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: