Being raised in a small town full of aunts, uncles and cousins, it was hard to get away
with anything mischievous. Still, grandma’s house was a hub for fun and feeling loved.
It was on her walls I first saw, touched and really looked at original oil paintings.
I remember times, when unattended, going into her parlor, climbing onto her mauve
velvet upholstered cherry wood furniture, and both looking closely at and feeling the
texture of the brushwork in the landscape paintings hanging there. Little did I know
then what a role oil painting would play in my life.
After High School and serving as a missionary for 25 months in beautiful New Zealand, I started college, fell in love, got married, worked odd jobs and started a family. One job, working at a sign company, turned into a career choice as, in time, I started my own sign and graphic design business, left school and developed the business for seventeen years.
My 45-year-old mid-life response to “l don't have to be a sign guy my whole life” was to sell the successful business with no actual plan… sort of like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Luckily I followed my oh-so-smart wife’s advice and went back to finish college.
The BFA program at Weber State University required me to take three oil painting classes. Having heard how difficult oil painting can be, and having convinced myself I would not be able to oil paint, I put these classes off till my last three semesters. I actually took the math classes before the painting classes and devised a plan to talk the painting professor into allowing me to do something else during the semester. This did not happen. Like most people trying something new, I was afraid of doing poorly and being embarrassed in front of others. This did happen, I painted poorly, like beginners do. Everyone else in the class also painted poorly at first, and thus it was safe for everyone. We all just took on each assignment, trying our best.
Painting was (is) challenging, but I soon came to like it… a lot! The feel of brushing soft buttery paint onto canvas, and loosely blending colors together is wonderful. After the second semester class I was receiving commissions to do portraits of professors. By the end of the third semester class, I’d done six 48”x 60” paintings of blue collar workers (to represent all blue collar workers) as a cohesive body of work for my BFA thesis exhibition. As a sign maker, I’d done work for a lot of service companies. The paintings were hung a little higher than is typical, causing viewers to look up to these good people.
After graduation, these paintings became a significant portion of my portfolio, as I applied to graduate schools. Having been accepted to three great schools: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, The Academy of Fine Art in Manhattan, NY, and BYU in Provo, Utah, I accepted PAFA’s invitation to come. I couldn't resist all that American history in Philly
As incredible as all this may seem, the most amazing thing to me is how wonderfully supportive my dear wife Nettie has been. After all, we sold much of what we owned, including our home, left our adult sons in Utah, and moved 2,400 miles across the country with our seven year old daughter, as we chased a new dream - to earn a Master of Fine Art degree.
PAFA was fabulous, more than I ever could have imagined it would be. It knocked me on my backside, disrupted all my comfort zones and opened my eyes and mind to both see and struggle to comprehend concepts of art and painting previously unknown to me. I gained particular appreciation for solid, competent critiques of my work… thank you PAFA.
The whole experience of living on the East Coast sank deep into our lives and forever affected the way we think and our views of the world around us.
Happily, I now have paintings in private, commercial and government collections in the US, Canada, and abroad, many commissioned, many not.
However, Surprisingly to me, I have come to discover that even though everything mentioned here seems to be about me, about what has happened to me, about what I have gone through to get to this new place, to become an artist, an oil painter… I have come to realize the best part is the effect my artwork is having on others.
There are things that have naturally emerged in my paintings, things that I can now point out and talk about, but can't actually say were intentional or planned. They simply are part of the flow of art in my work. These things include the unique feeling of light, pleasant colorfulness, and even the interest found in shadows.
There is the natural realistic style with its feel of life, particularly in the paintings of people.
There is an overall general look that stirs feelings of enjoyment. Something that is unique and remarkable.
I hadn’t even realized this “style” was emerging in my paintings until visitors and collectors began pointing it out to me, and telling me how it makes them feel. This is a great blessing and I’m grateful.
You, dear reader, are personally invited to come and experience my working studio/gallery inside the Green Haus art collective. I’m located at 7341 East 200 South Huntsville, Utah, where I paint full time and also teach adult painting classes.
I look forward to meeting you.