The 50th Jobs of Yesteryear Painting / by Tyler Voorhees

I sat idly at my easel in our spare bedroom. Outside my window, the moon shone bright, illuminating the massive heaves of rock resting against the foothills of the Rockies. The Flatirons have always inspired me but offered no answers this night. What to paint. What to paint. What to paint. Silence.

Maybe I need another beer to loosen up. No, that's just stalling. Perhaps another style of music will get the juices flowing. I don't need to paint tonight. Yes, you do. Just. Paint. Something.

My morning shift as a waiter at a local Boulder joint was quickly approaching and I had yet to put brush to canvas. The indecision bothered me and yet I knew that I could not go to sleep without getting some paint off my palette. "Well, here goes nothin...", I thought. I picked up a large round brush, dipped it in titanium white, and began to create an orb of light in the upper left third of the 2'x4' canvas. I didn't realize it then, but The Jobs of Yesteryear had begun.

A lot has changed since that fateful night of creation back in 2010. I've married the love of my life. I've witnessed the birth of our two beautiful boys. We've been through a 1000-year flood, the sudden death of a sister, five relocations, and seven jobs. We've quit all those jobs and started our own business, traipsing around the country with our children in tow, meeting collectors of art from all walks of life. We've driven over 45,000 miles and seen parts of the country that we'd never dreamed existed. We've met the most interesting people, helped strangers and been lent a helping hand by countless good samaritans.

And along the way, in all of my "spare-bedroom/basement/easel-in-the-woods" studios, I've created 50 (five-oh!) Jobs of Yesteryear paintings! That first glowing orb turned into the lamp that The Lamplighter lit back in 2010. The 50th was The Lamplighter VI, a fitting tribute to that first spark and one that I enjoyed creating immensely.

The Lamplighter 24x48 inches acrylic, kraft paper, watercolor paper on canvas

The Lamplighter
24x48 inches
acrylic, kraft paper, watercolor paper on canvas

The Lamplighter VI 24x48 inches acrylic, kraft paper, watercolor paper on stained birch

The Lamplighter VI
24x48 inches
acrylic, kraft paper, watercolor paper on stained birch

The Jobs of Yesteryear started out as an idea that I thought would give me 15-20 solid paintings and then would run its course. I never dreamed that the theme would capture me the way it has, hooking me with its sharp barbs and propelling me to new heights as an artist. I've always had a goal of becoming a prolific artist in the realm of Picasso and Dali, and while that will take a lifetime to achieve, finishing my 50th Jobs of Yesteryear painting is a proud milestone to reach.

In the studio circa 2014  |  Boulder, CO

In the studio circa 2014  |  Boulder, CO

In the studio circa 2016  |  Laporte, CO

In the studio circa 2016  |  Laporte, CO

There have been lectors and switchboard operators, icemen and ice cutters, sawyers and log drivers, Bombardiers have soared through the skies, harvesters have shocked the wheat, and a mailman on homemade skis has carved up and down the Sierra Nevadas. Pins and type have been set, gas has been pumped, and coal has been mined and shoveled into a steam locomotive. I've learned enough about the past couple of centuries of work to fill a book (and I just may one day). This idea has changed me, as a good idea can, and I remain grateful to have been given the gift of it that moonlit night in Boulder.

Where will the Jobs of Yesteryear take me next? I've long given up on trying to answer that question and have decided, instead, to sit back and enjoy the ride. Thank you for taking that ride with me and I hope to see you soon.

Onward!