Humble Art Beginnings

My earliest saved art – July 1969

I feel compelled by Judith, over at Artistcoveries, to post these “works”… my earliest saved plein art pieces – which my mom proudly pasted into the family photo memory album at the time. There were other artworks – both plein air and studio – I remember doing prior to these, but those weren’t kept… for unknown reasons. Beyond these three, I don’t actually have any other art from my youth, high school, or college years left remaining; much of it was lost, thrown away, given away, or stolen during my many moves over the years. I now wish that I’d retained my earlier work, but life happens.

The top image was painted in July 1969, during a summer vacation we had at the La Grulla Gun Club, a favorite hangout of the wealthy down near Ensenada – in Baja, Mexico. A well-heeled great cousin (great-great-cousin?) paid for my parents and me to join her on her annual retreat there, and art supplies were one of the things available to keep youngsters like me occupied. I was 8-years-old at the time, and I only vaguely remember painting this plein air landscape. Instead, I remember more clearly that some kid a little older than me got his hand badly injured by fireworks while we were there, and later eating an abalone steak in a local restaurant that was real thick and the size of a dinner plate – something which is unheard of these days.

The middle image, below, I drew outside with pastels that my mom bought for me, just before my 10th birthday. From a young age I was focused on making art that looked reasonably close to what I could see with my own eyes, and that included perspective. Luckily for me, my mom – an artist herself – decided to push me in the direction of art at a pretty early age.

A drawing of our house – June 1971

This last image, below, was one I made while taking a dedicated summer art class in an old two-room school house – the class being a gift for my 10th birthday. If you compare this drawing against the pastel drawing above, there’s a definite improvement to be seen, even with just a few short weeks of focused instruction. I remember my art instructor being impressed, because the other kids in our small class were still doing 2D drawings. We lived in Idaho Falls at the time, and the classes were in Shelley, a small town to the south of us; I’ve tried to find that old school house since then, but I guess that it’s long gone now.

From my first official art class – August 1971

My art continued to improve over time… initially progress was slow, then by late middle-school I began to improve by leaps and bounds. Once I reached high school and was able to take mechanical and architectural drafting, then my drawing skills – especially with perspective – really took off.


Painting info:
Landscape – La Grulla Gun Club, Ensenada , Baja, Mexico –July 1969
White House – Idaho Falls, Idaho – June 1971
Two-room schoolhouse – Shelley, Idaho –August 1971
Poster paints and oil pastels
Art paper
11”x14”

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