I wish everyone could see what I see.
I live on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I can draw, so why not share what I see?
Drawing was my first love. Most children draw, and I kept drawing because of my father, Ben Firth. His taxidermy business was a steppingstone to fulltime art, and he brought me along for the ride, giving me exercises, assigning projects, and encouraging me to enter competitions. When I won State Best of Show in Alaska’s Jr. Duck Stamp contest, it was with my colored pencils. Daddy preferred black and white; I liked color. I still like color, but these days I am also returning to the sophisticated simplicity of monochrome in both drawings and paintings.
Monochrome paintings were part of the exercise program when I spent a year working through Jack Reid’s excellent book, Watercolor Basics: Let’s Get Started. I admired the work of skillful watercolor painters, but when I tried watercolor on my own, it was disappointingly sloppy. The thorough, step-by-step exercises gave me the techniques I needed to gain control of the medium that is my current favorite. I love its freshness, its spontaneity, and the fact that in spite of my acquired control, I can never predict just exactly what the paint is going to do.
My watercolors are mostly landscapes, but they also build a bridge to a world I’ve begun to explore with delight: figure drawing. I once took a photograph of one of my sisters standing on an Alaskan lakeshore, and it begged to become a painting. Several years later, I was skillful enough to attempt the piece, and it became my painting “Princess.” The figure came out so well, it encouraged me to try drawing more people. Now, with study, sketching from life, and just plain people-watching, I may have more portrait projects planned and in process than anything else!
My passion for these lasting mediums was fueled by my passion for an ephemeral one: ice. Fairbanks, Alaska hosts the Ice Art World Championships every February/March. I grew up rubbing elbows with the best ice sculptors from Russia, Japan, Thailand, the Netherlands, China, and more. I carved in my first amateur competition at age 16, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve won awards in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Soldotna, Alaska, competing on teams with my dad, brothers, and mom. My brother Silas and I placed 5th in the Realistic Division of the Single Block event in February 2015, out of 18 teams of the world’s best sculptors. Carving ice is a good reminder that no art lasts forever; that, in the end, art is not about creating a permanent object, but about changing people.
I want to make the world a better place. I want to reflect the glory of God and the kingship of his Son. I want you to be able to see what I can see.