What lies beneath

Here is my basement studio, complete with hazards. I fear that one day I'll trip over something and fall into one of my paintings. I've already banged my head on a nail and spent the next hour bleeding and trying to not fall asleep.

Apologies to Don Quixote

Nearly 20 years ago, I drove across the country to San Diego and back. I spent a fair amount of time in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, mostly by choice. The desert has its fair share of life-threatening issues, but nothing can compete with the level of beauty it possesses.

There is nothing in the way -- the sky starts on one side of the road and ends on the other. The sheer vastness and openness of the place gave me comfort.

It's a feeling I try to recreate with my paintings of windmills and barns. This is the first of at least three I plan to paint. I was very pleased with the drama and emotion of this painting -- a certain warmth to the end of a long day, and a nagging apprehension about a change in the weather on the horizon.

Birds of a feather

One of the best things about creating artwork on a computer is the ability to easily change colors, arrangements and size without having to redraw, repaint or risk ruining the original. With my simple bird design I was able to easily change the background color and create a blueprint for a series of paintings. As much as I enjoy the original version of the bird painting (with green background), I enjoy the series of three even more.

Each of these paintings has sold.

About the bird

Once I finished my fishing port painting, I moved directly on to a new subject: birds. I really love birds. However, every drawing I have done of a bird looks sadly silly.

One afternoon, I was goofing around in Photoshop, when I used a few simple shapes to create a bird. I drew a branch and dropped in a green background.

"I like this," I said, and I set about painting it.

It's about time

Nearly seven years ago, I started a painting of a fishing port. As it does with so many enjoyable things, life stepped in and stood between me and the canvas. Life also yanked my paintbrush from my hand and ate it. It then sucked dry every oil paint tube I had. Eventually, life would also sell my tall easel at a yard sale. But I kept the unfinished painting and stored it away in the attic.

Years later, my desire to paint was rekindled. I believed I had earned life's respect and was now in a better position to negotiate my time. And so, with a $300 A.C. Moore giftcard in hand, I would replenish my oil painting supplies. I was intent on finishing my fishing port painting.

Life shrugged and basically agreed to let me keep my supplies, but refused to relinquish my time. My unfinished fishing port painting rested in the attic, while $300 worth of art supplies sat in a tackle box in the basement.

Two more years would pass before I would announce to my wife, "I want to paint."
"You should," she said, "right after you list stuff on Craigslist."

I did just that. My wife also said I should set up my easel in the dining room. However, I knew what would happen: My easel would sit unused. I would grow frustrated with seeing the paints, canvas, brushes and easel and not being able to use them. It would get in the way and, eventually, it would all be moved: First, into the corner, then into the closet; then to the basement.

I decided to save myself some frustration and clear out a space in our dark, cold, dirty and damp basement.

I have finished my fishing port painting: It's a beautiful scene of simple paradise. Not quite like my basement.