Posted by on Jun 30, 2019 in Blog, Featured | 6 comments


I love art. I’ve loved it since I was a child and our house was filled with interesting paintings. I used to stare at them and wonder how difficult it would be to paint them.  Though none of the paintings were done by my mother, she was the one who taught me to draw. We would sit down with a large piece of paper and she would draw a squiggly line on it that connected at both ends. We would then see how many pictures of animals, faces, and just about anything we could find in the squiggly lines. I was totally captivated. She also taught me how to draw with charcoal and I remember winning a state contest when I was in high school.

But I soon let go of it. I didn’t study art in college and I moved off in a different direction, more in line with corporate America. When I retired back in 2011, Farn and I moved up to Auburn, California, near Lake Tahoe, and I realized that I still loved art. We had collected many paintings, sculptures, photographs, and textiles over the years—and they always gave me pleasure.

Soon after we moved here, I met a landscape pastel artist whose work I admired. His name was Reif Erickson, a quiet, shy man about my age. When I told him that I loved his work, he offered me a place in his weekly class. I hadn’t painted or drawn for over 30 years, but I started going to his class and have been at it ever since.

Reif died about five years ago, but we’ve kept the class going. There are five of us who meet every Thursday morning. We take turns hosting the class and the host finds the landscape photograph that we are going to paint and makes copies of it for each person. Therefore, we are all painting the same picture. And just to be clear, it’s not really “painting”. Pastels are like colored chalk, so you paint with your hands, not a brush.

Each class is two hours long. Some of us are faster than others. Reif always taught us to paint fast. He felt that we were more spontaneous that way. Some of us chat  while painting, others are quiet. Some of us paint the exact image of the photo, while others add or subtract elements. Some of us paint the colors we see, others paint the colors we imagine.  We each do as we please.

Several in our group show their work at local art shows. I have chosen not to and prefer to give my favorites away to close friends or family—people I care about. I don’t consider myself an artist. I’m getting better but I’m not that good. It’s just a wonderful way to spend some time each week. I have completed more than 160 pastels and have collected some of my favorites to share on my website on the page “My Pastels” I hope you enjoy looking at them.


  1. I am glad to read that you continue to paint. I love your pastel.

  2. I was surprised when I saw some of your pictures on your cellphone! I don’t why I was surprised. I think you are very good! Your pics are outstandingly beautiful, John! Keep it going!

  3. I love all of your work. It’s beautiful!

  4. I love your pastels. In fact, you’ve been generous and given me four of your paintings that complete our guest bathroom. I loved it when someone noted the double meaning of “I have to use the john”!!! In any case, your art work enlivens our home, thank you.

  5. Your pastels are beautiful John. I am certain that expressing yourself by creating these lovely works of art brings peace and serenity to you. You are very talented. I enjoyed looking at each and every one.

  6. John, I love looking at your pastels. They are so colorful and expressive. I particularly like the interior with the shadows; so wonderful! And your skies with the clouds also add so much to your landscapes. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

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