From Kansas to Kintyre
Kansas and Kintyre: two places that are about as different as they could be. I’m a Kansas guy, you see, and I only found a home in Scotland later in life. How did I get here? Well, it’s a long story.
I was born in the old Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton, about a half hour north of Wichita. At the time, my family lived in a sweet little house my father had built for my mother. He’d winched up its concrete walls all by himself with a rope and pulley. When I was seven, we moved from the small city of Newton to a wonderful home in the country—another one of my dad’s creations—beside Sand Creek, about a mile north of town. I spent my early years roaming the fields and pastures around our place.
What I lost in easy access to my friends, I gained in a world of outdoor adventure. Practicing stealth, I’d get close to frogs along the banks of our pond or glimpse a deer leap a fence. In summer, I loved to lie down and watch red-tailed hawks circle lazily in the hot sky. This is my childhood legacy to cherish, and it’s also where I started to study the land.
My earliest memories include an insatiable urge to draw things, and I took a little pad with me everywhere to try my hand. I think all kids have an artist inside, but somehow ‘art’ just chose me. Having done a series of different jobs over the years, I kept gravitating back to the interest I had in sketching.
I’d majored in art at Bethel college, but couldn’t envision how to make a career with it. I took night classes at the former Wichita Art Institute and felt at home with others who were passionate about their visual craft and discovering where that journey led. Later, I traveled out of state to take workshops with professionals whose paintings I greatly admired: Ray Roberts, Sherrie McGraw, Jeff Legg, David Leffel, and others. These excellent American oil painters gave me invaluable lessons in the maze of issues in learning to paint and how to ‘see’ a composition.
In 2017, my British-born wife and I began talking about emigrating to Scotland, where her father had lived for many years. When we asked her dad where he’d live if he could live anywhere in the country, he replied ‘Kintyre—nobody thinks of Kintyre.’ We looked at other houses in Scotland, but in the end, we found our forever home on the western edge of the Kintyre peninsula, right next to the Atlantic ocean.
Thinking back to that little creek and pond that I loved as a boy, I’d hoped someday I’d find a home with a big water view. Boy did we find it! The Kintyre coastline has gorgeous long sandy beaches, and it’s strewn with magnificent rocky outcroppings. It also has grand sweeping farm pastures delineated with traditional stone walls. Within driving distance of the Highlands and laced with ancient ruins and hidden historical treasures, Kintyre is the perfect place for an artist like me.
Having packed a shipping container with boxes full of my paintings and all our family things, we made our move in the summer of 2019. The sea air in my nose, I began studying and painting the coastline and the various fishing boats I saw from our new home. I found so many new themes to explore.
This year has been difficult for us all, and we feel extremely lucky to live in a strong, friendly and resourceful community. Since March, I’ve been working hard in my studio and I’ve also had the chance to paint plein air on the beach. You can see some of the results in the gallery section on this site.
Thank you for visiting! I hope you can feel the joy in my paintings of Scotland, because I certainly feel joyful whenever I stand in front of the easel.
Until next time,