The genesis story of every creative individual is unique; Evergreen artist Ted Garcia is no different. From a young, punk teen with little direction to the soft-spoken, humble and accomplished artist of today, Ted Garcia’s story is one to behold.
Self-discipline, open-mindedness, and a willingness to be versatile are the qualities that have molded Ted’s career. Raised by a single mom who worked tirelessly to support them, Ted had a lot of extra time on his hands, time he used to get into trouble. He describes his younger self as quite the “hellion.” To combat boredom and bullies, Ted discovered martial arts in his Commerce City community, an interest that turned out to be a passion he continues today. While karate fed young Ted’s physical needs with workouts, structure and discipline, art became the outlet for his creative side, but not for some time.
From an early age, Ted recalls how he always enjoyed drawing: “I was the desk doodle guy. I’d go home and return the next day to a clean slate. My teacher would ask, ‘What will you be drawing today?’” Peers also recognized his talent and would ask for sketches or drawings for different reasons from yearbook to customized car decals. He never thought anything of his artistic skills because he was on track to play baseball in college. When those plans went awry and Ted floundered in the post-high school work world, his mom suggested going to college for art. She immediately scheduled an appointment with the Colorado Institute of Art (CIA).
A nervous Ted and his mother attended the “interview” at CIA where he was asked for a portfolio of work. He didn’t have one, but said he could create a few drawings that evening and return tomorrow, which is what he did. But before going back, he decided to ask the school’s art teacher her opinion of his drawings. She commented, “I don’t think you should pursue art.” With all of the wind knocked out of his sails, Ted still brought those drawings to the admissions committee. Their response: “You want to go to school here? These are really good!”
Art school introduced Ted to a world of different artistic mediums as well as his future wife, Lori. Interestingly, he left art school with the goal of becoming a fantasy artist like his hero, Frank Frazetta. However, he soon learned staying in one type of artistic medium didn’t pay off. Rather, being versatile invited more job opportunities. And since Ted could pretty much draw anything, many doors opened for him.
Ted’s forte is illustration, his wife’s is graphic design. Together they are the perfect combination for businesses seeking to develop their brand. Ted creates and designs logos and all accompanying artwork (pins, hats, stickers, etc.), then passes the baton to Lori who works on overall layout, aesthetics and text. A few of the companies they’ve worked with are Honey Smoked Salmon, Good Times Burgers, and Breckenridge Brewery. The dynamic duo has been successfully working together for over 20 years.
As an illustrator, Ted’s tools include pen and ink, sometimes acrylics, and pastels. He didn’t dabble in oil paints until 2000 when he took an oil painting class with Russian impressionist painter, Don Sahli. Little did he know those classes would change the direction of his life. Ted jumped into oil painting like a child does a swimming pool. While skeptical at first, he fell in love with the impressionist style of painting because of the lack of detail necessary. Unlike his realistic drawings, impressionism is softer and meant to allow the brain to fill in the details.
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. On December 31, 2008, Ted took that colloquialism to a whole different level when he embarked on his “one-plein-air-painting-a-day” journey. Plein air painting is the creation of a piece of work in one sitting. There is no going back to alter. Ted wanted to know what a consistent practice as such would be like. Initially, he intended to go 365 days, but after reading an article about how Vincent van Gogh completed 700 paintings in his lifetime, Ted passed his original goal and continued for two years, breaking van Gogh’s record. The self-discipline Ted developed in martial arts came into play as he continued his daily commitment through “blizzards, heat waves, illness, deaths, births, impalement, wild animals, and even losing his way, finding his way, and surviving an earthquake to complete this journey” (tedgarcia.com).
When Ted happened upon another article that detailed Claude Monet’s astounding accomplishment of 2,000 paintings in a lifetime, he thought, why stop now? All in all, Ted Garcia completed 2,014 (the year he finished his journey) plein air paintings in a five-year period. Each piece was completed in an outdoor plein air fashion on 5×7 and 24×36 sized canvases. PBS did a whole special on his grand accomplishment which can be viewed on his website.
In 2014, Ted and Lori found a unique exhibit space to display all of his beautifully vivid paintings in the Aspen Grove Shopping Center in Littleton. While raising two children and continuing to work in tandem with businesses, the couple spent almost five years operating the Littleton gallery, selling over 1,140 of Ted’s paintings!
Ted Garcia’s artistic versatility has allowed him to make a good living while continuing to do what he loves: spend quality time with family, compete in plein air competitions, practice martial arts, and teach and mentor budding artists. At present, his artwork is on display at Evergreen Gallery, and if you’d like to check out Ted’s entire plein air collection and learn more about the journey, visit tedgarcia.com.