In 1998, I decided I wanted to try my hand at painting. I actually don’t recall what led me to this idea, but I tend to be a bit impulsive, so if the idea popped into my head I probably acted on it. At the time, I was a co-founder and Vice President for an Internet startup. We were still trying to figure out exactly what the company would do, so I had some free time on my hands.
I had taken art classes in high school and showed some aptitude. My older sister is an artist and I was always intimidated by my inability to keep up with her so I never pursued art outside of the classroom. I also never attempted anything as ambitious as painting with oils or acrylics.
As I said in my “about me”, I’m an engineer by training. More specifically, I’m a computer scientist — some engineers would take issue with me calling myself an engineer, but you get the idea. I’m a logical thinker and I approach problems in a specific way. Painting was no different. I went to a local craft store and bought some acrylic paints, brushes and canvas paper. I think I also bought a plastic palette that was covered and would keep paints wet for a few days. I didn’t know if I would be any good at painting so investing in actual stretched canvases seemed frivolous. I then began to experiment to see how paints worked.
I had a photograph I’d recently taken of a dogwood blossom. I decided that would be my subject. I practiced mixing colors and testing brush strokes. I wasn’t sure how to capture the background. The photo was focused on the blossom so the background was blurry. I decided to just paint it dark green with some slightly contrasting leaves. The leaves and the blossom in the foreground I painted in more detail. Interestingly enough, I ended up liking the painting, and I was encouraged to continue. I guess that’s a good thing because I now derive great pleasure from painting.
At some point later I actually had that first painting framed and gave it to my mother as a gift. Because it was on cheap canvas paper I had to have it mounted on a board. It ended up looking pretty nice as you can see from the photograph. Both digital photography and my skills at photographing paintings have improved a lot since the 1990s, but you get the idea.
So this is how my journey from engineer to artist began and it continues…