Saturday, November 29, 2014

Telling Stories With a Paintbrush

Today, I'm thinking of the words to one of my favorite Bread songs "If".  The song so beautifully asks the question, "If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you?" and that makes me think about how powerful the visual image really is.  For thousands of years, man has tried to capture a moment in time on a flat surface using mixtures of minerals and plants to give him or her COLOR.  Now I'm not an art historian, but it is obvious that art has always impacted the human race and has played a very important role in our history.  Good art evokes emotion at the most basic human level.  It will almost always cause one to stop and ponder its meaning or reflect on a distant memory in ones past or a currently pleasure.  

As an artist it is always my goal that each piece I paint tell a story to those that see it.  I am always drawn to subjects or compositions that have a connection to my own past or to things that have great meaning to me.  

I grew up in the woods and hills of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.  My family owned 20 acres of land and 90% of it was covered with thick woods and even thicker, almost impenetrable underbrush.  Poison ivy, chiggers, ticks and copperheads were in abundance and were just a few of the things we had to battle with on almost a daily basis.  Besides dealing with a few pests, my childhood was one of amazing freedom to use my imagination, to run, to climb and just to just be free to play.  I loved being outdoors and would frequently take long walks up the gravel road, play in my clubhouse or ride my bike.  

I recall when I was about 13 my dad became concerned about me walking the half mile up the country gravel road to the highway to check the mail each day. With tears and pleading on my part, we were finally to arrive at a suitable compromise-I had to from that point on carry the unloaded shot gun with me to act as a deterrent in the event that some unknown criminal element would be traveling down the road and might wish to do me harm.  My how times have changed in 40 years!

Last week I decided after seeing a couple of pictures that my photographer son had taken of my grandson walking in a field of very tall grass that I had to try to capture that youthful spirit with my own paintbrush.  I thought about my childhood and that of my children and grandchildren.  How much more complicated just living is in 2014 than in 1974.  

This world has become very scary and I fear from my grandchildren but for this moment my grandson is simply being a little boy on an adventure as little boys have been doing for hundreds of years.  I could imagine he was hunting for some hidden foe or enemy.  Perhaps he is hunting for a deer or a wild turkey to bring home for his dinner.  Maybe he is just hunting for grasshoppers.  It could be a vast number of possibilities, but I decided to give my composition a stick in his hand because almost all boys will pick up a stick and make it a pretend sword or spear while out on an adventure in the tall grass.

I decided to call my piece "Slaying Dragons" and I must be on the right track because shortly after posting my last blog entry I received these two emotional comments on my Facebook page about this painting and I just wanted to share them with you today and I hope you too enjoy my little STORY!

Fellow Missourian and artist:

  • Larry Smail reminds me of me as a boy!

  • Julie Diveley Townsend actually Larry Smail it reminds me of my childhood growing up in Missouri too. I was spent a lot of time exploring our 20 acres of woods and hills. Spent my summers building forts and going on pretend adventures.
    Larry Smail we had great lives as youth!!!!!!!!!

 Artist and fellow student of master artist Jerry Yarnell:

  • Jeff Riddle My mind is a whirlwind of Mideviel Engish folklore and tales of great adventures, brutal battles and the triumph good over evil. You've done such wonderful work that you not only captured my attention and drawn me into the painting, you sent my mind on a journey back in time when I was that little boy. Totally awesome. If my brain ever slows down enough where I can jot down my thoughts I'll share it with you. Nothing better than a little story to go with your work. I occasionally do that with my woodcarvings.

"Slaying Dragons" is an original acrylic painted on a 10" x 10"gallery wrapped canvas and will be available along with many of my other pieces on my website at

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