I was never an artistic kid. It’s a pretty common story, really—at some point in school, I decided I wasn’t good at art. To be fair, I probably wasn’t. Once I made that decision, I didn’t do any art at all, though I always admired people who could paint and draw. And I wished I knew how.

Then one Christmas, my wife got me a set of oil paints, some canvases, and brushes. “You need a new creative hobby,” she said. By this time, I was old enough not to let not being good at something get in the way of doing it. So I started in. I let go of all judgement about good, bad, who was a ‘real’ artist and who wasn’t. I just played. Just. Played.

It was a fun game, figuring out how to use a completely different part of my brain. My inside space strained out to new borders. I noticed things I wouldn’t have seen before. Like the way everyone’s eyes have a little spark of light in them. Or how close-up things are clearer and more colorful than far away things. Or the way my mind makes faces out of anything even close to a face.

Before long, I was painting a lot. I discovered that there were things I wanted to communicate that I couldn’t use words for. Painting became the way I shared those things.

Then, another Christmas, my wife got me a camera. “You need a new creative hobby,” she said.

My wife is very wise.

An early self portrait. I’m messy sometimes. That’s ok.
Trees in the sunrise. Sometimes I’m a bit shaky when I hold the camera. You use what you got.