Columnist and business savant turned painter, Dick Yarbrough shares his journey of uncovering and mastering a new skill – and the lessons he’s earned in doing so.
Written by Dick Yarbrough
It has been said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This old dog begs to differ. After retiring as a vice president of BellSouth Corporation and a stint as a managing director of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, I had embarked on my current career as a syndicated newspaper columnist. Then I learned I could paint.
That revelation came at the urging of my next-door neighbor, Bootsie Callaham, herself an artist of note (and now a fellow resident at Corso Atlanta) to try my hand at painting. I had always enjoyed sketching but putting paint to canvas would be a whole new experience.
Thanks to an encouraging instructor, Kristopher Meadows, I learned the
importance of shapes, values and edges and what happens when you mix any
combination of red, yellow and blue. And I discovered I could paint a lick.
I have a painting that hangs at the Georgia State Capitol and another at the College
of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick. I have paintings in private collections and have had the opportunity to exhibit my works at various art shows.
But more importantly, art taught me several lessons beyond putting paint to
canvas. Through art, I have learned patience, never one of my strong suits. You
simply can’t paint in a hurry. I have learned humility. Some days, the oils flow and I think I have it mastered. And then some days, I feel like a rank beginner.
I have learned that everything doesn’t have to be a competition. My classmates are all excellent painters but we are supporters of each other, not competitors. We simply appreciate being together and no one is trying to be better than anyone else. A love of painting is the equalizer. Thus, I have learned to enjoy life more. To have something I can look forward to doing and the challenge of trying to get better at it.
My corporate colleagues would be amazed at the transformation from the left-brain prickly personality they once knew to the paint-splattered and relaxed right-brainer who now expresses himself through his art. This old dog learned a new trick and discovered that there is no age limit to learning. That’s the most important lesson of all.