Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's been a year.

This has been the greatest year of my life.
I've loved it all.
I always wanted to be an oil painter, now I am.
And a year from now, I'll be so much better, today's painting will look like kindergarten finger painting.
This past month has been a little difficult. We've been helping our kids, visiting with family, and doing family vacation.
Then I had a mini stroke, and I've been visiting doctors and doing the HORRIBLE MRI thing.
But I keep painting.
And I'll paint again soon.
I want to enter something into the State Fair. I really need to get busy to do that.
I'm also going to be taking my easel out and trying some Plein Aire Painting experiences.
I've just got to let the weather cool off a little first.
Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a seascape I tried today.
I really need to work at this. It's harder for me than I thought it would be.

Friday, May 30, 2014

I’ve reached a plateau.

It’s not that there’s any trouble or anything.
I’m just not seeing the huge improvement that I used to see each time I painted.
But that’s okay. I knew I would reach a plateau. The trick is not to stop. I have to keep painting.
I still love it with all my heart.
They say that we can’t see improvement in our lives until time passes, and we stop and look back on what we have done.
I hope that’s true for my painting.
So, I’ve now painted 50 canvases.  I think I’m succeeding at being regular and diligent with my practice.
I also recently turned 50.
One of my goals is to become a really competent painter during my 50th year.
I hope I’m accomplishing that.
So, here’s a couple of my latest paintings. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
I’ll keep going.
In fact, I have to scenes that I’m painting tomorrow.
Maybe one will be a miracle.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Somebody took one of my paintings!

Actually I’ve placed five.
The first two went at the same time. And who took those first two paintings?
Art connoisseurs? Dealers? Wealthy people?
My mom and my sister. I gave each of them a painting for a Christmas present. I was very touched that they actually requested a painting as a gift. The support I’ve received in my family has been very inspirational.
Then my dad had a neighbor notice their new painting and say really nice things about it. Dad said that he was sure that I would give him a painting as well, and he asked for two! One for his office, one for the lobby of his office.
How about that?
The fifth went to a dear friend, Guillermo Zelaya. Guillermo works for a bank, and I actually called him and asked if he would hang a painting in his office. He was delighted! We had a great lunch together that day. So this whole thing about placing paintings hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be.
I think I expected family and friends to mock and laugh at me when I first started painting. No one has. Everyone has seemed very sincere when they’ve made a fuss over my latest painting. So I’m happy that those two paintings have found homes. That’s what I want. I want my paintings to wind up somewhere where they’ll be loved.
I also need to get rid of them so that they don’t pile up and take over my house. I guess they’re kind of like puppies in that sense.

So I’m going to be a little bit assertive about finding places to hang my artwork. This will be a little challenging for me, because being timid is one of my most annoying faults.
Oh, and here's my lasted painting:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I’m going through changes

My set up for painting has been cumbersome up till now. I’ve been using a ceramic tile covered in wax paper for a palette. I’ve been laying out a big piece of board on the kitchen table where I arrange all my tools.
Now I’ve gone out and purchased an actual, Plexiglas, artist’s palette. It’s made a change immediately. I like using the palette, but I will admit that I have lifted my palette vertically a couple of times and stained my shirt with paint.
I bought a folding table at the Desert Industries thrift shop. I can organize my paints, supplies and tools in a more compact manner. The result so far has been that I have achieved a new concentration on my work.
One of the reasons that I’m so happy with my changes is that I understand that it’s important that I avoid getting too deeply entrenched in bad habits.
I don’t even want bad habits in my style of painting. No ruts.
That’s one of the reasons that I’m taking different kinds of instruction, and trying to fix paintings after I have finish and when I’m not satisfied with the final result.
Below is one if the paintings I fixed.
I loved it after I finished it. Great story: I called my good friend Memo after I finished this one, and I asked him if he would like to have it. He said he would love to have it, and so I took it to him and had a lovely lunch with him.

That’s what my painting is all about. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to see what new directions painting will bring to my life.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fixing paintings

I’ve been looking at canvases I’ve already painted. We talked before about paintings that turned out badly. Sometime I look at them and see that there is nothing that could be done to save them.
But others I look at and I see that I could do something now to save them that maybe I didn’t know how to do back then.

So I’ve been fixing my bad paintings.
It’s easy to do now, because the paint has dried.

The only challenge I’ve faced is when the dried paint has texture, and I want to smooth something over the top of it.
But overall it has become another exercise in the process of learning that I have more than one chance to get things right. And I’ve been really thrilled because some of the “bad” paintings I’ve done have turned out to be my favorites after I’ve fixed them.

