A common theme among some of the artists we’ve featured involves falling in love with art at an early age, setting it aside for years — even decades — while holding down jobs and/or raising families, then rediscovering and returning to it in later years. Luckily, as John Sauerzopf points out, art can be enjoyed at any age. There’s no timeline, and the only requirements are a desire to explore, create and express yourself…things John is now doing with gusto.
Come see his work on display in the children’s wing August 3 through September 6, and read on to learn more about John and his artistic evolution…
When did you know you were an artist?
I was in grade school. I had a teacher who influenced me, let me explore colors, designs, and patterns. It provided this sense of control to freely create as I envisioned the world. From that point on, I can’t remember a time where I could have a piece of paper or napkin in hand that did not have some sort of stamp of creativity.
The interesting thing about art is that it’s timeless. Unlike athletes whose careers can bottom out at 25 or a young executive who wants to be a CEO by the time they’re 40, art doesn’t have a clock or timetable for which one has to define the early path. If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I was ever provided the wisdom or truth to expand on my interests in art in the early years of my life. However, throughout my life, I always found myself longing for time to be creative and to reconnect with the young child within me who fell in love with exploring colors. I believe it is through this reconnection over the past 15 to 20 years that I have rediscovered my love for art, which has helped me to pursue this new exciting adventure.
When and why did you decide to pursue art as a career?
Art was never something I viewed as a potential career. In my adolescence, I found self-expression in multiple forms, school unfortunately not always being my strongest suit. That said, I found similar passion in sports, which in turn provided me the opportunity to go to college and play collegiate football, which provided new perspective as to what the world could have in store for me. As is the case for many young adults, life begins to unfold, decisions must be made, and I embarked on a career in the corporate world, forgoing my passions in art, which was put on hold for an extensive period.
Where did you get your professional training, if any.
I am self-taught. I was fortunate to travel to many beautiful serene places around the world, experiencing art through different cultures, people and visionaries. It was from these experiences that I continued to feed my thirst to learn and read about various artists, and reinvent my passion to develop new skills in abstract art and self-expression.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Time. Art is a labor of love, and something I can find myself lost in for hours, at times working on multiple pieces at once. I value my family over all things in life, raising two great sons with my loving wife Carol, and now being “Poppy” to five adoring grandchildren. My biggest challenge was and still is being intentional about reserving the time to create and express myself through my art, which unfortunately took me a long time in life to balance between my family, work, and creativity.
I believe it started when my boys started their own families, and I wound up with time on my hands — free time to paint. I then set up my art studio alongside my office space in the house.
What successes or achievements are you most proud of?
The life I built with my wife and world we created together. All too often, “moments” can sweep us away, but time and reflection can help you draw in what truly is important. For me, that’s raising my sons to reach beyond their dreams and instilling confidence that maybe I did not always instill in myself. My art hopefully reflects that you can always recapture moments in your life, and ignite the passions that once allowed you to freely express how you envision the world, and hopefully it is through my art that I can continue to convey that it is never too late to discover (or in my case, rediscover) your passions!
What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
Be yourself, paint or draw what comes to mind, there is no wrong. Look around you, see the beauty in things we all take for granted. Do not be intimidated. Believe me, when people find out I like to paint, they can’t believe it. You cannot judge a book by its cover.
Quite certainly it did, as taking time to paint became my outlet from the world! Free from news, the pain of not being able to see your family, the constant feeling of one being trapped inside their own home. It further enhanced my ability to create without guilt, as with the limitations of not being able to socialize in the world allowed me more time to create.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
My art is my way of expressing myself and relaxing. I let it all flow together to create. As I shared, I believe there is no wrong way in how one views the world and expresses themselves. I use different tools, whatever is available. I like my creations to all be different. I never create the same piece twice.
ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.
Visit the ART@EPL page to see all the artists who have led workshops and exhibited work at the library as part of ART@EPL.