What I Learned from The King of the Forest!

My watercolor of Grandson Tyler Scheer.   King of the Forest!

I am a closet watercolor painter.  Unfortunately my perfectionism has kept me from painting for several years and made me afraid to show my work in public for fear of criticism.

I have thrown dozens of paintings away because they weren’t perfect.  On other paintings in an effort to get it perfect  I repainted so many times that the result was a gooey mess.  But this time was different. This time I was painting the King of the Forest!
With prodding and encouragement from two artist friends, Patsy Clairmont and Gail Hyatt, I decided to paint again. The little guy pictured above is of my Grandson Tyler Scheer.  I did three things differently in this painting that I will apply to my life.  I think this experience will help me live more fully and courageously in 2013.  Maybe you too.

1.  I let my self go.  Rather than trying to copy every detail of a photo, I tried to capture the spirit of this sweet, mischievous boy.

We often work so hard at getting every detail of our life perfect we miss the spirit of life.  We forget to have fun.  Even in the midst of the most arduous, important tasks there ought to be a sense of abandonment, risk and adventure. How long has it been since you let go?

2.  I painted bold shadows as well as  light.

Below is a painting of my lovely granddaughter Lexi.  It is a good likeness but the picture was painted with fear.  Fear of making a mistake.  

Watercolor can be very unforgiving.  Once a dark color like a shadow is applied there is


no way to lighten it.  What if I painted a shadow in the wrong place?  What if I ruined the picture?  As a result of this “what if” fear, Lexi’s picture lacks the texture and depth that will characterize my paintings from now on.

If you look closely at Tyler’s picture you will find many mistakes, but it is the combination of shadows and light and color that bring the painting to life.

Have you ever met someone that appeared perfect?  Pretty boring and fake huh?  But when a friend lets you see the shadows of their life as well as the highlights, they too come to life.

Such friends honor you with trust.  Their honesty honors God and magnifies His grace.  A painting with only highlights is a blank canvas. Same is true of a person who perpetuates the perception of perfection.  In 2013, paint real, be real!

3.  I finished it and shipped it!

Every assignment, every task eventually must be completed. You could tinker with it for the rest of your life and get nothing else done.  But with each task there is a time to finish.  A time to let go.  I decided that once I signed this painting it would be done.  The temptation is so strong to change it just one more time.

I painted this cowboy from a magazine over forty years ago and gave it to my mom.  While visiting her home last year, I was tempted to touch it up.  Mom threatened to hide the picture.

One of my first paintings.

As we approach the new year, I pray you will…

Trust God and let go!    Live outside the box, fully alive.

Be genuine! Let friends see the shadows in your life as well as the highlights.

Finish it and get it out there.  Do your best, sign it and Ship it!

Share it with us. Post your work on my face book page so we can enjoy it.

I look forward to your comments
Happy New Year


  1. What a wonderful post – Beautiful pictures and beautiful thoughts for the New Year! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Beautiful paintings. The expression you captured in ‘King of the Forest’ is priceless! Great life-thoughts on fear and perfection too.

  3. These lessons are GOLD! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think you should also do a post on the story behind the painting. Tell us why Tyler made his king’s crown. … Excellent post!

  4. You have extraordinary talent as a painter, Ken. I think your true ability—whether in life or in painting—is to see things clearly. This is something few people have. It is almost a prophetic gift. Trust it!

  5. Wow Ken…sounds like me. I have painted many watercolors in the past (no time right now…and I know what you would say…) and when I get a compliment, even from an Art Club showing my work, I think, “Fooled ’em again.” I get scared too…watercolor IS unforgiving, but my art teacher always tried to keep it all in perspective…it’s just paper! I love your painting of your grandson.

  6. Thank you for sharing such amazing insights. This is a post to start a new year on the right track. First time visitor, and it will not be my last!

  7. I love these paintings!! You know, the minute I got a glimpse of the King of The Forest, without knowing who he was, I knew he was of the Davis clan. You captured the Davis gene perfectly. Lexi isn’t far behind so don’t you let ole demon fear sneak in there and slow you down. A verey good post to start the New Year. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Irene! Love having you be part of the conversation. I just posted the story behind that painting. Check it out.

  8. As an artist who also struggles with perfectionism I could really relate to this. Thanks for being vulnerable!

  9. Ken, WOW! You captured more than faces, you captured personalities. Congratulations on your artistic talent, and for the journey. I guess you need someone to grab the paintings and run as soon as you are done.

