If we could stack all the people who have been influenced by this man, one on top of the other like scoops of ice cream, we would have a people pile that reached to the moon and back 5 times. Yes, I made that up. But it is probably not far from the truth.
In 2004, I attended a plein air workshop here in Leiper's Fork Tennessee with a wonderful artist named Jason Saunders. He mentioned Scott and their friendship, and showed us a book of his work which also included images of painting trips with friends. Jason was one of the people in those pictures. I had never seen any work so wonderful. At the conclusion of Jason's workshop I felt super inspired. Before that time, I had never painted outdoors (since I basically hate bugs and sweat). However, I discovered that while I was actually painting, I didn't notice that stuff at all. Instead, I felt close to God, humble, special, invigorated, exhausted, and amazing.
Obviously, I was very horrible at plein air, but it was exciting to try something so new that offered to much to explore and learn. So, without hardly thinking, I began watching for Scott to announce the dates for his workshop the following year, and a friend and I signed up immediately. Scott's would be my first painting experience away from home, a workshop for serious painters, and I spent the next 8 months scared to death just thinking about it.
Bags packed (or should I say, OVER-packed), Cynthia Vowell and I went on our big adventure to Jackson Hole. It rained all 10 days of the 10-day workshop. Still, I painted outdoors, under eaves and umbrellas, as much as possible. This workshop marks the real beginning of my study from nature as well as the start of my career in fine art in 2005.
A lot of what Scott taught in that first workshop went well over my head. Even today, there are things I heard Scott say way back then, that are just now "clicking." That's the beauty of studying with someone who has so much knowledge and is willing to share it.
I remember telling Scott that I was leaving my graphic design business to paint full-time. (Remember, I had no painting chops at all at this time.) He just looked at me like I was crazy. But, instead of laughing in my face though, he said, "You must want this really bad." His tone was encouraging, like he had felt the same way once. Maybe I was just looking for that in his words, but I took it as encouragement that if I tried as hard as I could and worked as hard as I could, my desire for becoming a better painter would carry me through to something great.
Over the years, I've had the grand opportunity to work with Scott both as a student and in business. More than that, we became friends, and I cherish that part of it most of all.
Scott's catastrophic neck injury in college may have been what forced him out of a football career, but his love of nature and affinity for beauty is the reason he is the accomplished artist he is today. This will no doubt embarrass him if he reads it, but remember it is only my personal view of him and not the way he views himself. He is brilliant. He is soulful. He is strong and meek and humble and great all at the same time. The blessing of conversation with someone like that is extraordinary. The privilege of having him to commiserate with, share jokes with, talk painting with, is a gift.
Scott, thank you for all you have given to so many of us. You and I have only known each other a short time, really, but it feels like I have known you all of my life. May you paint and fly fish your way through the next 40 years with much success and joy.
Read all about Scott, why he became an artist, and see his wonderful work at ChristensenStudio.com
If you missed last week's tribute on Dawn Whitelaw, you can find it here.