The smell of oil paint out of the tube is very distinctive. It’s the linseed oil. I have always enjoyed that smell. I think it was Christmas that I received a set of oil paints, about 10 tubes.There was also a canvas panel and it was huge. I believe 18” by 36” I don’t remember the brushes, if there was just one or more, probably a few.I had just turned 11. I would never had remembered this but there was a place on the back of the canvas for the name and age of the artist. I have never again seen a place for age on a canvas panel. The title would be “Canals”, like Mars It had the big red spot. I sold That first painting to my sister Carol for $22. There was also a spot for the price on the back. She gave Canals back to me years later. Somehow I lost it when I moved.
I live in Clinton, Iowa. Clinton is on the Mississippi River surrounded by bluffs carved when the last ice age melted. I have lived here all of my life except on my parents farm when young. I have three children who are on there own and some fish. I would call cooking, gardening and playing music my hobbies.
In my early twenties I started looking for ways to make some extra money. My job was working music stores through the years as the musician who played the pianos and organs for potential customers and church committees. I guess I was always a salesman too but never very good, just loved to play. I found out early I was not cut out for galleries. Your work has to have some consistency. There needs to be a common thread that flows through your work. so the paintings hanging there all look like they came from the same artist. If I had five paintings they looked like they came from five different artist. Different subjects, colors, sizes, techniques. I was always experimenting and finding new ways and new subjects.
I got ahead of myself here so back to trying to make a buck painting. I had just received my first real commission. A home of the mother of one of my music store customers. I painted it and before delivering it to him decided to knock on some doors of the nicer homes in town, maybe I could get another one by showing this one off.
I will never forget this day. I drove into the driveway of this big old rock house. It had gardens of flowers and looked just like a painting already. I noticed a lady working in her flower garden. I got out and introduced myself as a oil painter of homes. I showed her the painting and she thought for awhile while looking it over. Then she said, “I want one of the front of the house and one of the back view. I also have three kids, each with a lovely home here in town. I want to have you paint each of their homes also”. After regaining consciousness I did some very quick math in my head and gave her a price. It all went well and now I had six photos of homes to show and kept the last one painted to hit the streets again.
After a few more paintings of homes I stopped at the arboretum in town. A couple started it and had a beautiful home on the grounds. After showing them a painting they presented an idea they had been kicking around for awhile. They were searching for someone to do an aerial view of the whole place. done as a painting instead of photography. They had the original master plan rolled out before me. It was very large. It took the whole table. The painting would be the same size. 4 foot by 8 foot. It would be used in their classroom to teach children about the place before touring them around the grounds. I left with the blueprint, It was a big project. I would take sections of the blueprint and go out and sketch all the trees, bushes and other plants and flowers within that section. I repeated this about 10 times and slowly the place appeared on my 8 by 10 board as if one was looking down at an angle from a plane and rather low. Over the years they added sections and did changes to the place and I would take the board home and update it. Then I painted their house. That painting is shown in the homes gallery. It sits back on the hill with part of the arboretum in front of it showing the big clump of plumes.
So this would be my thing, painting homes, buildings and their landscapes. A few of them are here on the site in homes and building galleries. I lost track of the 4′ by 8′ arboretum photos and wish I had them. I would also do other subjects like riverboats as I live six block from the Mississippi river. Often I would knock on a door and get multiple paintings to do. I was always very reasonable in pricing. I like to always have a painting to work on and keep busy and learning. If you commission a painting your sending me to painting school for a week or more and I’ll never graduate.
A few deals have come my way where I paint a series of paintings for a company or an individual, I enjoy these. A few book covers and misc things. I really like doing the special creations shown in that gallery. It’s a challenge and the real enjoyment is that the person having it done and myself get to bring this along together to completion.
Another subject that is appearing more often in my mail box is copies of paintings. With these I study the painting and try to solve the techniques and methods the original artist may have used. It’s like bringing my studio to the gallery to hang out for a couple of weeks while I paint the painting on the wall.
A few years ago I got asked to do a one man show here in Clinton. I gathered up all the paintings I had done over the years for fun and still owned. There were about 35 paintings and even though it was all of my work. To me it appeared like three or four artist were putting this show on. Realism, modern Surreal, even some impressionistic, oh well.
Back when the internet arrived it changed everything! Now I would get all types of commissions, every subject imaginable and I love it. I get to send paintings to all parts of the country, Canada and sometimes Europe. In 2008 I quit my job to paint full time. Many oil painters are gallery painters and this takes discipline to present yourself in a unified manner. For me it’s different. It’s like I have been riding a train all night sleeping. Morning has arrived and the curtain is still down as I awake. You don’t know what is going to be outside that window when I open the curtain. That window is your email with a photo or two you sent me. I’m anxious to open it and see what adventure awaits me and to squirt some paint out and smell the linseed oil.