Forget the Lighthouse, It’s the Waves, Baby!

I forgot where this lighthouse is, but that’s really inconsequential to me. The true focus of this painting is the crashing waves against the shore.

Can you hear the thunder, then the hiss? Can you smell the salt in the air?

It’s all pretty awesome to behold … unless you’re out on the ocean without a lighthouse and can hear the crashing waves, you just can’t see them.

There is an old saying about how there’s nothing in the dark you haven’t seen in the light. I’m most cases that is true. However, without a light to illuminate those things so beautiful in the day, the night can be terrifying – and deadly.

John 8:12 (KJV)
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

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11×14 inch watercolor on cold pressed paper

“Not for Sale” (but it is!)

All of us have done it. We’ve all driven down a road and come across a classic car sitting in a yard just wasting away, wondering how much the owners would take for it (assuming we could do anything with it).

Some of us may have stopped, walked up to the door, rang the doorbell, and boldly asked, “How much would you take for the car in your yard?”

What is the typical response? “Oh, it’s not for sale; I plan on restoring it.”

You and I both know the truth – the classic in the yard will most likely turn to dust.

Well, there’s a car like that just around the corner from where I live. It’s a Nash Metropolitan sitting under a small tree in the front yard of what appears to be a quadraplex. It looks like it’s been there a good while because it’s obvious the process of decay has robbed the classic of any hope of restoration.

I can’t help but wonder how many times someone stopped and tried to buy the little car. I wonder when they stopped asking. I wonder if the one who planned on “fixing it up” is even alive.

In order to create this watercolor painting, I turned into the driveway next to where this car sits and took a few photos. I didn’t offer to buy it. Even though I’m not into restoring cars, the visible rust led me to believe the effort would not be worth it.

What IS FOR SALE is the painting!

Or, if you’d like a print, I can certainly hook you up 🙂

My First Tennessee Painting

It has been a good while since I last posted, and for that I apologize. On the other hand, what do I have to apologize for? Moving was a difficult and traumatic experience which not only took up a lot of my time, but also left me with no place to paint.

However, after some time passed and some arrangements were made, I was finally able to get back to painting. It was refreshing, for sure, but it was also very intimidating. Not only was I low on confidence; I was lacking inspiration.

That when I decided to drive around the neighborhood to look for something to paint. I didn’t know what I’d find, but around one corner I stumbled upon a tractor. It took a second for it to register, but once my mind realized that would be fun to paint, I found a place to turn around and went back to talk with the owner. I got permission to take some photos and, in a few days, went to work.

It’s not my best work, but at least I’m painting again!

The Imagined Image of Home

Have you ever had fond memories of places that look nothing like what you remember? That’s happened to me. Like when you go back to your elementary school 50 years later and think, “Wow! This place is a lot smaller than I remember!”

Well, the acrylic painting I just finished (and I’m not very good with acrylic) is of where I grew up – at least it’s what I remember.

When I was younger, we lived on the Tennessee River in a community called “Suck Creek.” Click on this link and you can read more about it in my other blog.

After having moved away many years ago, I imagine standing in our front yard and watching boats go up and down the river. I can remember watch rain move toward me like a wall creeping in my direction. I remember an unobstructed view of the bend in the river as it worked its way through the Tennessee River Gorge.

But if you were visit this same place today, it looks nothing like the painting. Why is that?

Because I wanted to memorialize the ideal, not the reality. When I’m dead and gone, this painting will help my children and grandchildren see what I remember, or rather the imagined best of what I remember. The ideal. The sense. The longing of home.

Acrylic on Canvas

An Iron Staircase Trifecta

A while back I took some photos of an old fire escape in Sandersville, Georgia. It’s pretty well known in the area because of its proximity and obviously intricate ironwork.

It then occurred to me that I could paint different angles of the iron staircase, thereby increasing the chances of selling more than one, if not all three of the prints.

I must say, though, that this was the first time I had ever attempted something so complicated and intricate. Not only was it difficult to replicate the spiral in the spiral staircase, not to mention the actual intricate ironwork, but painting the color “black” is not as simple as one might think!

Yes, I understood how that trying to paint snow and clouds is always going to be hard, partly because there is no such thing as “white” snow or “white” clouds; there are ALWAYS more colors at play. But I never really thought of “black” being as complicated as it was.

Finally, since I recently resigned from the church I pastored in Warthen, it seems like these paintings will be the last done of scenes from the area. That does make me sad, but for me to paint something, there needs to be some motivation. Now that we are most likely moving away from the area, it stings too much right now to invest my emotions into any more reminders.

But if you are a fan, don’t worry. I don’t plan on quitting art; I’m just changing scenery.

The Easiest Color to Paint?

Just recently, I was at the Farmer’s Market in Dublin, GA, when an older couple stopped by my table. As they were looking at my paintings, the wife half-whispered to her husband, “You should ask if he could do one of your car.”

Having done a few vehicles, I couldn’t help but ask what kind of car he had. Believe it or not, it was on old Nash Metropolitan. If you don’t know what one of those are, here is a photo. It was a sub-compact before the word was ever coined.

1959 Nash Metropolitan

We got to talking about his car, which is always fun to do – talk with people about their classic cars – and I asked him, “How does it ride?” “Like a two-wheeled cart,” he replied.

