Frequently Asked Questions
How long have you been painting? Answer: I have been painting since childhood in the early 1950's.
Is it hard to paint a portrait of someone? Answer: No. There is a lot of work and concentration needed, but it really isn't difficult. The difficult part is in deciding on the design.
How long does it take to complete a painting? Answer: It varies from a few hours to several months. A typical 22x30 highly detailed watercolor painting with a lot of dry-brush work will take about 160 hours. A really large painting, such as the 6-foot oil painting Tiger's Flight, may take a year or more.
How did you get the eagle pictures that you used to paint Tiger's Flight? Answer: The eagle trainers at Auburn University helped me by having trained eagles fly for me. I would sit on the ground with a small piece of meat on the ground in front of me. The trainer would stand behind me and call the bird, who would fly to the food with wings and feet spread. All this time, I was clicking photos. I went to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to make photos for the background.
Do you paint commissioned portraits? Answer: Sometimes, but not often. I enjoy doing them, but don't actively seek them.
Who taught you to paint? Answer: No one. I had to learn by trial and error. Even though I have art degrees, I never had any professors who taught me how to paint. I'm not sure they even knew how themselves. This is the sorry state of today's art world, where slinging paint and being weird are valued over actually having painting skills.
Which is more important - talent or training? Answer: Talent is very important. However, without the skills that only come through years of practice, talent alone is worthless.
What is your favorite painting that you have done? Answer: That's a difficult one. I think my most successful painting, speaking as an art critic, is Southern Gentleman. I don't think it is without shortcomings, however. I would like to try and paint something else with that same theme, but make some improvements.
Where do you get ideas for your paintings? Answer: Ideas come to me while daydreaming, or, believe it or not, while asleep. Sometimes I dream about a picture, and wake up and sketch it. If it is of a person, I have to find someone to pose for it. That's not always easy.
Where do you find models for your paintings? Answer: It varies. Sometimes I know someone and ask them to pose for me. Sometimes they are complete strangers who agree to pose. For example, I met John Reeves, the basket maker, at a craft show and asked him to let me paint him. He agreed, and the rest is history.
Do you pay your models for posing? Answer: Not usually. Most people are glad to do it. Some of my subjects have turned down money. Sometimes I give them a piece of art to show my appreciation for their work. I gave Mr. Reeves an oil portrait of him and Mrs. Reeves to show my appreciation. He always refused money.