Monthly Archives: October 2018

You Are

Just as in my paintings, I have certain recurring themes in my writing. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to say. It’s because there are certain things that are so important to me that I want to express them again. And again. On a new day. With different words.

Roses keep smelling like roses, and no one rolls their eyes and says they’re repeating themselves.

I am so grateful and so humbled by the support that has come to me from my community.

The words people say to me boggle my mind. When I am riddled with self doubt, people tell me I am an inspiration. When I think I am boring people, they say I am articulate. When I feel like I am crazy, I am told that I am filled with so much love.

I am filled with so much love.

So much love that it hurts sometimes.

To those who have contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, to those who bid so generously on my paintings to support the expansion of my family, to the anonymous person who set up a recurring deposit into my bank account, to those who have voiced their support through Facebook comments, and those who give me hugs when they see me around town… I can not find the words to adequately express my thanks.

If you think I am performing some noble feat to help someone in need, YOU ARE.

You sacrifice to help make my dream a reality.

I just had the best weekend I have had in over 22 years.

Everywhere we went, we were met with such warmth and attention. Here’s that word again… such love.

I saw this town and the world through a new set of eyes.

Thank you.

I love you.

Art Talk/Silent Auction

Once again, I am humbled by the love and support from this wonderful community. Thank you to everyone who came out to the Higher Ed classroom last night, and to those who were unable to attend. Thank you to for the beautiful photographs, and all your help carrying stuff and setting it up. I feel very blessed.

kaikki on lelu (everything is a toy) 12″ x 36″

At the beginning of July, I adopted a kitten. I was not looking for a kitten. I already had a beautiful cat. But I saw a picture of him and could not resist. So Poika joined Lempi and me, and has brought a lot of energy into our home.

He plays all the time, and everything is a toy to him.

Lempi hid for the first week or two, but now I think she’d agree with me that we’re glad he’s here.

Novelty with a purpose

rantakiviä (beach stones)

These new paintings are a departure for me in many ways. They are smaller, and they are painted on illustration board. I’m using more knives and scrapers to apply the paint, building up the surface in a way that I haven’t in the past. This impasto is something I have admired for a long time in other artists’ work. So I’m using fewer brushes, and less water.

The frames are from second hand stores. After art school, I stopped painting on paper because I wanted to avoid the expense of framing.

yksi punainen lehti (one red leaf)

Expensive art supplies don’t make me a better artist. If anything, they make me more cautious, and that is not a good thing. What I love about the act of painting, is the sense of fun or exploration. I don’t feel free to experiment with expensive paint. I don’t want to dirty an expensive brush.

I buy the absolute cheapest paint scrapers and spackling knives… the kind at the hardware store, in the three-pack, with plastic handles.

I remember applying paint with bits of cut up or torn cardboard when I was in art school.

What I’m doing is not new, but new to me.

I heard a podcast this week that said, Creativity is the only way human progress happens.

It went on to say that creativity is Novelty with a purpose. Expectation, fulfilled in a way we haven’t seen before.

I have to strike a balance between Regulatory and comfort vs. surprise and novelty.

I’ve eluded to this previously in my blog. I want my art to be familiar enough to be accessible and yet innovative enough to be interesting. This refers to the physical application of paint to a surface, but it applies to the intellectual content as well. I want to express something in colors and shades, lines and shapes, that expresses my impression or emotion, so that you can look at it and say

Yes. I have felt that way, too.

The words I write here can inform or surprise you, but only because they are familiar enough to be understood. If I made up my own unique language, it would be useless in conveying a message.

koivikko (birch grove)


My Grandparents, Alfred and Lempi (Wiano) Young

Over the past year or so, I have been tapping into my Finnish heritage by looking at a lot of abstract art by Finlanders. They have influenced the paintings I’ve been producing. Here is a little collection of the type of Finnish work that has inspired me and/or caught my interest. I don’t have to try to paint like a Finn. Finnish blood runs through my veins.

