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The gift of Art MAY 2007 Oklahoma artist is internationally acclaimed By Elaine Warner other,” Jerry told his student. “Y

With one simple suggestion, her painting went from ordinary to outstanding. Destined for a mu- seum? No, but she left with a lovely painting and a sense of accomplishment.

It was the end of a two-day workshop and this be- ginning student had just completed her fi rst paint- ing. The site was the Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art in the Osage Hills outside of Skiatook; the teacher – Jerry Yarnell, Verdigris Valley Co-op member, an internationally known artist and instructor. At any given moment, someone in Australia, Chi- na, India or any of 37 other countries will be pick- ing up a brush to try the techniques Jerry illustrates on his TV program or videos. Many of those fans will travel thousands of miles to Oklahoma to learn from him in person.

As a youngster, he watched “Learn to Draw with John Nagy” on the family’s black and white TV. His parents bought him a John Nagy art kit. “I treasured that thing;” Jerry says, “that’s how I got interested.” During his high school years in Tulsa, his art teacher recognized his talent and arranged a room where Jerry could paint away from less-interested students. “(The principal) let me hang paintings in the hallways and my teachers would buy them from me on a time plan - paying $5 a week. It was

ou’ll want to soften these fl ow- ers – see how they stand out. The colors need to fl ow into one an-

fun and I made money – I was an entrepreneur even then,” Jerry says.

In high school, he won two scholarships to the Philbrook Art Center. Heading to OSU for college, Jerry originally planned on being a western artist. “I was going to go to vet school so I could make a living,” he says, “but I got sidetracked from studies by art jobs.” Dropping out of OSU, he tried classes at OSU Tech in Okmulgee but that didn’t work any better.

“Always the entrepreneur, I opened a little coney stand,” he says. “I ordered my hot dog buns from the culinary arts department at the college but I took so much business away from the school cafeteria that they refused to sell to me any more. I fi nally realized that I needed to get back to being an artist.” He began showing at local art shows and winning awards. He worked as artist-in residence in galler- ies in Silver Dollar City and in Taos, NM. Family considerations brought Jerry, now married, back to Oklahoma. Money was tight when a friend who owned several Radio Shacks told him that he had some video equipment he was going to get rid of. “Why don’t you take these and fi lm some painting demonstrations? Maybe you could sell them and make a little money,” he offered.

Copies of the videos wound up at Missouri South- ern State University in Joplin. They aired it on their television station and the phones began to ring. Calling Jerry, they requested more tapes – and his television career was launched. That was 1987. The next years were fi lled with highs and lows. Jerry was diagnosed with cancer—a battle he fought for several years. His wife died. But Jerry never lost

his faith. “I knew I was going to make it,” he says. “I knew God had a plan for my life.” In 2008, he

met Donna Cal- lahan; they fell in love and the couple started a new phase in both of their lives. In addition to becoming a life partner, Donna’s corpo- rate background complements Jerry as a business partner. “We work together 24/7,” he says, “and we’re taking the business to a whole new level both in quality and quantity of information. We launched a new TV series, “Paint

This with Jerry Yarnell” last year; we now have an online school and an individual critique program and we’ll be doing some webinars (with two-way interaction). Locally, KRSC35 Claremore carries our show and OETA will begin airing it at 9 a.m. on Saturdays beginning August 20.” The National Religious Broadcasting Network carries “God is the Master Artist,” part of Jerry’s ministry using art to share his message of faith.

Though technology has added interesting dimen- sions to his work, Jerry’s in-person students are never far from his mind. Most Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Open Workshop days where students spend the day working on individual projects.

Continued on Page 36 AUGUST 2011 23

“Sedona Canyon” painting by Jerry Yarnell/ Photo by Elaine Warner

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