Andrew Jackson painting

Andrew Jackson's paint study of the Lone Cypress, combined with his fondness for childhood icons like Godzilla.

Andrew Jackson is well-known locally as a gallery owner, curator, publisher and collector.

He's brought work here by contemporary street artists like David Cho, Shepard Fairey, Retina, Banksy, Tess-One and Basque.

His Outer Edge Gallery brought urban art to Monterey years ago. His wife, Sunshine, is a painter.

He's mentoring the young artists of Youth Arts Collective [YAC]. But he says he hadn't, himself, painted for a sustained period for 10 years. Until now.

Twenty days ago, May 1, he embarked on a challenge to do a paint study a day for 30 days.

It's called 30 in 30. He's posting each work on a page he created on his Facebook.

Priced at $100 each, they've all sold in a concentrated first-come-first-served frenzy—some within minutes of him posting it.

"Meg Biddle of Youth Arts Collective came up with a challenge to get everybody drawing again," Jackson says. "Thirty sketches in 30 days. One of YACsters turned to me, 'Are you going to do it?' I said I don't really draw. 'What are you going to do?' I thought about it. 'I'm going to do an oil painting sketch.'"

That was the beginning, more than 20 days ago. He started painting in his garage in Castroville or at YAC studios, posting each work like they were the days of a calendar. They are studies, sketches in paint.

"Everything is allowed in a study," he says. "When I work out what's good and possible, that's when I learn. If I set out to make something that's going to be a masterpiece, you miss all the wonderment."

Numbers 4 and 5 are saturated in reds, yellows and oranges and are inspired by Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride from his childhood in Anaheim. Number 12 is an expressionistic color study of the sea water. Number 7 is a study of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Number 16 is a serene seascape of the iconic Lone Cypress, with a hazy and nondescript Godzilla fording the Pacific Ocean off in the distance.

"That was fun," he says. "I was really excited to see that movie but I stuck to my stretches. I was celebrating Godzilla!"

Number 8 is a brightly lit bar scene from his drinking years that he refers to as his "bad old days"—he's since joined a couple of men's groups and says he's been sober for 5 years.

This exercise fits into one of the tenants of one of the men's groups which he calls a "stretch," a project that is measurable, accountable and time-bound: "Personal stretches to keep us in the loop of things I have to do. I put myself first."

For instance, he says he advises YACsters that an artist has to, first, make time for art. He says that he doesn't try to criticize before he paints, that he just lets it happen. Now in his 40s, he began painting when he was 19.

"I'm capable. I've got 20-some odd years of doing it. How many times have I mixed color? Thousands? I've always felt comfortable moving paint around. Back when I had my gallery, when I was young, it was intimidating for someone to commission a painting from me. So I came up with these real down and dirty color sketches in oil. I would bang out what I thought they wanted and we would talk."

They're expressionistic works done with a fast hand; he says he normally takes three days to draw a scene with pencil. They are his equivalent of doing sketches, which the YAC youngsters have taken up on their Facebook page—reams and reams of their sketches. He wants to share the spotlight of attention he's getting with the YACsters.

Monterey Museum of Art Executive Director Charlotte Eyerman has commented on his 30 in 30 page about buying work; so has former Museum of Monterey Director Lisa Coscino. Sculptor Steven Whyte recently let him occupy his Carmel studio gallery while he and his own crew occupy the American Tin Cannery to work on a big sculpture commission for the A&M College Bowl.

"It feels good to be back in Carmel," Jackson says.

He began painting near there when he came to the Peninsula at age 19. In fact, painting study Number 8, the brightly lit bar, he suspects is an old memory of Jack London's bar when it used to be across the street from Whyte's gallery. Jackson says it feels like coming full circle.

"I've done maybe less than 12 paintings in 10 years. To have this, my outlook, at accomplishing what's attainable, it's given me a lot of confidence. At the end of each day I look back at them and I'm really pleased to look back. The joy of finishing them in one day, no matter what the outcome, it feels good. It's been joyful."

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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