspective for the new year.
Close decided to address his 14-year-old self. “Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don’t apply to you,” he says in the “Note to Self” segment, which is on view here. “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Close is known for his very large paintings that, close up, look like variously colored squiggles or circles or squares, but from a distance create a realistic rendition of a face. It mimics the printing process to some extent. Close suffers from face blindness. He has said that painting portraits is one way he overcomes this affliction, because it helps him remember visages. Given this, it’s not surprising to hear Close say, “If you are overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into many bite-sized pieces.”
Close is shown working on a large portrait of Philip Glass in the segment
In 1988 an artery collapsed in his spine and left him paralyzed. Close found workarounds so he could keep painting. His story is a good one. One last gem, and then we urge you to simply watch the piece: “Quadriplegics don’t envy the able-bodied. We envy paraplegics. We think they’ve got a much easier row to hoe.”