And I must say that the difference is very encouraging when I see it. That goes for paintings that I try a second time. I like to see the progress I’m making.
I’m learning many new things about painting. Because I started with Bob Ross, the style of painting I’ve learned is basically “alla prima” which means painting a picture start to finish in one sitting. The way Bob Ross paints, with his “liquid white” base coat, means that when I go back to fix something, I don’t have that “wet” sense to the painting, and that has been one aspect of fixing a painting that has been challenging.

But “alla prima” isn’t the only way I want to paint. I’m learning every way I can. I am still working on my self-portrait, and I hope to have that up soon.

In the meantime, here’s a painting that I did before, and took another shot at:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I don’t want to have to throw these away!

I try to paint at least twice a week, and I have to admit that the canvases are starting to stack up. So I want to find good homes for my paintings so that I’ll never have to throw one away.
I’ve been worried about this. When most people start something new, they are very self-deprecating. They recognize that their first efforts aren’t very good. That’s just the way it is. As a painter I understood that it would be a while before anyone wanted my paintings, if at all.
But then my family and friends started to express genuine appreciation of my paintings. And I started thinking. If those who know and care about me like my paintings, could other people like them too?
So I need the courage to show my paintings to people who are NOT close family and friends, and ask them to hang my paintings in their places of business.
Why not in their homes? Okay. I guess they could hang in homes. But I want them in high traffic areas where lots of people can see them.
Now, I’ve been in sales most of my life. I understand how to get out and pound the pavement and sell a product.
So I’m finding places to hang my paintings. I want to find people who might want to hang one of my pictures in their businesses.
Would you like one of my pictures?

I’d love to give you one.
Here’s one based on a picture I saw recently

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don’t paint in stone.

I’ve noticed that spending a considerable amount of time at a painting, and having it turn out bad, is an agonizing experience.  
I stand there helplessly and watch as my creation DOESN’T turn out the way I had hoped. I watch in HORROR as paint turns to mud, or perspective turns flat, or images look amateurish. What I had hoped would be a vision of glory turns into a nightmare. When happens, I feel like I’ve failed, and my chance to put that image on canvas is lost.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It occurred to me after a few months of painting that I could paint the same picture or idea another time! There wasn’t any rule that said that I could only paint each picture one time.

What a revelation! I get more than one shot at any picture I want to produce.
All the great painters paint studies and draw sketches of their ideas before they settle down with their palette and canvas.

You and I can do that too. We can sketch, we can make preliminary studies, and we can paint more than one attempt at anything we want to paint.
So don’t think of your paintings as etched in stone. Think of them as first, second, or third attempts.

Should you throw some of them away?
I don’t know what to tell you there. Some painters, including myself, don’t want to throw any of them away, and I’ll talk more about that later. It’s a good thing to keep them, because of what we’re talking about right now. Keeping your bad paintings give you a reference to see how far you’ve come.

Don’t carve your paintings in stone. Give yourself a fighting chance to get it right.
So set a goal, and try your paintings over and over again until you get them right.

Here’s one I painted a second time. You can go back and compare it with a painting just like it that I painted months ago. It’s here on the blog somewhere:

Friday, February 14, 2014


You’re never going to improve unless someone tells you what you’re doing wrong. But hearing someone tell you how bad your work is can be very difficult.

So the world tells us about the critique. If it comes from the heart, and if it’s not contrived, a critique is a wonderful thing.

Everyone in my family has been very, very supportive of my painting. Every time I paint, my daughter and my wife run with excitement to my easel after I’m finished to see what I’ve painted. They’re always happy. They tell me how wonderful the new painting is. If I’m not happy with my work, they point out things about the painting that are really good and showing improvement.

Then, just as I am starting to glow with pride, my daughter will quickly point as something in the painting. For example, she might say: “I don’t like those trees. What happened there?”

I love when she does that. Her enthusiasm about my painting is sincere, so I pay close attention to the criticisms she has. When she points out something she doesn’t like about my paintings, instead of feeling defensive, I look at the offending part of my painting and immediately I’m thinking of how I could have done it better. That’s worth its weight in gold.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but the response to my painting has been overwhelmingly positive. People have gushed over my paintings. I’m sure that some people are just being polite. But the times when my daughter or my wife point out things about my paintings that they don’t like, well, those times have launched me forward by leaps and bounds. I always start immediately to fix and improve what they’ve pointed out.

The worst kind of comment I’ve received?

I will willingly admit that there have been a few times when my family has rushed to my easel to see what I’ve painted, and after looking for a few moments, they’ve said:

“OOOOHHHHHH! Well. Just keep trying.

That hurts so much. It really does.
Here's the latest:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Who I am

I’ve been trying to define that for fifty years.  

