Friday, February 23, 2018

Bill Farnsworth, Painter, Tells His Story


Upon graduating from Ringling School of Art and Design in 1980 I headed back home to New Milford, Connecticut, expecting to get Illustration work right away in New York. Block after block I carried a huge portfolio of original art, heading to book publishers, magazines, to hopefully get representation from one of the big art representatives.


That didn’t happen right away, in fact, it took me 10 years to go full time as an illustrator. I often said, “smarter people would have found something better to do”, but this was my course whether predestined or stubborn. 

In 1982 I met the love of my life and married Deborah Marie Jajer in 1984. In the fall of '87 our first daughter, Allison was 10 months old and Deb was expecting our second daughter, Caitlin, so I decided to go full time as an Illustrator after years of working full time surveying for my father. I did odd Illustration jobs at night and weekends. We lived above my in-laws, so we had built in baby sitters, plus rent control.


It was a calculated risk, because I had one big job to illustrate a brochure for these new town houses in New Milford, Connecticut, where we lived. My first meeting with the developer and ad agency was a disaster. My sketches were awful. I left there thinking my one chance to go full time and I just blew it. They gave me two weeks to get new sketches and bring them to the agency in New Haven. I used my mother-in-law’s knitting room as a studio and decided to go right to finishes, because this was my last chance.

Against the Tide

Two weeks later, I drove my MG down to New Haven with 4 rolled up loose canvases and walked into the agency to a group of nervous looking art directors and designers. Like rolling the dice, I rolled out the canvases and they loved them! Driving back home was one of the happiest moments of my life. It meant I could go full time as a real illustrator, as least for a few months.

Craft and Light

My dad gave me a storage space at his surveying business for my studio. Now the building he rented was a former Funeral Home. My first studio was an embalming room! It didn’t creep me out because I was painting full time.

I knocked around doing all sorts of Illustrations after the town house brochure. I did a magazine cover of a giant screw floating through space for $200. 

It was my introduction into Children’s Books that put me on an 18-year career in publishing. I loved illustrating “the story”. I had to paint everything under the sun. Where I honed my craft was during my two-year project illustrating the six books for American Girls, “Kaya”. 

After that project I got a lot more jobs illustrating not only Native Americans, but historic subject matter from Lewis and Clark to the Holocaust. At first, I didn’t know how I was going to illustrate one of mankind’s worst moments. I decided I was going to be brutally honest, yet with a window of hope. In these dark times heroes like Irena Sendler and Simon Wiesenthal showed their true light.


Illustrating the story was great fun and educational too. In high school I thought Lewis and Clark were just two guys on a hike! I had the great privilege to work with some wonderful authors and try to tell their story without words. If the kids could figure out what’s going on in the painting, I felt I did my job.

Buffalo Soldier

Around 2016 my non-fiction books were being produced cheaper with stock photos and art. It kind of sterilized history for kids. I knew years before that Illustration was going away, which is why I started cultivating the Fine Art gallery scene.

In my Illustration career I knew I was going to get paid but with galleries you produce a painting in the hopes you might get paid. Finally, the right collector walks into the gallery and pays a lot of money to live with your painting. No greater compliment to an artist. 

I would supplement my income with teaching workshops and attending plein air paint outs. Paint outs invite 20-50 artists from all over the country to document the community’s area. These events have popped up all over the United States by a 15-year Plein Air movement, supported by the baby boomers and Plein Air Magazine. There is even a Plein Air Convention.

Silver Run Summer

Going outside and setting up my easel has helped me improve my painting a great deal. You must learn to choose, edit and capture the essence of a scene. A couple bought my plein air study and asked me to write down my inspiration for painting the scene. What started out as a paragraph turned into a full page. I remembered a great deal from that 2-hour time. 

In East Point, Florida, I was painting an oyster boat along the edge of Rt. 98. This disheveled guy came up to watch me paint and he told me he built the boat I was painting. He fished, built boats, and houses his whole life. He worked his butt off to pay for his sons chemo in Tallahassee. I thought sometimes painting outside is not so much about painting, but the experience.

