It was the second and final day of the art festival and my booth insulated the hot, stagnant, afternoon air. Sales had slowed down since the first day’s early rush, so I was able to converse more with people who came to my booth. I found myself standing up in the tent, surrounded by my paintings and chatting with art patrons and aficionados. A gentleman of about eighty or so, wearing a woven safari-style golf hat, walked into the booth. Beneath his large pilot sunglasses, he observed my work for a few minutes and then turned to me.

With a raspy, dulled east-coast accent, he asked me in the insolent way some elderly people feel entitled to, “So who taught you perspective?”

The question confused me and I wasn’t really sure how to answer him. I couldn’t tell if he was being condescending or if he really wanted to know, as if I could somehow narrow all my influences and teachers on the subject down to a single person that he just happened to know of.

Perhaps it was the heat, or maybe the fatigue from being at the festival for two days, but never the less, I found myself unable to respond directly to his question, as if my wits had just left me to get some fresh air. I offered a reserved but sincere reply and simply shrugged, “I like to bend the rules of linear perspective to a level that appeals to me.”

He scoffed at my unfulfilling response, took one last look around the tent, as if to confirm my answer and walked out of the tent just as abruptly as he had entered. I’m still thinking about the whole thing now, wondering if I could have given a different response… but I really don’t think I could have.