  10. Wow, Ken, Bless you for sharing this post. And bless your friends for encouraging you to keep painting! God has given you a wonderful talent. I love the paintings!

  11. Ken this is FANTASTIC! I had no idea you painted. — What great take away’s as well. Thank you for sharing this. My life just got a little richer. What a blessing.

  12. Huh, I thought I’d commented on this yesterday. Anyways, that’s some fantastic work Ken! Amazing how shipping completes the work.

    BTW, if you ever think of selling some of your artwork, I’d be more than interested. That cowboy painting is fantastic!

    1. Thanks Joe. I haven’t really actively made my paintings for sale. The cowboy is a painting of a picture from a magazine so it would be an infringement of copyright to sell that one. Anyway my mom would kill me. Soon I will post a place where all of my work can be seen. Watch for the back story on the King of the Forest soon.

      1. Well, if you ever consider making them for sale, I’ll be first in line.

        I wouldn’t blame your mom for killing you for that one. It’s an amazing painting. Looking forward to hearing the backstory to the King of the Forest!

  13. Ken, you have captured the essence of your grandson’s elfish, precocious, wondrous toddlerhood. It’s a treasure beyond compare. Yes, the contrast of dark and light are essential, as well as abandoning the desire for a perfect rendering. Thank you for sharing lessons learned in this process. You are close to inspiring me to pick up my brush again. I set it aside years ago, all because I was afraid. :: P.S. I would love to know who made King Tyler’s oak crown. It just makes me smile.

    1. Debbie, I made the crown. I will blog soon on how the whole thing came about. Now to the most important message. I refuse to “almost” inspire you to pick up the brush again. I hope to get a message from you soon saying that you DID pick up the brush. Do it friend!

  14. Ken, the picture of your grandson is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your talent and your wisdom with us. I also started painting with watercolors a few years ago. The few pictures I have painted are very childlike and I have never shared them publicly. You have inspired me today.

    God bless you!
    Amy von Borstel

    1. Amy,

      Please post your pictures along with a message on my facebook page. Let Go! I would be honored to see them.

  15. That is amazing. What an extraordinarily beautiful gift you have from the Lord. Tyler looks so much like you. Both pics are so incredible. May the Lord give you the courage to do what he asks of you. Hebrews 10:35.

  16. Love the term “closet watercolor painter.” I guess that’s what I am only I never had a diagnosis of it before. I would love to paint cards but am embarrassed that my creations look like I’m still in kindergarten. I am a wanna-be painter, and I love watercolors. Your post gave me some new boldness… I will try painting a few cards and sending them out. You’ve helped me realize there are so many things I miss in life because I’m a perfectionist. If I can’t accomplish it perfectly, I give up trying. Thanks for your words, Ken.

    1. Oh Carol, Do it. Every card will be a special part of you! What better gift could there be than that?

  17. Ken, I am thrilled that Gail and Patsy have influenced you to come out of the closet! You have an incredible gift. I encourage you to read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Turn to page 165 and memorize it. In essence it says that when we don’t use our gifts we rob the world of our contribution. I have read this passage so often. Until about a year and a half ago I wouldn’t paint either. But I had been drawing for over ten years. I finally realized I didn’t paint because I feared no one would like it. I got over that and now I paint because when I do I feel my heart sing. It is for ME I paint…and I find that my talent blesses others along the way. I pray you continue to paint. You rob us all of a blessing if you don’t!

  18. Brillant comparison and beautiful insight Ken! I am such a perfectionist myself and understand exactly what you are saying.
    Also, great work on the art Brother! My Mother is a retired professional artist and so the smell of turpentine is one of my favorites. Takes me back to my young days. Has that “home” smell to me 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  19. I have just started painting. It was counseling that got me started. However, I am letting fear of imperfection take over again and not painting. Keep putting it off. Now I am no where near the level of yours and can’t do faces, but the family loved the ones I did do and with your message I think I can get back on track.
    Thank you for being vulnerable. Honest. Open. There is not enough of that in this world.

    God blessed you with a talent and I hope you will keep doing it, without fear.
    Thank you for being you.

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  21. Ken, your watercolors are glowing, even when they aren’t perfect! And let me tell you a secret – there ARE no perfect paintings. You’ve found your artistic voice because you love your subjects. Well done, my friend. Let’s paint together next time you’re in BV. 😀

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