Yonder Comes Willy Boy

So today I paint what moves me and have been in direct contact with. I start the story and the viewer can finish it.

This is Week 7 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Bill’s story today. To connect with Bill and see more of his work, please visit the following links:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Warren Alan Jackson, Painter, Tells His Story

The first painting is a part of my beginning and is of my father's parents. My grandfather was a school teacher in the early 1900's; his name was Shaper, a very well known name at that time in Fairfax, Virginia. During that time a multiplicity of difficulties occurred but didn't deter my great grandfather, Daniel Shaper from purchasing 34 acre lots in 1825. His son purchased 20 additional acres before the end of slavery. 

My Great-Grandparents

My grandfather, Richard T. Jackson, purchased 13 acres from my grandmother's family in 1938. Today, there stands serval million dollar estates on that land. 

My inspiration to create this painting of my great grandparents was taken from a self-conscious look at my past, feeling inclined to share and explore views being the focal point of my experience and expression of my life.

My vision in this scenery, below, is to orchestrate composition and offer the pleasure of gazing at a place and time that you have or would love to experience. The documentation is a brief conclusion of time desired, and shared to console, a sailing expedition journey, with the potential affect of creative discovery.


The Barber Shop was an invigorating encounter of past experience shared, deriving from childhood in my neighborhood, that consisted of creative environmental scenes and frequent visits to the Barber Shop with my father accompanying me at times, to make sure the cut was perfect. The time period is somewhat defined by the imagery advertised in the foreground.

The Barber Shop

Helping Hand, is evidence of mature development in the hands of fatherhood. I marveled at the memories shared with my father; I was always being a nagging  aggressive, curious, and eager-to-learn son. The horses and stable were times when I visited my uncle.

Helping Hand

In my painting, Contribution To Breast Cancer, the scenery was a photograph at Malcom X Park in Washington, DC. but the subject matter was prepared completely from imagination. I was inspired from my brother passing away from cancer and the dialogues with my daughter on combating breast cancer. My daughter is the main subject matter and I added to the painting, having her wearing pink for breast cancer.

Contribution to Breast Cancer

The painting, It's Time, reflects on the act of moving which occurred frequently to the idiosyncratic case families of certain stature were left to deal with. Everyone who ever lived has experienced failure and they realize this does not encompass all that made them incredible and dynamic human beings, so they pack up and to break ground elsewhere.

It's Time

This is Week 6 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Warren's story. To connect with him and see more of his work, please email him at

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Patrick Henry, Painter, Tells His Story

When I became an adult, my mother told me that one of her girlfriends was concerned about me when I was a child. Seemed she observed that while my siblings were bustling about doing what children do, I was out in a corner of the yard staring at weeds. The pattern for a life of drawing inspiration from nature was set early on.

Golden MushroomsOil on Canvas, 28x22, 2018

In those critical tender years of developing an “eye”, I drew upon, what I discovered later, the words of Lord Byron’s poem, There is Pleasure in the Pathless Woods;

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods:
There is a rapture on the lonely shore:
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

Waiting for Fries, Oil on Canvas, 18x24, 2017

Fason Purnell, a grade school friend of mine recently wrote:

“...I remember there were three of us who were pretty good little artists as kids. We were quite competitive. We would always keep an ear for the comments made by passersby about each other’s work. 'Oh, how nice' or 'I wish I could draw like that' or 'who did that' admiringly. But for Patrick, it was never 'Who did that' because one look and everyone knew, Patrick Henry did that."
 Transitions, Oil on Canvas, 24x20, 2018

Thing is, I had no clue that it was this “way of seeing” that was carrying me into a life of passion and “obsession” with the creative process. It came with a cost as I had to work hard to assimilate into “societal norms”. My private world carried more inward gratification then the things society equates as rewarding.
Sliced Tomatoes, Oil on Canvas, 18x24, 2018

This passion earned me titles such as “Most Talented Senior “in high school and in college, but I never felt qualified. Now, in my adulthood, as I’m receiving accolades for my efforts in “Best of this” or “Best of that”, I know it’s the inspiration and proper motivation set in my youth as I held close within my being the spiritual essence of the Creative “calling”.

