Two boys from Wisconsin, painters, brothers, baseball fans. Brought together to share the joy of painting en plain air. Celebrating the wild and unique landscape of the big Island of Hawaii. Over twenty paintings created in ten days of exploration and hard work. Filled with the wonder of seeing things unseen —unimagined. Under the spell of a saturated blue sea and an ever cooling breeze.
About a year ago I started to reacquaint myself with my older brother Scott. He’s lived an interesting life, spending time in Italy and England, visited Africa, the Mid East, even South America. We were both born in Rice Lake Wisconsin, a small town then in the northern part of the state. My grandfather owned a small Ford dealership there. We only lived there for a short time but our returning visits in the summers developed a fascination in both of us for the water and less civilized areas. In contrast to my wondering brother my farthest trip west was to Tijuana Mexico with a bunch of car dealer brats to play a round of golf. I’m 58 and the artist of the family, a designer and painter, with a BFA and my own business, children and grandchildren. He’s 62 and lives with his daughter and few borders in a small house in Wiemea on the big island of Hawaii. He was a guitar playing long haired hippie guy who really had no art training until about fifteen years ago while living in a commune in California. He took some lessons from a local portrait artist and produced some quality work. But caught up in other issues he stopped painting and only recently renewed his work when he moved to Hawaii in 2011. Although I consider myself a painter, my life has been consumed by raising three children and a career as a graphic advertising designer. Like so many of my generation I went the way the wind blew me and did what I had to to make a living. As a young man I was enthralled with painting and painters and have never wanted to be anything else. If you never went to a university to study art you may not realize that very little time is really devoted to true drawing and painting. Ateliers were not a common thing and I for one never even realized they existed. It’s a shame that a whole generation was shorted the education that most of us wanted, the skills we yearned to learn— how to draw accurately and how to paint from life. I don’t blame anyone but myself but I also don’t think that we should be dismissed because we did not cast away everything to become professional artists. Several years ago I discovered plein air. For years I had been dragging my old french easel into the woods and painting landscapes from life. Big paintings, started in the field and finished in my basement on the weekends when I wasn’t working. They are hung on my walls and my children’s walls but they are not what I do now. I’m not sure when I discovered this new movement, this type of painting , this plein air, but when I finally figured it out I was consumed. I took a class here in my home town outside of Atlanta. I decided that I would paint 100 paintings all the same size— 9 x 12”. 100 till I was good enough to show them to people and call myself a plein air artist. That was 254 paintings ago and a few short years. So I was on my way on my personal odyssey to educate myself, to catch up on techniques and other artists plus the business of being a professional painter. Then I found that my brother Scott was doing the same thing 2,400 miles away. I admit that I was a bit miffed by him horning in on my thing. I was also insecure, like most artists—Is he better than me? We started to send emails back and forth with pictures of our work. I’m a professional graphic designer so mine were always well photographed and sized and cropped. His are taken on his camera phone at odd angles. But he’s good and he’s getting better and his paintings are after all of Hawaii! So soon after all this several times a week back and forth communications came the inevitable invitation. “Stay at my house and we’ll paint together, you’re going to love it.”
Anyone with a spouse or partner has to have Hawaii on their bucket list of places to go. Me too. But going on summer vacation, where I spend every spare minute painting is not a new thing to my dear wife. Thank god she has her daughters with her to go and do the things she likes. But going to Hawaii with out your partner would be the end of most relationships. I floated it around a bit, mentioned it under my breath, came up with ways to pay for it, finally I said I wanted to go and I honestly asked her if she would go with me. She hates to fly, she would not tolerate 23 hours in the air. She smiled and said “Go”.
I went. After figuring that October was the optimum weather I bought a 10 day, thousand dollar round trip to Kona Hawaii. I then began to plan in ernest. To take a week off from my business and go anywhere I usually take two iMacs, a printer and a fax machine. In the last few years I’ve been able to ditch the fax machine but I don’t have the luxury having someone fill in for me. My biggest expense was having to upgrade my smart phone and my laptop in order to make the trip. In addition I decided to buy a full set of paint and have it shipped to avoid having any problems traveling with it, 6 60MM tubes of Gamblin—$200 including shipping. I also made twenty linen boards ranging from 9 x 12 to 12 x 24 and shipped them a month before I left, another $200. I contacted all my clients and planned my trip from a Thursday to a Tuesday to avoid missing the most important parts of two work weeks. I planed to keep on Atlanta time as much as I could because I had no choice but to complete quite a bit of work while away. Six hours is the difference and I was able to go to bed in the early evening and wake up at four in the morning and get two or more hours of work in before heading out each morning at 8AM to paint.