I've always wanted to be an artist ever since I can remember. I’m doing now exactly what I wanted to do when I was a young boy.
In a sense my paintings are just me reliving my own childhood and my own life experiences, or maybe the way I would have liked it to be. I’m really moved by the memories of days gone by. Sometimes I think the memories are better than the reality. I love to paint children. There’s an innocence they have that I never get tired of trying to put on canvas.
Art for me has to come from the heart. An emotionally conceived painting projects itself to the viewer. I want my paintings to show life as good, honest, wholesome and clean, full of hope and inspiration.
If I can attract people to these kinds of principles, even in a small way, I feel like I’ve said something in my art.
I was born in Holdenville, Oklahoma. My brother Clayne was born a year after me in Los Angeles, California where our family had moved. Our early child hood was during the war years of World War II.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. My Mom was always telling me what a great artist I was. She would make so much out of my drawings that I believed her. She made Clayne and I think we were great.
We rode our bikes, played baseball in vacant lots, and shot marbles, all the things kids do, and there was always a dog following us around. Through it all there was always time to draw and I drew constantly. My paintings are just a reflection of my boyhood.
I started painting when I was about twelve and I was always giving my paintings to friends and relatives. I loved art supply stores and I remember buying a large canvas and walking the few miles home and thinking I was going to paint a masterpiece (I really meant it). I was 13 years old, it was a painting of a barber and his customer in “The Old Barber Shop”. It wasn’t a masterpiece of course, but I thought it was and I gave it to Mom, and she hung it in the house for years, proud of my accomplishment. My sons have it now.
In high school I was told that I could get an art scholarship to the Art Center College of Design, in Los Angeles, but instead I dropped out of high school and joined the Army. I wanted to be a paratrooper. Little did I know what I was getting into. I ended up in the Infantry with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Later I was stationed in Panama and spent my last year on the boxing team. My dad was a boxer when he was young and he taught us boxing from the time we were five or six years old. I was always walking around throwing left jabs into the air. I still do when no one is watching. I still work out on the heavy bag and run 10 to 12 miles every other day.
When I got out of the service I thought seriously about becoming a professional boxer but decided to go to art school instead.
The first piece of art that I ever sold was actually a drawing. It was sold to Aaron Brothers Galleries in Los Angeles, California. They were a very large art dealer with about 14 or 15 locations all over the country. At the time I was holding down a full time job and still in art school attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles (it’s now in Pasadena) which at the time was located not far from the Aaron Bros. Galleries main location and headquarters. One day on my way to the Art Center I decided to stop by Aaron Bros. warehouse and main Gallery and show my portfolio. Mr. Al Aaron himself took the time to look at my art. I remember being very scared. I was sure that he would look at my work and tell me to finish art school and then come back when I had more experience etc. But he told me that he liked my art as much as any that he had ever seen, I couldn’t believe what I had heard, I thought there must be someone else in the room.
For the next two years with a wife and 4 sons I continued going to The Art Center College of Design and painted for Aaron Bros. Galleries. I slept 3 to 4 hours. a night and never took a day off and it almost killed me but I loved every minute of it, I WAS AN ARTIST. Aaron Bros. Galleries published many prints of my drawings and paintings during this period.
Mr. Aaron gave me my start and I will never forget him. Al Aaron was always “Mr. Aaron” to me.
A lot has happened since those early years, my wife Ellen and I divorced, our youngest son Jerry died when he was 6 years old leaving an empty place in all of our hearts that will always be with us. Carole and I were married in 1976 and have been together ever since. She retired from a successful career at the University of Oregon and is very highly respected. . All of our sons have grown up to be fine men and we are so proud of them all. We have the most wonderful grand children in the world who bring more joy to us than I can say.
My grandson Trevor was born in 2002, he’s posed and modeled for almost every painting I’ve done since and is the most wonderful person in the world as are Lily who was born in 2006 and Jack who was born in 2009, they have all posed for me and I love them all so very, very much.
Here I am in my studio. This is the studio that I envisioned having when I was that boy of 13 painting “The Old Barbershop” all those years ago. Carole decided that we should go ahead and have it built before I was to old to enjoy it. Completed in June 1992, a 2000 square foot space, 16’ foot high ceiling and very large windows with north light. I also have a fireplace, so it’s really cozy in the winter.
In the early part of my career I painted in living rooms with the kids climbing over me and I once had a basement studio where the ceiling was only a foot or two over my head. Every artist dreams of having a studio like this someday.
I’ve been strongly moved and influenced while reading other artists philosophies about art. But when it comes down to actually creating meaningful art, we are each alone with our own truths, feelings, and emotions. What is right to each of us is the only right that there is.
Art for me is a continuous search. When I was young and starting out as an artist I wanted to learn everything I could. I wanted to know exactly what I was doing but every time I finished a painting it never met up to my expectations and I felt like a failure. As time went by it didn’t get any easier and I still didn’t understand what I was doing. When I heard the joke, “By the time I found out I had no talent it was to late; I was already famous” it scared the heck out of me. Then one day I was watching TV and I happened to catch Allan Alda giving the commencement speech at his daughter’s graduation and he said a sentence that changed my life: “CREATIVITY IS NEVER QUITE KNOWING WHAT YOU’RE DOING.” I then realized that it’s not desirable to know exactly what I’m doing and I’ve never looked back.
Merit Awards, the Mill Pond Press Award, and the "People's Choice" Award- 1981- 88- 93- 98- 2001-02- 07 and 2010 at the Western Rendezvous of Art
• The Favell Museum's 1993 Western Heritage Award for excellence in portraying realistically and accurately early Americana.
• My paintings also appear in the permanent collections of the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon, the U.S. Marshall Historical Society, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and The Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
• Articles about my career and myself have appeared in Southwest Art, Art West, Art of the West and American Artist magazines.
• U.S. Art magazine named me a "Hall Of Fame" Inductee in 1992, and listed my limited edition print "Favorite Gift" as the number 20 best seller of that year.
• I was also named as one of the top 20 favorite artists in a U.S. Art magazine poll of gallery owners.
• I’m listed in Contemporary Western Art, published by Southwest Art.
• I’m also an elected member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group of Artists
I presently exhibit at Lahaina Galleries and at art shows throughout the country.
• My work has been published in limited edition prints for over 40 years, by such publishers as Mill Pond Press and The Greenwich Workshop.
• I now publish my own Giclée prints with Lahaina Galleries.
My work is used as illustrations in the following books,
• “Mother, I Love You” published by Baker House Books;
• A number of books published by Harvest House Publishers including “What Little Boys are Made Of”.
• "Sugarbush Spring” published by Lothrop, Lee and Shephard, a division of William F. Morrow (now Harper Collins Publishing).
• “Sugarbush Spring” was selected by the Ohio Farm Bureau to receive their 2002 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Award for Children’s Literature.