Artist Claims Too Many Ideas And Not Enough Time



More ideas than time to paint is the only creative lament of retired high school art teacher, Donn Morris.

In his spacious studio, the walls are filled with pictures of former students, his own art, art that has impressed him and a flying pig and a rubber chicken in a noose that keep watch over his brush strokes.

Then there are the four pictures in various stages of completion.

"Shootin' the Breeze," a study of two female mounted shooter contestants who have stopped to chat between events.

He saw a portrait in a magazine while on a cruise done in black and white on blue paper and recalled a rodeo cowboy he had a slide of at home that would make a perfect study in the three colors.

In a smaller watercolor, penguins stand on an iceberg in the Antarctic, where he and his wife celebrated their recent golden anniversary.

Then there's the self-portrait.

He wanted to combine a picture of himself with the kind of pictures he normally creates -- the contemporary West with its rodeos, Indian powwows, people and animals.

But it is his wife of 50 years, Carolee, "who has really supported me in everything I have ever tried to do" who tops Morris' priority list.

"She wisely saved and handled the funds, she keeps my ego in check and she is an excellent photographer," Morris said.

His other priorities? "Travel, art, my friends, family and camping," he said, a broad smile between his moustache and trim beard.

Priorities met, Morris is active in the community he came to by accident 15 years ago.


"Rode Hard" from a photo Donn Morris took at a Payson rodeo. The cowboy with his head down was just thrown, so his buddies at the fence are giving him space.

"The first time through, we were on our way to Maine (from California)," he said. "We stopped on the way back to camp at milepost 250 and see if it was real."

The couple decided to relocate immediately.

"We have met the finest group of true friends that anybody could have," he said. "When they hug you, you've been hugged. Payson has grown, but that hasn't changed."

The contemporary West, with its rodeos, Indian powwows, and people have always come to life under Morris's brush and pen.

An active participant in the Payson Art League, Morris can often be found in front of an easel in local schools with dozens of pairs of eyes locked on the drawing emerging from under his marker.

Later, the students are full of smiles as he encourages their own works of art.

Morris is also a docent of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation.

And he takes his sketchbook in hand, wherever he goes.

He does not do the same thing, but he is involved in art each day.

"When we travel and I sketch, I become involved," he said. "I am always the last in line."

Confident as a third-grader that art would be his life, Morris' art was what was held up as a good example in school. "It was like feeding the dog the bone. You say, roll over Fido and Fido rolls over and gets his treat. I got my snacks for drawing good pictures."

Still he said, self-esteem was hard-won.

Morris was doing poorly in college, so he dropped out and found success as an Army Green Beret.

"Any person who can jump out of an airplane at a thousand feet can do anything," he said.

"If you start with no self esteem at all and then you begin to challenge yourself and succeed, you know then that you can do anything you truthfully set out to do."

After the Army, Morris completed his education. He spent 35 years in the classroom to earn a retirement spent on the art he loves.

He is primarily a Western artist, but if something else attracts his attention, like a water buffalo in Africa, out comes the sketchbook and later the brushes and paints.

Morris is a featured artist at Artists of the Rim Gallery for January along with Conrad Chapek.

Chapek was a Rim Review featured artist Sept. 13, 2006. His story is online at


A saddle on the ground is as good a place as any to grab some grub for this li'l cowpoke in "Hot Dog."


Name: Donn Morris

Mediums: Watercolor, oil, acrylic, pen and ink (and his own matting and framing).

Decided to become an artist: Third grade.

Detour: A Green Beret Army medic.

Career: 35 years teaching high school art, English, history and drafting.

Advice to beginning artists: Take the time to learn how to draw. Find a good teacher. Gain the tool, then become creative.

Recommended book: "The Source," by James A. Michener

Points of contact: (928) 472-6310 or Artists of the Rim Gallery, 408 W. Main St., Payson, (928) 472-1159.

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