Here we go!

I met with a wonderful group of beautiful transgender people yesterday. I was kind of the odd man out, since I identify as the gender that I was assigned at birth.

Everyone is different. Every single person. No two people are alike. Each one of my new friends, and every one of us expresses our unique humanity, and completes the portrait of the human race.

Society wants to tell us who and what we should be. I don’t believe anyone should be anything. Just be you. You are enough exactly as you are.

Your anxiety lies to you.

Sometimes the mirror lies to you. We are our own harshest critic. We question everything good about ourselves, while being kind and generous to our friends and loved ones.

There is nothing wrong with you.

These are exhausting days for me. I don’t get enough sleep. But my days and nights are sprinkled with beauty.

Things are changing. I might get more rest in the near future, or I might be even more tired.

Either way, hang on tight. Here we go!

EVENT: One week from tonight!

pitkä ajaa kotiin (long drive home)


käteni maalataan

Artist’s Talk and Silent Auction

Friday, October 26 in the big classroom at Cook County Higher Education in Grand Marais.

Please join me at the Higher Ed building between 6 and 10 pm. I’ll give a talk at 7 pm about my art and my philosophy, followed by a Q&A.

A collection of my new paintings will be available in a silent auction ending at 9:30. Bidding will start at just $10.

Come by for a hug and a glass of wine, and I will do my best to entertain, inform and inspire you.

I don’t labor over paintings. I breathe in and out. I ponder things, places and people. While my brain is doing this, my hand paints.

To paint like this takes some confidence. I think people expect to see a representational form in a painting, be that a landscape, an object or a portrait.

That expectation is what, for me, has made abstract painting difficult. Especially when I was in my 20’s and going to art school.

To express a feeling or thought without spelling it out for the viewer can be challenging.

In my painting “long drive home”, I tried to capture the feeling of coming up the highway from Duluth after a day of shopping. The sun sets behind the trees, and blue shadows fill in the rock faces along the roadside.

The weariness of the drive makes arriving at home that much sweeter.



I believe that every person has the ability to be creative. Not everyone has the confidence or the drive to act on that creativity, and creativity manifests itself in many different ways… through many different mediums and disciplines. It is not exclusive, and it’s is not a competition. Since we all have a unique viewpoint or perspective, we all have the ability to teach and inspire each other.

Your strength may lie in my area of weakness or limitation, so we are puzzle pieces that come together to form humanity, complementing each other. What is a challenge to you should not be a source of embarrassment.

I think I found my creative niche because of my weak areas. As a child, I was not able to find success through academics. This was a problem, because the main thing I was judged on was schoolwork. Art was fun for me. It was easy. It was easily dismissed. Even when crowds of kids gathered around me to watch me draw, I did not consider it special. It was not important.

While I believe that we are all innately creative, I think a lot of people valued other things more.

We get good at what we practice. And I think it’s true that if we don’t use it, we lose it.

But what is lost can be found again.

I don’t think it is ever too late to learn a new skill. We can tap into a dormant ability. It might take more effort, or more thought, but I firmly believe that it can be done.

I learned English very easily as a toddler. Learning Spanish as an adult is very difficult.

Everything I have experienced influences my art. Some things are more obvious than others. The challenges I am aware of are are often the main subject of my paintings. The unnamed, forgotten or repressed challenges are just as much a part of me. Just as real, though they may not wear a label to identify them.

Artists and art teachers have certainly influenced me. They have worked out many things for me, and I benefit from all the art that all humans have made throughout our history. Even the art I have never seen. Artists have been influenced by each other, and pass that influence on to the next generation. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

I have always wanted to make art. I haven’t always wanted to show it to anyone else.

Spirituality and culture are at the very core of creativity. We have the unique ability to express our feelings and emotions like no other earthlings can. Visually, through the written word, dance or theater to name a few. Culture is our context.

Education is important, because it gives a framework to learning. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. An education doesn’t make you creative, but it supports creativity.