The First Art Sale | Behind the Canvas with Jim Klein

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis


Rewind to 1966: before the age of smartphones, Facebook, and men on the moon, contemporary abstract artist Jim Klein was enjoying life as a high school junior in Colorado. Among his many classes during his educational career, a stand-out favorite was -unsurprisingly- art. In this blog, Jim expresses gratitude to the memory and influence of this art teacher that helped encourage his creative mind.

Who was this art teacher?
Jim: Mrs. Worlock taught my high school art class and was, without doubt, my favorite teacher. Aside from the fact that she was kind and truly cared about her students, Mrs. Warlock was simply a good instructor.

While her class covered what you’d expect in a high school art class, it wasn’t one you could skate by- it was a challenging class. Not only were we intellectually and artistically stimulated, Mrs. Worlock always did an excellent job getting us excited about art. She provided instruction that demonstrated artistic concepts while allowing freedom of expression in all our assignments. I also remember being especially intrigued with her sections on art history and the work of Paul Cézanne. Imagine successfully getting rural high schoolers excited about art history!

On a particularly memorable assignment, I felt the push to experiment: my project was going to be really BIG. I ventured out and bought a large piece of a bulletin board and was trying my best to figure out what to do with it… then inspiration struck.

I collected water, Elmer’s glue, and toilet paper. After mixing the glue and water, I soaked the toilet paper into the mixture and threw it at the board. The paper stuck and dried! After repeating this simple process, the board was transformed into an interesting, textured canvas.

Once my custom canvas dried, I found a deep dark blue oil paint to cover the entirety of the board. The resulting artwork was large and oddly shaped, so I cut it into three, one big piece and two smaller pieces. To complete my assignment, I crafted frames for each.

When I presented my finished project, Mrs. Worlock loved the artwork. She told me she wanted to buy the largest piece but due to expecting a child at the time, she offered to trade a custom, handmade knit sweater in exchange. This would be my very first art sale. I gladly accepted her terms and proudly wore my sweater throughout college.


Deep Blue

Was this the class that launched you into a creative career?
Jim: My artistic spirit laid dormant for a long time after Mrs. Worlock’s class. I managed to hold onto one of the smaller pieces of the trio through the years, serving as a reminder of my latent painting abilities.

In fact, I did not paint consistently until 2012 at the age of 63.

Have you noticed influences from your teacher in any areas of your career?
Jim: Years later I noticed my painting Deep Blue is very reminiscent of that high school art piece. You never know where or how memories or previous experiences from your life may come to the surface.

Do you have any parting advice for others who think they may have “missed their chance” or are uncertain if they should pursue a creative outlet at their age?
Jim: You’re never too late to start doing something you love. These things can go dormant for decades, but that doesn’t have to mean they’re lost. It’s like I’ve said before: “There is a Van Gogh, Beethoven, and Emily Dickinson inside everyone.”