Fan Questions, Part 2

 In the second instalment of Fan Questions, we go to Connie who asked:

Did you ever take classes or did you pick it up and teach yourself?

Such a good question.

Like many people, I took art in high school. Do I remember actually learning anything in the class? That would be a hard no. I remember absolutely nothing. I do remember Mr. Schaeffer, our elementary school principal, giving us a lesson on perspective and vanishing points. That sticks in my mind for some reason.

I don't think I learned from books either in those early years (in more recent years either). The truth is I just drew. I drew a lot. In fact, buried in a box in our storage locker are many of those drawings from the mid 1970s.
Looking at them now, they were mostly crap, but there might have been a glimpse or a tease of what might be possible.

I did pencil and pen portraits through my youth and early adult years. I got progressively better as time marched on and I gave many of these drawings away to friends and relatives. In the early 1990s, I tried my hand at scratch art. This is a technique where you use an X-acto precision knife to scratch on black lacquered paper to draw an image. Portraits of Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, and Willie Nelson were turned into prints.
These projects were my first foray in trying to earn a little money from my love of doing portraits. I got paper prints made of a few of these - sold a few, but gave away more. 

At some point I picked up a paint brush. My memory is very foggy as to when that might have been. My best guess is that it was at some point in the mid 1990s when I first moved to Fort McMurray. Portraits of Bob Dylan, Maya Angelou, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane and others jump out from this period.
And even though I had been gifted an easel, at this point I still painted flat, usually on the kitchen table. 

Jumping ahead to Christmas of 2012, my father in law Neil offered to give our son Ben a watercolour lesson. I asked if I might tag along as watercolours had always intrigued me. Shortly after that introduction, I did my first wild colour portrait of a writer named Christopher Hitchens.
More wild colour portraits that Christmas season and the holiday season of the following year.
However, I was in a busy professional role and I was an elected official with local government. I was busy, too busy to paint. 

All of this background sets the stage if you will for what happened in 2014. I went to into our back alley in Fort McMurray and discovered that our shed had been tagged.
The "Shed" was my carpentry shop at the time. I had all kinds of tools for doing woodworking projects from a big table saw and drill press, to a chop saw and planer. I looked at that tag and instantly and inexplicably thought that I should cover it up with a large portrait. on the adjacent side of that same shed were several two tone paintings I had done years earlier. With my recent adventure with wild colour watercolour portraits, I wondered what would happen if I took that same approach using acrylic and painting large. 

That tag and the mural that followed are the origin story of my current art journey. While I asked a few questions along the way, I am completely self taught and stubbornly so. My approach is iterative. 

ITERATION is the repetition of a process in order to generate a sequence of outcomes. Each repetition of the process is a single iteration, and the outcome of each iteration is then the starting point of the next iteration.

I evolve and grow by doing, doing, and doing again. I do a lot. Over 2,300 paintings I have discovered happy accidents, unexpected surprises, interesting techniques and unlikely subjects. This is my journey with a few influences by osmosis.

Will I ever take a formal course or workshop? Never say never, but I haven't yet. 


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