creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Man of Many Colors - meet Bill Thierfelder

Photo by CLIFF SATRIANO, "Photo Stories, New York"
This week I continue profiling artist friends with a man whose philosophy and approach to life I admire as a fine example of a Jack of All Trades/Renaissance Man. His passion for contributing to the social good while pursuing a wide spectrum of interests sets a wonderful example for others, so I’m pleased to introduce Bill Thierfelder of Long Island, New York. This week some of Bill’s artwork will be featured at The Gallery at 40 South in Patchogue, NY - opening this Saturday, April 16. 

Bill has a long list of credits, but when I first met him I knew him more as the Professor of English at Dowling College and as a friend of a friend of a friend! Since that time I’ve discovered his many talents and gathered a respect for his philosophy and approach towards life, which finds it equally important to enjoy his artistic pursuits while giving back to the well-being of the community. He does this while maintaining a zest and curiosity for life. Over the years I’ve enjoyed gazing upon his colorful artistic pursuits, read some of his clever science fiction novels, heard him give well-researched lectures on historical figures, and cheered him on as he’s raised money and awareness for local organizations. Bill has continued to utilize his experience in new ways and continually develop himself through time, a key element for all Renaissance Men to embrace.

"Opus 5B" by Bill Thierfelder - January 2011
I put forth a few questions for Bill to answer to give a greater glimpse into this knowledgeable and well-rounded man:

1. How do you describe yourself as an artist?
Eclectic. Art, writing, and motivational speaking form the core of who I am as an artist--with occasional forays into music composition. These are the ways I “speak” to the world around me. (I also listen that way, too. Exploring art, reading, attending lectures, and listening to music all fill up the spiritual well.)

2. What are the main genres you explore as a Jack of All Trades?
Writing, Drawing, and Motivational Speaking.

3. What is your favorite medium to work and why?
In my writing, I love to experiment with narrative possibilities and multiple perspectives--viewing the same set of characters or incidents from multiple angles. Why? Because I feel connected to the idea of perceiving things in multifaceted ways. All this rooted in my study of phenomenology and existentialism. In my art, I enjoy using some of the basic “childhood” tools--crayons, markers, ink pens, and colored pencils. Art was one of my first loves and I continue to use the media I used back then.

4.  How do you organize your time to complete work? Any trade secrets to successfully being a Jack of All Trades?
I work on something when it feels right. Sometimes that’s in the morning, but most times it’s afternoons or evenings. When I create, I need to step away frequently and do other things and then come back, so I might end up working on a lecture for a library, a piece of art, and a short story all on the same day, switching off from one to the other with other things in between. So I guess you could say that I work in “sound bites” of fifteen minutes up to an hour or so before I switch off to something else. Fortunately, I switch gears easily because even though I may stop working on a drawing to head off to work on a story, the piece of art is still percolating in my head. Maybe a good comparison or metaphor might be choral singing. The complete work is really made up of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses working together to create harmony. So art might be the sopranos, writing the altos, lecturing the tenors, and my other creative “stuff” (like cooking and gardening) the basses. I am the “complete work.” When you ask who I am, I’m those four separate voices working together to make a whole.

"Beethoven Piano Concerto 5" by Bill Thierfelder 2008
5. What and who have been major influences and inspirations for your work?
 I love William Blake who meshed his writing and his art into a unified whole. One worked with the other. My list of favorite writers is endless, depending on the mood. Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, the English Romantic poets, Emerson, Thoreau, existential writers, and all those grand Canadian ladies: Shields, Atwood, Munro. As for art, my “temple” is the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I can wander the galleries for hours, absorbing everything I see. The American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Opera have also been and remain favorite, important “watering holes.”

6. Do you have a story you would like to share about the circumstances behind any particular work?
 I think all my work--the drawings and the stories--are very much informed by my day-to-day feelings and ideas. I really don’t write or draw anything “autobiographical” in the sense that I re-tell specific incidents. But I use my feelings and ideas as a launching point. A lot of my sense of isolation over the years (some of it self-imposed for self-protection) can be found in the kinds of characters and plot lines I create. My need to organize and synthesize (which is rooted in the emotionally unstable life I endured as a child) can be found in all my art. On the surface, it’s an abstract, seemingly spontaneous and colorful explosion of vivid colors. But if you look carefully, you’ll see that each drawing is really constructed from intricate layers of geometric shapes and or repeated, intricate design “bytes.”

7. What is next for you?
 My work as an artist is getting increasing recognition--I’ve been shown in Manhattan and at two different Long Island galleries in just the first four months of this year. I hope to see that trajectory bloom. I also continue to write stories and keep submitting them; someday “the break” will come. I don’t write for myself; I want to share with others and create a conversation. And I love my motivational work shops called MAKING WINGS: LIVING DELIBERATELY--what better thing to do than to help people see that they are treasure, that they can live meaning-filled lives, and that within them are all the tools they need for spiritual, emotional, and physical contentment.

You can discover more about Bill Thierfelder on his website:

And for more of the  photographer Cliff Satriano's "Photo Stories NY":

"Final Exam: Question Three" by Bill Thierfelder 2009
"Final Exam: Answer Three" by Bill Thierfelder 2009

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