Recently I learned of the passing of one of my favorite writers, Texas artist and popular author Jack White. When I was told this sad news, I had a hard time holding back the tears. No, I didn't know Jack personally, although we had exchanged comments a time or two when I had responded to something he had written online or in one of the art magazine I subscribe to. The news hit me hard; after reading his columns for over 15 years, and benefiting greatly from Jack's vast store of wisdom and advice, I had come to think of him as a mentor.
In this I'm certainly not alone. Jack White touched and helped thousands -- millions -- of artists all over the globe each time he shared his views and experiences about the business side of art. Jack's mission in life was helping artists to succeed, however they wished to define success. And he was eminently qualified to help light their way: he himself enjoyed an illustrious career as a professional artist whose works routinely command five or more figures.
Despite his remarkable achievements, he never lost his ability to walk in a fellow artist's shoes. Jack knew from personal experience what it was like to be down to your last dime, with mouths to feed, and no prospects for selling your work. He knew what it was like to risk everything by hitting the road to find buyers, selling paintings out of the trunk of his car. He was resourceful and gutsy and persistent, and over the course of his life those qualities earned him a level of success few have matched. His encouraging message to all of us was, "You can do this, too." Generously sharing his knowledge via hundreds of columns and the publication of eight books aimed at artists, Jack happily and willingly showed us how, holding nothing back.
Jack White was a remarkable man. He was a gifted artist, yet he was humble. Plain-spoken, he was also an expert on Texas history, authoring a compelling account of the fall of the Alamo in his book Ten Years in Texas. There were many dimensions to his life beyond art, and his achievements were many. He loved America deeply, and was a patriot to the core. He loved life, and he lived it to the fullest.
His passing leaves me profoundly saddened, but Jack, I think, would be the first to counsel against this. I can just imagine him pausing before his easel in the hereafter, peering down at mourners like myself, and admonishing us to get over it and get busy. That would be typical Jack White advice. He had no use for wimps. So in closing, I'll simply say, " Jack, you were truly one of a kind. Your generosity has helped so many, including myself. We are deeply grateful for all you've shared with us, and you will be forever missed."