Local artist finds joy in painting
Ed Sleater of Quincy may be one of many artists inspired by the late Bob Ross of the T.V. program “The Joy of Painting.”
The television host and American artist took fledgling artists through the oil-painting process on the PBS program, which ran for 11 years. Sleater and his wife garnered tips from Ross and used them in their own creations.
“I started painting as a hobby 20 years ago with my wife, Sharon,” Sleater said. “I got turned on to painting by Bob Ross. It is a very easy way to do oils. Everybody says, ‘I can’t paint.’ Yeah, you can.”
Sleater’s oil paintings are featured now through November in the Mary Kazda Art Space at the Quincy Public Library.
Sleater is a Washington native who grew up in the Tri-Cities. The 75-year-old signed on with the Small Business Administration years ago, which led him to relocate to several different locations, including Seattle, Portland, Oregon and, finally, Anchorage, Alaska. Sleater and his wife spent 30 years in Alaska, with about half that time spent in Anchorage and the other in Soldotna.
Most of Sleater’s paintings are inspired by Alaskan scenery, although none represent any particular location. His ideas come from being surrounded by many diverse natural features, including mountains, tundra, trees, lakes and snow. Alaska has it all. Sleater enjoys painting scenes over people or animals.
His work appears to flow off his brush. Sleater’s paintings are tranquil and soothing. This reflects his philosophy on painting, which is to find a quiet place and just paint – whether you are confident or not.
“Painting is a great way to settle your nerves and get your blood pressure down,” he said. “I don’t know where the ideas come from. I just do it.”
Sleater’s advice to any beginner is to just start. That is the first step. Leave your inhibitions and preconceived ideas behind and let your ideas and thoughts fall out onto the canvas, he said. This is what painting is all about for him.
“As long as you are not too critical of yourself, you can do alright,” Sleater said. “You get started with your blank canvas, and you have no idea what you want to paint. You imagine skies, clouds, horizons and foreground. This is the way Bob Ross went about it.”
He encourages painters to stop when they run out of ideas and return to the painting later. It took him three years to finish one painting, he said.
Building depth of scene and adding detail into the foreground of the painting is also one of Sleater’s trademarks. At the suggestion of another artist, Sleater added fireweed into the foreground of one painting to add more color and depth. It turned out to be one of his favorite Alaskan-inspired paintings because it accurately reflected the vast expanse of fireweed in the region, he said.
“Painting is very calming,” Sleater said. “It is very settling. What is coming off your brush and palette is turning into something, and you want to see what it is.”
Sleater has sold some paintings in the past; however, it’s not a priority for him. He is especially attached to those on display at the library.
“These are my sweethearts,” he said. “I have done a couple hundred paintings. These are the ones I have left. I like them, and they would be hard to part with.”
— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor