My Painting Journey

In 2016, I took my first oil painting class from Larry and Pam Smith of Two Smith Gallery in downtown Duluth. Previously, I had only painted walls and furniture. I was somewhat afraid of the effort, as I never considered myself a good freehand drawer and worried considerably about the proportions. Fortunately, they taught me how to “grid” my canvas which helped me to rough in my painting. Once that was out of the way, my years of detailed cosmetic dental work helped me tremendously with shapes and color. I have truly enjoyed the learning process, which will likely go on forever. Experimenting with different styles and subjects keeps it interesting. I give great credit to my teachers for their expertise and patience with me. They make the learning experience fun. I have a new hobby to keep me busy for years to come!

The following is a guide to the oil paintings hanging in my office with a brief description of what and where the subject was from. Enjoy!

The Fruit Bowl

The Fruit Bowl

This is the first painting I ever did when I started taking painting lessons in 2016. My art instructors start everyone with this to learn shapes, color and blending. Being my first painting, it has a special place in my heart.
—Jan 2016

Hobbiton MarinaHobbiton Marina

My second painting ever – and I “almost” bit off more than I could chew. This is from a picture I took in New Zealand while touring the film set for the Hobbit. Doing this painting made me realize that my detail tendencies from dentistry carried over into painting. I dabbled in water reflections, wood and stone work. It remains one of my most favorite works.
—Feb 2016

Gollum’s PoolGollum’s Pool

Actually, Tawhai Falls in New Zealand. If you saw “The Two Towers” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you may recognize this as the pool where Gollum was eating a fish on a rock with Faramir’s archers sighting in on him. It remains the only painting I did at home instead of class, and made the mistake of painting detail in the distance rather than the foreground – opposite of what is taught.
—March 2016

Lake HarrisLake Harris

New Zealand has several of the best hikes in the world. This picture was taken about 7-8 miles up the Routeburn Track at the “Harris Saddle”, one of the highest points on the trail. Once again I got a little too “detail” oriented on this, but I learned a lot about mountains and shadowing.
—April 2016

Harbour TownHarbour Town

Hilton Head has long been a favorite of ours. Since I started painting, I actively look for pictures to take that are “paintable”. Early one morning before the wind picked up I got this photo with the reflections in the water. The sailboat was actually a boat in Seattle – I substituted it for a big power launch that was in the original photo. Artistic license!
—June 2016

East Point HouseEast Point House

This is my maternal grandparent’s farmhouse near Cullman, Alabama – where my mother was brought up and I have many wonderful memories. I did this version from parts of several old pictures, because the house I remembered had been wrapped in green asbestos tile and had a new front porch. My mom always said she liked it better this way, so this painting was a Christmas gift for her.
—October 2016

1941 Ford Truck1941 Ford Truck

I found this old truck in a petting zoo barnyard in Alaska. I painted the truck, then took artistic license and painted a different backdrop – just a made up landscape.
—January 2017

Bag EndBag End

The Hobbit Holes
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)
If you are ever in New Zealand and have a chance to visit the movie set for the Hobbit – go early in the day. We made it before other tour groups clogged the views. If you are a movie fan of the Lord of the Rings, you will recognize Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo’s hole) and Sam and Rosie Cotton’s place.
—January and February 2017

Sam and Rosie Cotton’s Hobbit HoleSam and Rosie Cotton’s Hobbit Hole

Three Sheep Three Sheep

My first attempt at animals and to “loosen” up my picture by not putting so much detail in the landscape. There are more sheep than people in New Zealand – these guys were by the side of the road and more than willing to pose for me!
—March 2017

Red Sail Boat Red Sail Boat

This is my first “forgery”. Rather than use a photo I had taken, I saw this on a magazine cover and liked it. A definite attempt at looseness and I loved the color / shading challenge.
—April 2017

Buchart Gardens Buchart Gardens

Coastal Lilies
Part of my travels in 2016 led me to the Buchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada and to the coast of Maine. These lily pads were photographed on opposite coasts! I loved the colors and the emotions they stir.
— Johns Creek Summer Serendipity Art Show 2021

Harpswell MaineHarpswell Maine

Bloody Marsh Sunset Bloody Marsh Sunset

From a photo taken by Taylor Brawner (in St. Simons, GA), this was my first attempt to use a palette knife to stay loose. It was fun and freeing. It was accepted into the 2017 Johns Creek Summer Serendipity Art Competition. I didn’t win anything, but gained satisfaction from being accepted. Moral Victory!
—June 2017

East Beach East Beach

From a photo I took in St. Simons at East Beach. I eliminated the lifeguard stand and people (I love artistic license)! This was an experiment at the palette knife for the fence post and incorporating colors that weren’t in the actual fence. This painting was accepted into the 2019 Johns Creek Summer Serendipity Art Show.
—August 2017

Good Morning Sunshine Good Morning Sunshine

One of my patients is a professional photographer (Michael Amos) and he graciously allowed me to paint his photo of sunflowers. This was larger than most of my previous efforts, and straddled the line between loose and detail. It was accepted into the 2018 Johns Creek Summer Serendipity Art Competition.
—October 2017

Beached! Beached!

My sunflower painting took 5 of the 6 weeks of my art classes, so I walked in for the sixth class with no picture, but a sketch of what I wanted to do. My goal was to paint the painting in 3 hours. I did cover the canvas, but took 2-3 hours later at home to tweak it. Though it seems rudimentary, I have received many complements on it. It was fun to “go fast”.
—October 2017

Two Kids Two Kids

After two years of painting I decided to try my first person. What better person to paint than my grandson Kepler? He was about 7 months old in this picture. It was quite the struggle. I changed his sweater color twice. I am most proud of the lamb, and probably couldn’t do it again.
—February 2018

Hank Hank

After the success with the lamb, I decided to paint my “grand-dog” Hank (named for Hank Aaron). The hair was hard, the teeth were easy 🙂 I feel like I captured his “smile” well.
—April 2018

Tides Out Tides Out

I saw a painting in my Mom’s Senior facility and loved it. It was unsigned, so I don’t know who to credit. It was my largest painting ever – 3’ by 5’. It took a LOT of paint and a LOT of time, but it is a very relaxing painting and fits my esthetic room well.
—May 2018

Jenny Jenny

Based on another photo by the incomparable Michael Amos (www.michaelsphotographs.com) – this is a group of Shrimp Boats tucked in for the evening in Darien, GA. Close observation of the middle boat will reveal a bit of a double entendre – if you know movies and my family.
“The most beautiful name in the wide world”
—Feb 2019

Moulton Barn Sunrise Moulton Barn Sunrise

The John Moulton Barn is a historic barn in within the Mormon Row Historic District in the Grand Teton National Park. It is perhaps the most photographed barn in America. I only used one #10 flat brush to do the entire painting – another effort at “looseness”.
—June 2019

A Roman Welcome A Roman Welcome

Painted from a picture I took while wandering the back streets of Rome – a very welcoming place!
—August 2019

Lime Kiln Lighthouse Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Located on San Juan Island – this “primarily” palette knife effort was inspired by its frequent use at the Kois Center, where I am a Clinical Instructor. We have a saying there – “Be a lighthouse, not a lifeboat”. We try to guide the students, not carry them. That is a great motto for many things in life!
—Sept 2019

Partners Partners

Sunflowers only bloom for a few weeks in the summer – but when they do – it is a flurry of activity with the bees and flowers in a symbiotic relationship. The best part of it is that you can get right in there taking pictures and the bees ignore you!
—November 2019

Summer’s Here Summer’s Here

I started this in January…it took me longer than anything else I’ve done – but it was a labor of love (grandkids!). Faces aren’t my thing, and this is the second portrait painting I’ve done (probably won’t do another for a while). This shows them enjoying the outdoors last 4th of July.
– March 2020

