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  • Michael Russel

My Weird and Crooked Artistic Path

Although I am 54-years old, I am just a budding artist. In the last two years, since I moved back to my hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado, I have unleashed my dormant passion for art. It’s been a long time coming…

I grew up as the youngest of seven kids wanting nothing more than to be an artist. As a kid, I drew comic book superheroes, and captured scenes from the Lord of the Rings, my favorite books. I knew I had to go to college, but since my family’s income was limited (and I was the last of the line), I knew I had to get a scholarship somewhere. So I chose to follow my oldest brother’s path, being accepted to the United State Air Force Academy. My thought was that I would fly around the world experiencing all its fantastic scenes, and that’s what I did, flying to five of seven continents. I’ve flown in combat, been to the poorest places in Africa looking into the eyes of impoverished children, and met the most interesting and amazing people.

Through it all, I grabbed onto opportunities to do my art. I did cartoons and art classes in college, alongside my engineering and psychology courses. I took a painting class during one assignment with folks who had been doing the class for twenty years and were incredible. (After a couple of months in her course, the teacher confided that I was, effectively, on year twenty.) It was during these three years that I painted Emerald Bay (pictured), one of my favorite memories from my family's visit to Lake Tahoe.

After leaving the St. Louis area, years went by without another chance for art, other than the scarce drawn portrait of a crewmember over dinner. Then my wife and I had the opportunity to move back to Colorado Springs, to where the mountains glow pink and purple in the morning sunrise. Aweing at the light against those mountains every morning brought forth something long distant, something I wasn’t sure was there anymore. It has come back roaring…

What do I say to budding artists, who have a passion, but don’t know quite where their artistic journey will take them? Art is a journey, a state of mind, a way of looking at the world in amazement – viewing and appreciating every sight differently than everyone else. Live your art where and how you can. Draw a sketch of your father-in-law on a restaurant napkin during a family dinner. Draw your fellow passenger sitting across the aisle. Draw the trees on the golf course (while you’re looking for your ball!). Don’t give up that passion. Appreciate the special sight you possess! Live your art!

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