But when we got to talking about doing a painting of the Metropolitan, he said, “I don’t know, it would be a hard color.”

“Oh, really? What color is it?” I asked.


I laughed and said, “That’s no problem, white is the easiest color! That’s the color of the canvas! All I have to do is add shading.”

Watercolor on 9×12″ stretched canvas

And that’s the honest truth! Granted, if one wanted to get really picky and demanded that the color of the white be identical to the white on the subject of the painting, then we might have an issue. As you can see in the painting of the lift truck I did for EMC, the tricky part was to recreate the curves and create depth with shadow. I didn’t have to worry about whether the “white” was actually Windsor or Distressed Eggshell.

So, yeah, I like painting things that are white. Maybe the old gentleman will give me a call. I hope so. My painting skills have improved since I painted the bucket truck.

I might even try something daring, like a snow-covered field. Because, after all, white IS just white, correct?

I make myself laugh.

It’s All in a Name

Recently I finished an unnamed painting using acrylic paint. Since I began painting back in 2020, I’ve always used watercolor, but rarely acrylic. Watercolor has always been preferrable due to the ability to blend colors and correct my mistakes.

Speaking of mistakes, nearly a year’s worth of mistakes is what ultimately led to this painting. After successfully completing a commissioned work of “Doolittle Pond,” the owner of the property asked if I could do a painting of his chestnut orchard. I happily agreed, but what followed was nothing but frustration.

Remember, I haven’t been at this for very long and my abilities are not as great as some might think. Therefore, in a moment of believing the hype, I accepted the challenge not knowing how difficult a realistic painting of actual trees would be! I went about the usual steps I take to create a painting, then launched into it with anticipation. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned. What I wound up with were two completely embarrassing and failed attempts to earn a commission, along with a stained and now worthless 16×20″ stretched canvas.

Then, a week or so ago I sat looking at that pitiful canvas, a green-and-blue-stained failure complete with the scraggly black beginnings of chestnut tree trunks and limbs. In an instant of inspiration (or maybe desperation) I thought, “I could cover all that with some acrylic paint!” I mean, seriously, even if it was a total disaster, at least I could have fun creating something “off the wall” while recycling a canvas!

Funny thing, what started off as an “off the wall” endeavor is now ON the wall in our living room! The first moment my wife laid eyes on it she said, “I love it.” So, it became a keeper. As a matter of fact, I don’t even think I’ll make prints.

But as I was holding this painting in the frame, just as I was about to take it into the living room to hang on the wall, I stood and admired it with my wife. The feeling was sort of surreal, honestly. It was like I was holding a masterpiece I could never afford, yet there it was.

I said, “You know what, Valerie? The only thing that separates this painting from those that might cost a fortune is that thing right there . . . the signature. If only it was a Picasso, it would be worth millions.”

Honestly, this painting may not be on the level of the great masters’, but had it only been a splotch of paint on the canvas, and one put there by Leonardo DaVinci, it wouldn’t matter the composition.

Yet, what is human life? Each life is a creation of the greatest artist in the universe and one-of-a-kind. Sure, some may seem worthy to be viewed and admired by all, while others are nothing more than a splotch of color on an outline of what is planned. But would we through away a single scribble if it were made by Monet or van Gogh?

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

– King David, Psalm 139:14

We are not valuable because of our beauty. We are priceless because we bear the signature of the Divine.

A Truck in Mitchell, GA

9’x12″ watercolor and gouache on cold-pressed paper

In a little town called Mitchell, GA, there is a building with half a truck attached to it.

It’s a 1954 Cheverolet. I don’t know what else to say about it, except I don’t think this is what an engineer in Detroit had in mind.

I Don’t Do Portraits

My Granddaughter, Emma Louise

I Don’t Do Portraits

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked, “Do you do portraits?” Every time my answer is the same . . . “No, not if you want it to look like somebody.”

Fact is, I know I’m just an amateur artist. It’s easy in this stage of my learning to draw and paint “things,” but people are different. When you can paint people, you can paint.

Regardless, for our 38th wedding anniversary this week, I painted a portrait of our granddaughter, Emma. I did it for my wife, and she LOVED it. Emma’s mom (our daughter) was both pleased and sad.

As she described it, if I do portraits for future grandchildren, I will have improved by then, leaving Emma’s as the worst of the bunch. LOL.

Oh well.

Where I’ve Never Been

Not too long ago, a friend asked if I would paint a nighttime sky for him. He said, “I’ll give you $10.” “Sure,” I replied, leaving him shocked.

A few weeks later, while I was working on another painting, he reminded me of our conversation and showed me a screen saver on his computer, one with a mountain, snow, and a starry nighttime sky. He asked, “Can you do something like this?”

Well, the painting you see here is of a scene that resembles the one in the screen saver photo, but it’s not an exact replica. I did the foreground a little differently, for one thing.

The thing I wanted to accomplish in this piece was an evenly dark sky and realistic-looking snow. I also wanted the mountain to look as real as possible. What I did not anticipate was how getting the darkness of the sky correct lent to a real lighting effect on the mountain. It’s like it almost glows!

I’ve never been to a place like the one in this painting, but I would love to visit there one day. Cool, clean air, clear streams, and a majestic mountain dominating the view. But for now, my friend has a nice painting for $10 and I will have prints.

Want one?

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