At the Beach, Oil on Canvas, 24x18, 2017

I recall years ago, very early in my career, being asked to include an artist statement with my painting inventory. 'Why?', I asked myself. 'Aren’t the paintings enough?' Grudging I sat down and drafted a statement that has become a lasting mission statement, not only for myself, but hopefully from which others can draw inspiration:

“When painting, I always reveal some tidbit about my
 life. My paintings are about the people I’ve met, places
 I’ve been, things I reflect upon, or fleeting moments that
 have left an impression on my personal world. No greater
 sense of fulfillment is possible than to have you to pause
 and assimilate for a moment that which more often we
 allow to pass on into time.”

Mushrooms, Leaves and Sticks, Oil on Canvas, 18x24, 2018

My desire now is for anyone that views my work to rethink their relationship with the world around them and possibly discover new ideas and values.

Super A, Oil on Canvas, 18x22, 2018

This is Week 5 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Patrick’s story today. To connect with Patrick and see more of his work, please visit the following links:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bryan Jacobs, Chef & Founder of Vets2Success, Tells His Story

Bryan & Kevin Jacobs  - The Beginning

It was nothing like any movie you had seen, there was nothing that truly compared to what was to come. Two boys, with nothing more than the love of their country in their hearts and they swore an oath like many others that came before them. It was an honor to serve, it was even more of an honor to serve together. Not many since the Sullivan brothers had done it, so knowing that one of us could make the ultimate sacrifice for our country we were ready as boys could be.

January 2003 brought more than we could have anticipated - long training, poor chow, and a fly problem that only existed in movies with mummies, and an endless supply of sand and sunshine without a drop of water or a bikini in sight. We had not been told when or why, but we knew the Marine Corps was shipping us halfway around the world to deliver a singing telegram. We knew something was up when they made an over-the-top effort for every brother that was serving in the tip of the spear to spend a day with each other. Seven days later it all made sense, the reality of war was present, and boys became men as shots of anger raged the quiet world that existed, nothing was the same, especially us.

Kevin - Not all wounds are visible

Not every Marine, Solider, or service member has a wound for the world to see, many have been wounded beyond return in the trauma’s they have lived and seen. It had been years since the sounds of war, and the experiences still lived fresh in his mind. Often tears of sadness of not knowing why you have made it, and questioning the morals of right and wrong and the decisions you had to make and the lives you had to lose. 

The trails of adjustment and disbelief of the reality that had set in is sometimes more than most can bear. Many can’t believe the struggle that exists in finding a place amongst a society that you swore an oath to defend till death. We all signed a blank check for our lives not knowing if we would truly cash it in. Those who don’t cash in must pay in some way, whether it be with the memories they must drink away, or find a magic pill to subside the demons. Some have that fight, but for Kevin, his loss was on May 27th, 2014.

Pain Can Be Powerful

The loss was more than I thought I could bear, I too had been dealing with horrific thoughts of what was and lived with demons of my own, but now I lived with a burden I had never thought I would have to carry on my shoulders. I was my brother’s keeper ... I was supposed to be all he looked up to, I was his big brother. I now had to take into consideration a life that had been lost, but a legacy that could be lived. I decided to make a difference in those lives that needed a difference - not a hand out, but a hand up. 

I started a program to celebrate the legacy of my brother, one that would reflect his needs and his hopes, called Vet2Chef. All chefs pictured here are veterans, all had been down a road longer than they had ever imagined they would travel in their post military careers. This first set of lives that changed showed me a reason for living and, it gave me the reason to continue living. I now had purpose with a passion. All I had ever known was cooking. Food saved my life in so many ways. It challenged my mind, it consumed my every day, focusing my mind on so many things other than the trauma I lived and the burdens I carried.

