MY LIFE WITH ART
I have always been fascinated by these three things: ridin’, ropin’, and paintin’. I find many things similar in these three art forms. The challenges are always present in all three. Nobody rides every horse, nobody catches every cow, and nobody makes a masterpiece every time. I am satisﬁed to concentrate on the art form of painting, drawing and sculpture at the present. Sharpening the fundamentals of draftsmanship, composition, values of form, color studies of Chihuahuan light, paint quality, perspective, anatomy and proportions are something that will keep me busy through this lifetime. I love the problems of creating a picture that someone can relate to and feel connected to. This is a means of communications that has been around since the first cave wall artist. Expressing oneself is always a challenge, but it can be hopeless if you don’t have anything to say.
I do understand that it can be very challenging to recreate one of God’s beautiful creations and it is truly great to share this with someone. My life has been a combination of the people I have worked with and their connection to God’s Country. Not to mention his animals. The stories are endless and all are worthy of consideration for a painting or drawing. Accuracy and knowing your subject matter is important to be convincing and hold the viewers eye while it moves around the composition of the painting.
I would like for all of my paintings to be completely believable by the viewer, but have the look of knowing it would be impossible to get this shot from a camera. I appreciate the beauty of paint and all the fundamentals of the creative process. Human interest and humor are always a great ingredient.
I do get asked how did I start as an artist?
I grew up an average red blooded American Christen Boy. I was all cowboy, hunter, with a little art thrown in. None of my passions had anything to do with being a Marine or military connection. This was in the early sixties and lots of unrest was going on, but none of it affected me, I was on ranches after high school never dreaming that the draft board could find me in the likes of the Bow and Arrow Cattle Co. on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. But it came to a screeching halt in Sept. 1965 when I had to show up on the yellow footprints at MCRD, San Diego, Calif.
Prior to going to Boot Camp I saw an advertisement for art classes via correspondence . It was called “Famous Artist School”. I passed the entrance exam and they started taking my monthly check and sending me all the books and instructions to follow. I started right away and was several months into the lessons when I went to boot camp.
At that time the USMC was gearing up heavily for Viet Nam. They cut boot camp to 8 weeks from 12 and then to Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton for 4 weeks. They had ships and planes ready to delivery you directly to I Corp just below the DMZ in Viet Nam. I was delayed in order to attend Radio School . Upon completion I was sent to Whiskey Battery 1-13 as a radio operator and we sailed for Viet Nam. That is me on the first row, bottom left.
Lots of moving back and forth across the DMZ, no boredom , no explanation, just get it done.
The last of my tour we ended up at Khe Sanh, we moved there just after the hill fights in summer of 1967 and I stayed on hill 881 South until Dec 1967 just before the TET started in Jan. 1968. We were busy along the DMZ . We were a good outfit and should have stayed together, along with every other outfit, until we finished the Viet Nam Conflict. Lots of lives were lost learning the ropes and the experienced were shipped home never truly sharing their experiences in order to teach others how to survive the citation.
I had been a christen all my life, but this is were I got to meet God. All of the emotions of Combat are complex without God. I wasn’t afraid to die, but I wanted to know why. I wasn’t sure why we were all in the Viet Nam conflict, but I was all Marine and All American, so I didn’t question, but I prayed hard to God for the first time and the answer he gave me was yes you may die here in this hill top tonight but this is the first day of eternity and I will take care of you from now on…Amen!
I came home to what I thought would be utopia, but with surprise, I needed God as much or even more than I did in the middle of the Viet Nam Conflict and I call on him constantly to help me and others I come in contact with.
My art lessons really had been postponed while I was overseas, but upon return to USA, I was stationed at Marine Corp Supply Depot in Albany, Georgia . I had plenty of time for art and I did doulple time with my lessons. It was great and had a perfect start to learning how to draw and compose pictures. Great instructors from all the Commercial Art Profession. From Norman Rockwell to Harold Von Smidth. I was able to follow up with other great opportunities to study art, but these initial art lessons opened the doors later on for me.
So if someone ask me about going to Viet Nam and how harsh and horrible was it …………I tell them that it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Service Years 1965-1968