Did you ever think about that? Who are you? Are you more than your name? Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of a hippie question. So let’s ask it another way. 
What am I?
I’m a lot of things, I guess.
I play the guitar. People say that about me. He plays the guitar. But I’ve never really felt comfortable calling myself a guitar player. I’ve always been disappointed with my guitar playing abilities. I keep playing the guitar though, and I’m always working on a new guitar project, so I guess I’m a guitar player.
What else? Nothing really. I mean, I tell a good joke, I enjoy public speaking.
Oh, and I’m a father. My wife says that’s important. It says a lot about me. I’m not negating the importance of fatherhood, and I’ve loved every second of being a father. I have a wonderful family. But all kinds of men are fathers.
I remember when my father felt this way. My mother pointed out to him that being a father was a good thing. I can’t forget what he said at that time. He said that he felt like a large dog on a short chain, pacing around in his own excrement.
I’ve tried hard not to feel that way in my life.
Now I am a painter.
I’ve always known I was a painter. I knew when I saw great works of art. I knew when I went to see the LeConte Stewart prints at the county courthouse with my mother. I knew that if I ever picked up a brush, I’d be able to paint. I didn’t want to draw or do anything else, I just wanted to oil paint.
Being a painter is starting to have an effect on everything I do. When I buy clothes, I consider options keeping in mind that I’m a painter now. When I plan time off, I’m thinking of things I can do that will further my new painting hobby.
I waited till I was 49 years old for a variety of reasons, but I always felt like I was a painter.
And even more important than that, I knew what I wanted to paint.
I’d like to be able to paint people, but what I really want is to paint landscapes. I want to paint places that I love the way I see them.

So for the rest I my life, I’m going to be a painter. I’m thankful for this new life category.
Here's one of my own:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Today is a special day.

Today I reached one one hundredth of a mile. I’ve painted 39 canvases, and that’s a milestone that means a lot to me.  17 yards. 53 feet. I’m amazed at the difference between today’s paintings, and the first ones I did. I hope I feel that way in July, when I will mark one year of painting. How many yards and feet will it be then? I don’t know. How long is it going to take to paint a mile? Maybe the rest of my life.
But it was very satisfying to reach that 1 one hundredth of a mile point. It was especially satisfying to have one of the pictures I painted today come from my own ideas.

So today I am feeling great motivation to continue on to my goal.  And I’d like to say that the quality of my work is also telling me that moving forward to my goal is going to be very exciting.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My new invention

So, we've talked a little about Bob Ross here. Because I’ve learned a little bit about his method, I’ve learned to use a 2 inch brush. Cleaning those larger brushes is a challenge.
Now Bob always cleans his brushes by dipping them in mineral spirits, and then beating them vigorously across the leg of his easel.  He always points out the cleaning his brush that way is a lot of fun. He also points out that if we clean our brushes at home that way, we’ll get paint and mineral spirits all over the walls.
I tried Bob’s brush cleaning method on the shower curtain bar in our downstairs bathroom. Bob was right, my wife was very unhappy with the results. But it worked, just like Bob says it does in his programs. The brush came away clean and dry after beating it furiously in the bar.
Since that experiment, I’ve given the whole brush cleaning problem a lot of thought. So recently I went to Deseret Industries, (a thrift store in Utah) and I bought an old plastic storage container for 2 dollars. Then I bought a wooden dowel at a hardware store. I cut the dowel to the width of the container, and I fastened the dowel about two thirds of the way down into the container, using screws through the outside. Can you picture that? Horrible description.
Anyway, the next time I painted, I cleaned my brushes the way Bob Ross does on his show. I dipped them generously in the mineral spirits, brushing them against the rack in the jar. Then I beat those brushes furiously against the dowel near the bottom of my plastic container. It worked PERFECTLY! The brushes came out dry and clean.
This is the first in a line of things that I hope will make my painting cleaner, faster, and easier.

I’ll upload a picture of my container, or bucket, as soon as I can.

Here it is:


Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Talent requires practice.  I am totally willing to practice. I love to paint. I want to paint every chance I get. So required practice is not a problem for me.
Usually I am able to do at least two canvases a week. But I admit that sometimes something happens that keeps me from painting. Work commitments and family commitments sometimes demand my time.  So yes, there have been occasions when I have not be able to paint for a week or two. But my resolve is to paint a couple of canvases a week.
I hope to see a time when I will be able to paint every day.
I am very lucky to have a family that is supportive of my painting like my family is. My wife and children have never complained about my painting. In fact, my wife will often ask me: “Are you going to paint tonight?” When she is making evening plans.
I am usually disappointed with the paintings I do. Sometimes I am so worked up after painting that I can’t sleep. But I have to be patient. It’s very important that I try to see the good in my paintings so that I can build on the good things that I’m learning.
Really I can’t see that discipline is going to be a problem for me. I am loving every second of this new activity in my life. I look for every opportunity I can to paint and I absorb every drop of instruction I can find.
So my message is this: You have to have discipline. If you approach painting, or any other activity, from a stand point of casual interest, you will almost certainly be frustrated with the result.

Here’s a little result of my discipline: