Creative Power

“All that I have in my mind comes out on the canvas. I see horses in thunderstorms, mighty seas breaking on the rocks. And golden sunsets! Oh, so vibrating and powerful! They are all stories.” – Bill Alexander

Bill had an incredible imagination. In every one of Bill’s television shows, he always painted what he saw in his mind. Bill did not need to create one or two or three paintings before he went before the cameras because he was a real artist. Every one of Bill’s creations was an “original”. The reference photo Bill used was in his head. In this edited transcript from Bill’s “Alaskan Hideaway” video, which I have mentioned before, Bill tells us how he uses creative power to begin a painting.

“People ask me, how the devil do you start? Let me give you a little bit of a rundown about creative power. In the beginning I had to see something to paint. I’ve painted for forty years and I think about what is our world? If you paint a scene – a seascape or a landscape – you must think that there’s a sky, there is land and there is water, that’s Mother Earth. So let’s start off by talking about the sky. The sky can be a rain sky, a sunny sky, a sunset sky, a sunrise sky, there can be a snow sky, there can be a cloudy sky with openings in the clouds. Think about that for a bit. In order to put something on the canvas I have to talk to myself and I think about those things. For now, I will just talk aloud about what I’m thinking. So OK, about the sky, you should be able to pick a sky now. In our lifetimes, we have been rained on and seen snow storms and many other kinds of things, so why can’t I paint a sky with openings, to let the sun through or close the sun completely out or let the sun through and have sun patches on the field and have shadows. You see how you can create an image in your mind just by talking like that? Then you think about land. What’s land? There’s flat land like what you might see in, say, Montana. Beautiful Montana! Montana without wind is not Montana. And the grass is rolling. And it is a flat field, but then you see all kinds of colors on plowed fields and there is fresh green grass or corn or rye or wheat standing up in the fields or the crops are half grown or just beginning to grow. It depends on the season. Is it Spring or Summer or is it Autumn time? So you can think about those things and pick a certain time. And then, fine, then you say you come out of Montana into Idaho and you see, all of a sudden, the mountains getting bigger and bigger. And then, suddenly, right in front of you, the most beautiful mountain you have ever seen. You can go up to the East Coast and have the tree covered hills, or you can go to New England with more hills. You have hills even here in Oregon, with trees on them which you don’t have on the high mountains. Try to think which of these images you’d like to paint. Fine, then it’s water. There can be a lake, there can be a run-off, all kinds of streams coming down the hill. The streams can come by this way, they can come by that way, they can come towards you, they can just rush by and sometimes you have rapids, you have waterfalls. Now you have a complete image in your mind. I’m just trying to make a picture with words for you.
I have learned to do that. I don’t need to see a picture anymore. I put myself in a certain mood. And that’s why I like to talk, first of all, about putting ourselves in a certain mood (or state of mind) in order to put those images on that almighty canvas. Here you have a white canvas – there’s nothing on it. And I must know, in my mind, before I start, what I want to put on there! See, that will come when you become a real powerful artist. It took me most of my life. I’m seventy years old and I know right now what I’m doing. I feel so comfortable – I can not even miss, it is impossible for me to do wrong because I have brainwashed myself to such a point that I think I’m the greatest artist on earth. You know, next to God. When I talk about me, I wish you would think like that. See that’s what made me what I am. When you are seventy, you live on borrowed time. The time will come when you are where I am and I want to see you have that power. I want to see you painting — creating. Creative power makes one a real human being. It made me a different human being. Yet, creative power is not only on the canvas. If you come to my home you will see a paradise. And I mean it is a paradise. Because I create on the land, on trees, I talk to the trees. I talk to my fish, I have a hatchery – I bring life into the world. And it is all because of the creative power that comes from your being an artist. You are a living artist. You are not a dead pigeon. Try to think about that because this (creative power) makes you into a different person. Your wife will like you better, or other way round, your husband will like you better because you are a different person. I’m not grumbling, I’m not mumbling. I’m very, very happy with myself. It is a wonderful way of living to be a real artist.” Bill was passionate about painting but he was more passionate about teaching you to paint. He dedicated his life to being the best teacher he could be. He knew what creative power felt like and he wanted you to know what it feels like too. Next time: What’s your story?

More Than A Painter

William "Bill" Alexander

William “Bill” Alexander

Bill Alexander was more than a painter. He was more than an artist.

When you watch Bill’s videos you will not only see someone who paints beautiful images; but, if you listen to what he says while he is painting, you will learn what makes Bill’s contribution to art so very important.

As a kid I loved watching cartoons. In fact, I still do. I grew up with the cartoons of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Woody Woodpecker. But my favorite cartoon character was Popeye the Sailor. I loved Popeye because of what he said “between the lines”. Some folks might call it “muttering”; but Popeye’s “mutterings” contained true pearls of wisdom and were an expression of his views of life. If you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t hear them and they would be lost forever.

When I watch Bill paint it’s as much for his philosophy and words of wisdom as it is to learn how he creates his images. This is what makes Bill’s work so very important for all of us who care about him and are interested in furthering his work.

Bill’s greatest contribution to art was not his paintings, although they are wonderful images conjured up in the mind of a truly imaginative genius.

Bill’s greatest contribution was not his television shows although they were important in getting him known and exposing his work to a broader audience than the hundreds of folks who would flock to the shopping malls to watch him paint early in his career.

Bill’s greatest contribution was not even the model he gave us of his own life and career as interesting and astounding as that was.

Bill’s greatest gift to all of us was to show us that we could create art; that we could become the artist. That we had, within us, an ability to express ourselves in a creative and imaginative way that would empower us to become greater than we dare believed we were.

I have watched many, many artists on YouTube. What I find interesting about most of them is that they really show you little more than how well they paint. I wonder how many folks, after watching some of these painting demonstrations actually pick up a paint brush and start their own art journey. I’m sure there are a few; but it was Bill’s dream that every single person he met would pick up that brush and begin to paint.

In the most recent video we posted on YouTube with the late artist Diane Andre, Bill states, very clearly, his concern about being “only one Bill Alexander”. It was during this period he began to build a training program which would include a cadre of artists who would sweep across America and the world training more and more people to paint.

I truly believe, in Bill’s heart, he felt that painting and art would free people from the chains of fear, inadequacy, and self doubt that he, himself, experienced in his life. Painting would help them become confident, creative individuals who would not only create art for themselves, but would become so excited about their new skills that they would want to continue their journey by teaching others what they learned and experienced.

We know that in order to become better at anything, you need to teach. Only by teaching will the lessons learned become an integral part of your very being. Only by teaching will you reach your fullest potential. Only by teaching can you truly empower another human being to become all they can be.

I have no doubt that if Bill could have taught every single human being on the planet, one on one, to paint, he would have done it. But he couldn’t. However, in the video he also introduced us to the beginnings of the Alexander Certification program.

Near the end of his career, Bill extracted a promise from Laurie to continue his work after he was gone. This is a promise we take very seriously at Alexander Art. It is our driving mission and in the coming months you will see how very serious we are about this!

Bill’s entire life was about giving to others. You can see that in every video he made. The words of encouragement to his viewers to “fire in” with that paint brush, the lightheartedness while he worked to show how enjoyable painting was, and the glee he exuded as he poked fun at the blank canvas were as important as the paintings themselves.

Join us in our campaign to empower old and new students alike with the Bill Alexander method of painting. Help us wake up the creativity that lives in all of us. And help us spread Bill’s mission to everyone on the planet.

You Can Paint, We Promise!

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photo of bill in front of Old MacDonald's Farm painting

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bill looking at self portrait

William (Bill) Alexander

April 2, 1915 – January 24, 1997

a child painting seascape

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