Something to Believe In

Every life can be given a purpose, but many must find the passion behind the purpose. Many veterans miss the basis of what military service stood for. They leave the military not quite understanding why they don’t fit, and their search begins. Many of us are looking for the things that made the military home, camaraderie, brotherhood, support, team, courage, commitment and a sense of belonging to something bigger than life itself. That search can be relentless, that search can be never-ending in some cases, and tragic more often than necessary. 

Every branch of service is represented here, and all understand these simple yet harsh realities that we face. Who am I is, what am I, who have I become, who will I become, these are all questions that are asked daily of veteran. We can’t seem to always find the answer to these questions especially by ourselves. It takes a team, a mission, a focus and a dedication to excellence to see change, with this a life can be changed. Each of us has the tools to paint the picture our desires have and to live, but many of us need support to help paint that picture. Some use a canvas, some sand, others clay ... we use food.

Build It

The most amazing thing in the world is when people see your dream, they feel it, the can see it, experience it, and they can help make a difference in their own way. Everything this is comes from the love of so many, pictured here:  USF-SM faculty (left) and the cofounder of Vets2Chefs Marine Corp Veteran and Applebee’s Founder Burton “Skip” Sack (on right). 

This program represents a community that wants better for their veterans, the people who make this happen are people who believe in change. Many of our supporters have never served this country and are just loyal patriots much like all those who have served. We are blessed by so many community partners its unreal, together we are making a difference. The change that is evident comes from all the support this community provides, they help support discharge upgrades, living situations, emotional support, food, and direction.

Continue to Serve 

Many veterans are looking for a reason to serve, many can’t turn off what is still on, they must find a way to use it. Having a focus, backed by passion and purpose, can change the way a mind is used and the way it will progress. I have seen so many lives touched in so many ways by all the support and effort each of these veterans bring to the table. Many often say they never had a desire to cook nor do they understand how to cook in general, but all find a passion in their own way. 

Each of these veterans have a mission ... some are focused on becoming a chef and some are focused on having a stepping stone to the next level of life. I can honestly say my life is touched more by all they accomplish. Though I have seen and done so much, I think the biggest change for me is the healing I get from seeing the success of each of my students. Each of them has shown a desire for something you cannot put words on. They yet again have raised their hands and swore an oath, one that they take upon themselves to support, and help their new brothers and sisters on a new mission in finding a true meaning and purpose in life again.

New War New Mission

It has been one of the most amazing things to see others become inspired by change. Pictured here is a Vietnam brother who spent multiple tours in Vietnam and now on his own has found a new reason to give back. Chef John is an amazing person with more desire to see change than most can wish to see in their whole lives. Chef John has an amazing story, one that has to be heard, he says how much he looks up to us but he inspires me to move forward in a bigger dream. Chef John is single handedly planning and supporting our newest addition to our original, Vet2Baker. It takes special people like him and those yet to join us to make a bigger difference in the lives and communities that we live in.

Change is Coming

With our fifth class finishing we are proud to announce a change is coming, veterans are finding a purpose again, a new team, a new mission, with all the purpose behind them. They are clearing the way for a new breed of opportunities to be opened. With their continued success we will together forge new empires in the food and brew industry. They have given so much for the freedoms we enjoy. Now we can give so much in return by giving them a new opportunity in the communities they love to live in.

The road to home isn’t paved in gold and opportunity when we leave the service, we often find ourselves back in the same place we initially tried to get away from. It takes a lot to decide in your life you need support. It takes a lot to once have represented something so big, to becoming something you don’t even recognize in the mirror. 

Together we can make a difference in the lives of those whom have given us all the freedoms we enjoy. Stand with us in making change, stand with us as we pave the road of success.

This is Week 4 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Bryan’s story today. To connect with Bryan and his program, Vets2Success, please visit the following links: 

Instagram: Vets2Success