I love the word if. I haven’t always. Because the what if? question used to throw me into obsessive compulsive thinking patterns. I’ve somehow managed to turn the pesky logical/analytical reasoning thought processes that often accompanied the what if? question into a simpler process of answering with my imagination. As in, instead of going down the rabbit hole by answering with even if or if and only if or if….then, I can answer the what if? question with……..”Who cares?“ or “Let’s go for it!” or “Can I learn something new if…….?” Last year, I was presented with an opportunity for an incredibly challenging commission. After catching myself turning to my default mode of logical/analytical/conditional ifs as to why I was not the painter for the job, I sunk into my imagination ifs instead. And then the fun began.
It helped that I was given 100% artistic freedom.

This is an acrylic painting of the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. Justice Whittaker served as judge on all three levels of the Federal court, including the Western District of Missouri, Eighth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Courts. He was appointed by President Dwight D.Eisenhower.

The painting was commissioned by Loren Whittaker as a gift for her husband Tom, the grandson of Justice Whittaker. Tom Whittaker is CLO of JE Dunn Construction Company, builder of the Federal Courthouse. Tom has a view of the courthouse from his office window, which can be seen to the left of the painting.

Loren did an unbelievable job of orchestrating the entire journey, down to the timing and placement of the painting. This photo was taken soon after Tom was surprised with his gift. Perhaps the best photograph ever.


Look Up – To turn one’s gaze or attention from something else, often by literally lifting one’s head or turning one’s eyes upward.

It’s very difficult to look up when you’re drowning in the fear of uncertainty. I think most of the world can attest to that right now. Fear and all of its manifestations became my closest friend when I made the decision to own a 9,000 sq. ft., 130 year old building. By myself. With the unpredictable income, or not much of an income at all, that coincides with making one’s living as an artist. It’s an understatement to say that I had to learn a whole new way of thinking. I’ve finally discovered how to conquer fear……I embrace challenge. That means all challenges, whether mental, physical, emotional or psychological. Because something can go wrong, and will go wrong, no matter who you are or how you live your life. That’s for certain. When you truly understand this, and embrace it instead of fearing it, you have gained ultimate freedom. And that’s when your life begins.

So the next time you find your gaze directed downwards, reading the news on your computer screen…….look up instead. And get up.

This is what I see when I look up. The simplicity of it takes my breath away. Each. And. Every. Time.

The Great Room Design Haus. The challenge that will never end. Fortunately, it’s a creativity-inducing challenge. On a good day.


This is the start of a monumental paint job.