Yes, you should go

 “In My Fathers Shadow” Oil on ½” gessoed panel, 20 x 16

Dedicated to my father, the man who encouraged me to enjoy the adventures of life.

Where even to begin with this piece?

I guess I should start with the summer of 1984 when I was eleven years old, and I had just finished my first week of Boy Scout camp. It was a great week spending time outdoors, camping, and all of the other things that go with being a Boy Scout. The older scouts were getting ready to go onto their second week of Scout camp, a 100-mile canoe trip in upstate New York, and I wanted to go. My father never batted an eye, absolutely no hesitation, “yes, you should go,” he said. On the other hand, my Mom didn't breathe easily again until I retired home safe. That was the adventure that started it all, and I have been getting out and enjoying all of the adventures that life has to offer.

1984 - Getting ready to go on my first adventure!
My dad, myself, and my best friend Kendall

Let's fast forward 35 years later, in October 2019, where I found myself on the side of a mountain in Rwanda photographing Mountain Gorillas. This would be my fifth time over to East Africa, and as the light rain fell from the sky and I watched a Silverback munch on his lunch, I found myself saying, “Thanks, Dad!” That 100-mile canoe trip in 1984 has encouraged me to go on countless adventures, photographing wildlife from around the world and using those images to create my drawings and paintings.

October 2019, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Upon returning to my studio, I almost immediately composed this painting and started the painting in January 2020. Well, we all know the rest of this story. Life threw us a curveball. Sadly my painting sat in a corner for almost two years as I grappled with the closure of my art academy and getting back on my feet. In November 2021, I took the baby Gorilla out of the corner and put it back on my easel, and proceeded to start painting again.

Silverback hanging out in a tree, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

I worked on the painting all of November and into December when I stopped because my father's health deteriorated. Sadly on December 14, 2021, my father passed away.

I always intended to title this piece somehow in relation to my Dad because of his encouragement to enjoy life's adventures. As I finished the painting this past January, I often thought about my Dad and that first adventure in 1984. I had expressed to him my desire to join the older scouts on the trip, and he bent over, put his arm around me, and said, “yes, you should go.” As he did this and told me yes, I was in the cast shadow of my father.

Detail of face and hand

Detail of face.


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