from a dad's view

All a Board! – watercolor

This is a watercolor that I did years ago for my stepfather. My stepfather is a wonderful, loving man that took pride in everything he did. Born into a very very poor family, he was forced more or less into being a migrant worker while in grade school. He worked picking cotton out in the fields, when most kids were playing baseball or playing with trucks. They ate anything that crawled or flew, and had very few clothes. He had several jobs growing up up including shining shoes, barber, military and the railroad. His education only extended to the 8th grade but he is one of the most brilliant and intelligent person that I’ve known. He absorbed everything around him in both books and life. He began working on the L&N and CSX railroad in his thirties and retired from it years ago. Even though they are on the train most of the time it is a very hard and dirty job, but every time he got called in whether it was in the afternoon or middle of the night, he would always sharpen his knife to the point of being able to shave hair off your arms, shine his boots to perfection, iron his shirt and jeans. He taught us to respect and have pride in what we have, are jobs and most of all family. He is the one who always pushed me to be the artist I am, when everyone else seen it as a waste of time and I thank him for this.

He suffers from Ahlzeimers for about six years now and things are changing, but he still has a wonderful sense of humor  and still continues to love and hold his stepchildren and grandchildren close to his heart. So my love and my heart will always be with my stepdad, no matter what the future holds for him or myself.

Love Ya dad!

22 responses

  1. This is a beautiful picture of a steam engine, Ryan. Reading about your stepfather reminds me of my grandfather. Taking pride in whatever it is that you are doing. Did you use white in this? I have trouble when I try to use white for fog or an effect like this. I can see where you painted in shapes on the side of the engine in a lighter value. I can never seem to achieve the soft effect that you achieved here. How do you do that?

    January 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    • Thanks Leslie,
      The paper is actually whiter than it shows, again poor scanning. I didn’t use white for anything other than the highlights on the rivets and cables. The fog was created by using the least amount of paint as possible or by painting some of the darker parts of the train and the using water only to push the paint from that area into the fog area. It lightens the darker areas but still leaves the image. It’s all trial and error to me, because of no training (play on words) but that’s part of the fun for me. I hope I helped!

      January 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      • Thank-you Ryan. I’m going to have to experiment some more because I have a great deal of difficulty with a steamy or foggy appearance. I also admire paintings that fade out toward the edges like a lot of John Lovett’s do. I have tried swimming gesso in on the edges like he does and always wreck it somehow. Practice. Practice. John Lovett is here:

        January 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm

  2. And he can look at an enjoy your beautiful, meaningful painting.

    I am very impressed with the color scheme. It is muted and restricted but in no way looks dull, dreary or boring. Two of my favorite colors are sepia and payne’s gray. I love using them together but I learn something about keeping colors alive by looking at your work.

    January 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  3. Thank you Linda,
    I wanted the colors to give off an antique look and was happy with the final look. Thanks again!

    January 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

  4. Last week-end i was made a trip in Bretagne with the train.I loved it 😉
    Your painting is like real.Great job 🙂

    Take care!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 am

    • France, I’m trying my best to talk my wife into to visiting France for our 25th anniversary this year, and she loves France, but she says maybe when the kids are out of the house. Oh well I tried!
      This is an old steam engine that is no longer used, but I liked the steam rolling out from the bottom. Thank you again!

      January 21, 2010 at 6:38 am

      • Well…someday you and your wife will have the chance to visite it 🙂 I’m sure of it.
        It’s a beautiful country.

        Take care!

        January 21, 2010 at 12:26 pm

  5. Mommy

    Ryan, this is beautiful and truly appreciate it. You know if I cried he won’t even get started readin it until the hankie will have to be pulled out. Thanks for loving him.

    January 21, 2010 at 8:11 am

  6. Mommy

    Didn’t get the g on reading it but what the heck? We’re in the South right now. Besides. I had tears in my way.

    January 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

  7. Richard McNaughton

    Thank You for commenting on my paintings. I am new to blogging and I’m now looking at your wonderful work.
    I see you go into a little more detail about your painting and that I think helps to understand the work a little better. I may have to expand my communication skills.


    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  8. Ryan, this train painting is beautiful. I love how you captured the steam coming from the bottom. I have a young nephew who LOVES trains and would love this painting. Great job. And great story about your step-father. Our parents and grandparents who came here with nothing and/or grew up during the depression sure were cut from a different cloth, huh.

    January 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

  9. Beautiful, and the story of your stepdad. My father worked for the railways also, he reminds me a lot of your stepdad, he’s dead now has been for a long time. What a worker he was also, 5 children to support, conditions were very similar. But he always seemed to find the time and ingredients to make us home made ice cream in the summertime, never forgotten it, and can still taste it now. Thank you for your story.

    January 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    • Thank you,
      I still make home made ice cream, BRAIN FREEZE ice cream. Although we used to have to crank it and now it’s electric, but the rock salt, vanilla, eggs, cream and tons of sugar, m-m-m-m-mmmmm! Sorry about your step dad but it sounds like he left you with a lot of memories.

      January 22, 2010 at 5:19 am

      • They just can’t get the same taste in the commercial ice cream can they.

        January 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

  10. The train is really beautiful, very detail in all aspect especially the steam coming out from the big engine. Also love the story about your stepdad, i can feel how much warm and respect you have for him. The image of the train really resemble the person,standing tall, strong and tough like the big engine.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:32 am

    • Thank you Francis,
      I think you described it perfectly, The train is a perfect symbol of my stepfather, strong, reliable and once he gets going, nothing can stop him.

      January 22, 2010 at 5:14 am

  11. Wow, this one really talks! Thanks so much for the tribute you posted with it as well. Wonderful to know how much you appreciate what a self-made, self-driven man accomplished. I see his independence and strength in that locomotive, and no doubt you do too. The atmosphere is astounding–it would have made the French Impressionists envious. I particularly like the trees dissolving in the mist or steam or whatever it is that is obscuring them. I’ve always had trouble “misting out” my trees, and would love to be able to capture the effect the way you did here.

    January 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    • Thank you David for such a kind compliment and coming from someone who’s talent far exceeds anything I could imagine, even makes it more appreciated.

      January 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

  12. A really lovely piece, so much detail. You’re stepdad sounds like such a wonderful person and has so far lived an interesting life. It’s amazing how having one person who supports you no matter what, can do.

    January 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

  13. aswirly

    Oh…I’ am so sorry about the Alzheimers. I took care of my grandmother with alzheimers for 2 years and I know how hard it is to face. Your stepdad sounds like a wonderful person and supported by a wonderful family too. And what a lovely watercolor!

    January 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm

  14. What a loving and most beautiful tribute. I agree with Francis, wholeheartedly. You handle watercolors gracefully and to be able to gently show strength and power through this medium is a gift!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your words!

    January 28, 2010 at 6:07 am

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