“From want to being,” the title of his first one-man show, is something Ron Deel knows a little about.
“There are a lot of people who want to be artists, but they usually don’t have the confidence to do it,” said Deel, a Ruskin artist. “But the difference between want(ing to be something) and being (something) is one simple thing — and that is doing it.”
Deel’s work is the subject of a new show at Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association in Brandon. The show includes 52 paintings and runs through Aug. 28.
An artist’s reception is slated for 5:30 to 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Aug. 7, at Center Place, 619 Vonderburg Drive.
Through cancer (Deel says his doctor gave him a 5 percent chance of survival) and war (the artist voluntarily served three years in Vietnam during the war there in the late 1960s), art has been a constant for Deel.
“The one thing that has always seen me through all the crises in life has been my painting,” he said. “It was like therapy to me.”
Specializing in eye-catching art featuring nature scenes, Deel’s work on turtles and birds seems to leap from the canvas. “I’m trying to connect people with animal life and bring them up close to the animal and maybe let the animal see them, too,” Deel said jokingly.
With a modern graphic, bold, in-your-face style, Deel’s work is hard to ignore once it catches the eye, even at a distance.
“You can walk 100 feet away from my work, and all my pictures come out at you,” he said. “They literally have magnetism and draw you in. As you come up to my paintings, they don’t disappear on you.
“A lot of artists paint things that look attractive from a distance, but once you are up close, they are just big marks of color. But I try to maintain the detail up to the point when you just about have your nose on the canvas.”
After serving three years in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, he returned home in 1971 at age 24 to study psychology at West Virginia State University. “I was interested in studying what creativity was then,” said the artist. A plan to pursue a doctoral degree at Ohio State University went by the wayside when, Deel said, he was diagnosed with cancer.
“The doctor said I have 5 chances in 100 of surviving. I was in my mid-20s and didn’t take it well. It caused me to reevaluate my life,” he said.
He beat the cancer, and he decided he was going to create with his hands, working as an industrial artist/engineer in plastics for 40 years, art his constant companion.
After retiring eight years ago, Deel took up the brush as a professional artist.
“I didn’t even think I could sell them, but I have been fortunate,” he said.
The type of fortune some artists might cut off an ear for. He has patrons all over Florida and has sold more than 1,000 pieces. Deel’s work sells for between $50 for smaller pieces to more than $1,200 for larger artworks. And although he could probably live well from just a few shows a year, given the growing popularity of his work, Deel still gets a thrill from seeing the public respond to his art for the first time, especially children.
“When the kids come by, they are very honest,” he said. “You have to learn to be defensive, but as a child you automatically respond to your environment.”
That’s why Deel started painting rocks.
“The rocks were for the kids,” he said. “They can pick them up and look at them without worrying about punching a hole in the canvas; they can just look at it in their hands. It has nothing to do with me; it’s a personal experience for them, which is what art is,” said Deel, who is a regular at art festivals in Apollo Beach and Ruskin.
Once complete, his artwork, about which he has an almost paternalistic feel, has to find its own place in the world.
Deel said: “I am out of the equation. It has to make a connection with someone who thinks it’s important enough to take into their home and it becomes a part of their life.”
Letting go is not always easy for Deel.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to let go, but I have to let go because the art transcends me at that point,” he said.
For more information on Deel’s work and upcoming shows he’s attending, check his page on Facebook. For more information on the Brandon show, call 813-685-8888.