NOVEMBER 2, 1996

Regina in the Studio"To follow down the path of a painter is to want to dive into the subconscious. To not know, to follow your instincts. You follow down dreams, longings, yearnings, obsessions, passions and you face the darkness of your own heart.
Using your blood and flesh, your guts and nerve endings while working with a medium - oil paint - that is a mystery in itself, that is alive and always changing and you can't get there using your logic, and you can't plan how to get there by going from A-B or from step 1 to step 2.
 Every painting is a beginning and a journey into the unknown.
To be a painter is to be alone with your soul.
It is a calling out to your soul.
To get away from the pettiness of the dry afternoon of reality where the chattering seizes.
Then you are free.
To feel the relentless passing of time, always.
It is an endless quest for truth and freedom.
It is to feel fully awake and alive...

Regina in LOVE, MEDEA at Bullet SpaceAnd for all of you out there who are artists, whether you are a painter, a writer, actor, singer or musician, I must issue you this warning:
Hold on to your dreams, like a pit bull holds on to his enemy's throat, with your teeth all in, and don't let go...
Because if you are an artist - you are suspect - don't you know? You're up to no good!
And the killer waits in the wings for you, smiling they will come for you, and as they hug you, you will feel their sharp knives go into your back.
And they come in many disguises, and you will not always recognize them. It can start with your family or close friends when you first have the audacity to tell them that you are an artist. They will look up from their dinner plates and scream with red faces that you cannot possibly call yourself an artist because you make no money from it. But you continue on, because you must. The die is cast. You've jumped in headfirst. This is a way of life for you.
And if you're lucky, you may find 1 or 2 people who believe in you.
And be on the look out and don't be shocked at what you're accused of, because the artist's life is a way of life that causes jealousy in the hearts of petty people.
You'll be called, lazy, crazy, immoral, amoral, unmoral, selfish, not political enough, not communal enough, antisocial, subversive, degenerate, even bourgeois! But what it really means is that you haven't given up the ghost. And you refuse to apologize for liking to be alive, and you refuse to walk around with your head bowed. You feel the pulse of life beating in your blood.

Regina and Ray Charles on Studio WallVINCENT VAN GOGH said: "Mauve takes it amiss that I said, "I am an artist." Which I won't take back, because its self-evident that what that word implies is looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the very opposite of saying, "I know all about it, I've already found it" As far as I am concerned, the word means, "I am looking, I am hunting for it, I am deeply involved."
You put your own self on trial; you ask yourself enough questions to hang yourself. You don't need the petty tyrants to point their fingers at you. Ignore them, and if you must, break those fingers off and stuff them down their throats. That should stop their wagging tongues.

To feel the spark of creativity running through you, to be inspired is something that is hard to explain. I can only say you are very awake, and very alive, and it is all happening in the moment. And the muse, she comes and goes. A lot of times the work goes slow and it is hard and you'll want to throw your brushes down in despair...but that is when you have to become the work horse and fight your way through, because as in the last words on painting of that great painter, Frances Bacon, "A painter should be painting."

Hold on to this way of life because it is one of great mystery and beauty.

Steel yourself

Make strong your heart

Keep the faith,

Don't give up the fight!"


note: Regina Bartkoff was born and raised in New York City, the daughter of a subway motorman.