Destin Sunset Destin Sunset

Though my family is unabashedly East Coast beach fans, I will concede that the gulf coast has some nice views. Enjoy this sunset!
— Johns Creek Summer Serendipity Art Show 2021

Venetian Blinds Venetian Blinds

Part two of my 9 x 12 Italian series, this was from a photo I took from a gondola in Venice. Beautiful town and colors!
– July 2020

Live Well Farm Live Well Farm

Live Well Farm is an 1835 Farmhouse in South Harpswell, Maine that was repurposed as the best special events place in the NE. The version you’ll see in my office is a Giclée copy – the original is with the owners in Maine.
– September 2020

In October of 2020 I helped my art teachers (Larry and Pam Smith) with the 5th Paint Duluth Event – a Plein Aire event where artist assembled and had to paint outside…not the typical painting from pictures after carefully outlining your painting, but sketching the scene freehand and dealing with changing conditions. I had never done that before, but was encouraged to try it the next year. So to prepare, I attempted something I called “faux plein aire” practice. I took the next 6 week series of lessons and attempted to paint as if I was outside “eyeballing” the scene. I managed 5 paintings, all 11X14. Not all were in 3 hours (my goal) but overall I felt like I got some good practice in and was pretty pleased. Here are the 5 “fake” paintings:

Purple and White Purple and White

I took this picture in South Harpswell, Maine. I loved the contrast between the white outbuilding and the violet flowers. Very peaceful!
—October 2020

Flynt Bridge Flynt Bridge

I got this picture taking a stroll along a river walk on the Flint River in Bainbridge, Georgia. Green and blue make a nice combo.
—October 2020

Marshside Crossing Marshside Crossing

The green and blue combo was carried over with this painting of a bridge crossing over a marsh in Hilton Head.
—November 2020

Jazz Sunset Jazz Sunset

This painting is a sunset view taken when we did a sunset Jazz cruise from the Salty Dog in Sea Pines (highly recommended).
—November 2020

Sunrise Salute Sunrise Salute

The last one was of a sunrise taken from our friend’s house in Maine (taken the week I gave them the farm picture). This couldn’t actually be a plein aire painting…the environment changes too quickly to paint. But hey – I enjoyed it. It pays to be used to getting up early! The flag alone took me a few hours. I like it!
—November 2020

Jenny Jenny

Several years ago I was wandering around Monet’s Garden in Giverny – got a little lost and didn’t know who to turn to. I saw this beautiful lady sitting on a bench, but all she gave me was her phone number…867-5309:)
(A special thanks to Leslie Murphy of Johns Creek Arts Center for her help in painting this).
— February 2021

Happy Hour Happy Hour

Here is a fun little “Happy Hour” painting I just finished. Harbour Town Pier – sunset over Daufuskie.
— April 2021

Alert Alert

The “Alert” – Every time we’ve visited friends in South Harpswell, Maine, we’ve seen this 70ft gaff-rigged schooner that sails out of Bailey Island. I’ve taken many pictures of it, and finally took a few artistic liberties with one to paint this 18 X 24 version. Enjoy the wind in your face!
— May 2021

Fixed Gaze on the Unseen Fixed Gaze on the Unseen

This is my only painting that you won’t find hanging in my office. I did this from a photo taken in Giverny of my best friend and his wife. My friend Chuck fought a long battle with cancer and now lives with Jesus. The painting was a gift for his wife. If you want to know more about his story, reach out to me!
— August 2021

Gelato Gelato

The third in my 9 x 12 Italian series. An amazing thing about Gelato in Italy – it has no calories! Actually, you walk so much to burn them off and can justify some every day! This was coconut and caramel – delicious!
— September 2021

Happy Dance Happy Dance

The fourth and final 9 x 12 in my Italian series. This girl was spinning on a bridge as our gondola glided past. It was a beautiful day and she was very happily dancing.
— October 2021