Friday, October 1, 2010

Couldn't Sleep So......

As you may know by now, the famous artist, Don Hatfield, has gone bankrupt and foreclosed on about two million dollars of debt.   In 1988 I payed $200,000 for my beautiful 15 acre estate in the hills above Napa Valley and leveraged the thing to 1.5 mil over 22 years.  When the economy went in the dumper I got caught in the California real estate collapse,  and  my house went upside down.  The art market began to slide as well, and the snow ball effect was in play.  I began paying house payments with my credit cards hoping I could stay even long enough to catch up--well, as you smart ones know--that doesn't work.    I thought bankruptcy was immoral, and that the Christian thing to do was fight the wolf to the death.  I began to reflect on my age, energy, mojo, spirit and all that,  and concluded that dying for my debt was not as noble as dying for my dog and cat.

Its all behind me now,  and I am debt free--except for a car payment and gym fees.  Once I got over the stigma, the guilt,  and the name calling (looser)--I settled into the bliss of debt freeness.  I could have kept fighting, but I said, what to hell--literally.  I am an old guy now with one foot in the grave and the other on a tube of paint, and I decided it was time to be available to something else besides my creditors.  Can you understand and forgive me?  If you can't now--you may later.  If you go through this crap--remember that your Big Brother Don went before and said that it was OK--deal?

One thing you must promise--don't call me for financial advice!  I just sold all of my gold at $1275 thinking I had kicked butt only to watch it soar to $1310.  I even began tithing my income to the Episcopalian Church where I sneak in for communion each Sunday hoping for a miracle.  I did get my miracle--the Big Okey Dokey from Jesus to just go ahead and admit that the big nut was too much, and that it was OK to fail--so I went into financial chemo therapy.  I have lost all of my hair, and I am thin now, but I am still ambulatory--I think.  My leg just went to sleep,  and I need a hair cut. 

Had enough? There is more.

I have been decompressing from Weekend With The Masters.  A kind of depression has set it.  I did not find any secret formulas or world shaking insights that might make my oil painting easier.  There were no masters--only a weekend.   I just find myself sitting in my old studio--the whole upstairs of my forest home--trying to figure out the design of the next big commission--a 36by48 oak three/vineyard request for a hotel lobby in beautiful Yountville.  The house/studio has gone back to the bank and we are waiting to be kicked out.  We have a beautiful rental that is being prepared, but I need a studio space for all of my stuff.  We could squat here for months or for days--who knows?  A few trips to the dump, and I can avoid storage fees.  But back to my funk.

I kept Janey, my sweet wife, awake with my chain saw snoring, so I decided to sleep in the downstairs bedroom where we found a rattle snake two weeks ago--the thing ran off and is still around here somewhere--he is probably watching me right now waiting for his big chance!  The fantasy of having a rattler crawl into bed with you  can tweak with your sleep.  What do you do if you take a strike in the eyeball?--see what I mean?  After crawling around on my knees checking under all of the furniture--I laid down on my Thermapeutic and stared at the ceiling in the dark.

Things can become very clear alone in the dark.  I heard bird noises, cattle mooing, the dogs moving around--but no snakes--only the stuff slithering in my head.

What do I do with the little remaining time I have left on the planet?  My world class bike riding buddy, Richard, just died of lung cancer.  This guy was in perfect shape and only 53.  He was a real sweet heart, and I am such a turd--why not me?

I told you I was in a funk.  I did what I always do when I feel like I am being swallowed in darkness.  I began to pray.  I know--some of you think that its just auto-suggestion,  or self-hypnosis, or some form of verbal ejaculation.  I am not making recommendations here or preaching or even advocating religion--I am just telling you what's been happening, dammit!  So calm down.  No--you calm down, Hatfield!

Where was I ?  Anyway--things get clear in the wee hours.  The search for values, color, edges, design, narrative, expression seem dim right now.  My mind turns to the persons in my sphere of influence, beginning with my wife, children, grand children, and all the rest.

So here sits Mr. Artist.  And since I just dipped some chew, I may be sitting here til sunrise.  Maybe I should go to a 24 hour Denny's for an early breakfast--the kind I used to eat before weight loss mania--bacon, pancakes, hash browns, juice, coffee, and milk.  So wad do ya do?  My old brother Dick used to say...."just do the next right thing."  Its more fun to do the next wrong thing, but since I have done that for years, I think I will give it a rest for a minute.

Yeah Bath

I think I will just shut up and try listening for some message from somewhere that will give me some you know what so I can do you know what--ya know what I mean?   Find out who really loves ya and be nice to 'em.  Its later than you think.  I'm  headed for Dennys--its 4:30AM PST.  Baby Eva, my grand daughter, has it figgered--a bubble bath!  Don


  1. Is it odd your post made me hungry? Hope you opted for the meat, eggs and cheese!

    You're still my favorite, if that helps...

  2. I way contratulations on your difficult decision! I have a dear friend going through the same thing. Sorry to hear you didn't find any new tricks or secrets, that's always so much fun. Or masters for that matter. I wish you peace with your decision, and faith in people. Stay well. Best ...

  3. Don, we're both struggling with major crisis in our lives and it's TOUGH! But we're the GOOD guys, remember? . . . . and we win in the end.

  4. "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

    St. Francis of Assisi

  5. Don,
    Love ya. Losers unite. I'm one. But just when you think the wolves are at the door, remember the divine sheepdogs... Really! Ps. 23 says it.
    "Surely Goodness and Mercy (that's them!) shall follow me all the days of my life.."
    ps. maybe hire a ferret for that snake?

  6. Sometimes ya gotta get mad. I'd hunt down and make a rattlesnake omlette for starters.
    Then I'd eat it like the crow I had last week.
    Just remember to say grace before you dig in.

  7. Oh Don...I'm so sorry to hear everything has gone so badly. I know you have peace of mind with the bankruptcy, but you've lost your home and your studio. Your friend dying must have been awful too. You just do what you have to do, and what feels right for you. Yeah, you have your health and what have you, but it's ok to feel dejected. I hope that you get some fire in your belly soon to get you back on top of the world! Love, your friend, Heather.

  8. Don, I sincerly hope you the best. I don't want to be misunderstood. You have inspired me with your artistry, and human perspectives. Lots of love big guy!

  9. Don, nobody knows the hour or the day. You could still have a quarter to a third of your life left, especially since you're getting healthy. (Isn't that depressing? :D) My first art teacher did not begin exhibiting until he was 55 and painted daily until he was 90. Take the path of least resistance. You said basically the same thing--something about doing the big obvious thing. Also what Craig said. I'm trying to take my own advice, though the obvious thing often doesn't seem that obvious.