I was born on a small farm in Southeastern South Dakota in 1949. We lived about 50 miles from Sioux Falls. I was one of seven children, three brothers and three sisters. When I was seven, we moved to Sioux Falls where my dad got a job as a mechanic for Caterpillar. When I was fifteen our family moved to Spokane,Washington, where I finished my high school education and graduated in 1967. I went on to college and graduated from Spokane Falls Community College in 1973, with an Applied Arts Degree and a Commercial Art Degree. Other than two years in Pennsylvania, I have continued to live in Spokane since my graduation from college.
I remember, when I must have been quite young, watching my older brother Greg draw. He was good. In the third grade our teacher taught us perspective, how to make a road go back and disappear into the mountains. I never forgot how to do that. When I was seven or eight years old, our family took a trip to Wisconsin to visit a friend of my Dads. He was a professional watercolorist. I remember the drive through the woods, walking up to his front door, through the entry, looking up at the walls as soon as I entered the house. I wanted to see his paintings. Randy Penner. I’ll never forget that name or that trip and the influence it had on me.
In Junior High I took some art, mechanical drawing and enjoyed it. I wrote a career paper on becoming an artist but never really thought that it was possible. In college I decided to major in physical education since I considered an art major unrealistic. The second year I switched to a commercial art major since the community college had a good graphics program. It was during the three years of training to become a commercial artist that I took watercolor. My first watercolor class I got a “C”. The worst grade I had ever received in any art class. I was required to take it again the following year and it went much better. Not only did I get an “A”, but I fell in love with it. I started selling my paintings before I graduated for as little as $2. In the fall of 1973 I had made a decision to try to make a living as a full time, professional watercolorist and have managed to do that now for more than thirty years.