Oklahoma's Own: Green Country Artist Living Out His Dream

Wednesday, February 15th 2012, 10:17 pm
By: Craig Day

A renowned Green Country artist isn't just known for his paintings, but for teaching people his craft on TV.

In an old horse barn converted into a studio and classroom, many of Jerry Yarnell's paintings hang on the wall.

Yarnell is having fun and living out his dream. He knew at a young age, he wanted to paint.

"I was born with a paintbrush in my hand," Yarnell said.

And at a very young age, Yarnell knew he wanted to share his skills with others. Not only does he have a passion for painting, he also has a desire to pass it on.

"As artist's, it's kind of funny, we wake up and all we want to do is paint. The difference for me and some artists is I love to teach," he said.

At his art school in the converted horse barn, and at workshops and clinics nationwide, Yarnell shares his skills.

Yarnell School of Fine Art

What's also different about Yarnell is for a quarter of a century, he's been teaching not just in person, but also on the airwaves.

In the 1980's, he shot a how-to painting video. Public television in the U.S. and Canada picked it up. A quarter century and thousands of hours on TV later, he's still at it.

His current version of the show is called "Paint This with Jerry Yarnell."

"It is now airing in all 50 states and all over the world, it's just amazing," Yarnell said.

And what's also amazing is the response he sees when someone learns to paint, when they never thought they could.

"They get this big wide eyed look on their face like a little kid at Christmas time, ‘wow! I painted that tree' or that rock,' I can't explain that, I don't know it's kind of like eating chocolate cake, it just makes you feel good," he said.

And painting made Yarnell feel good when doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his chest.

"I was diagnosed with this horrible cancer. And they gave me basically just a few days to live," he explained.

Yarnell believes his life was spared for a reason: to keep sharing his talents with others--not just on canvas in a classroom, but also by painting in the pulpit.

He's a frequent guest speaker at churches across the country.

"If we turn the paintbrush of life over to God and leave it in his hands, and let him work it, he will then take all of those blobs of wrong things in our life, and turn it into something beautiful," Yarnell said.

It's a memorable message from a man who is happy, and comfortable with a life's mission, whether it is painting or teaching, or preaching.

A man who sees beauty, and shares it.