Michael Lindberg (IG @Dustybrockway) is an elementary school teacher who was searching for a new way to relax after work that wasn’t a “flickering screen”. Through the guidance of the ever lovely, calming, and wonderful Bob Ross, he found art. Read his interview to learn about his art journey, the importance of experimentation, and the beauty of motivating others.

Tell us about your journey and what made you want to start drawing?

A few years ago I was looking for an outlet that was affordable and easy to maintain. While watching an episode of the beloved Joy of Painting, I was inspired to research oil paints to emulate Bob Ross’ style. After seeing the price tag on materials, I changed my plans. Oil paints and buying all the necessary tools is expensive however pencils are not. That was my initial steps into becoming committed to the craft. Since the start, I’ve encountered many different people who have encouraged and motivated me to continue working at drawing. There is a local Drink and Draw where I live in Vancouver, Washington; the people who began that group have been central to keeping me motivated. They accepted me in when my skills were very basic and mostly lacking. They have continued to be there for me as we’ve grown our community. I continue to be involved in whatever way I can with them. The Instagram community has been incredibly supportive as well. These strangers and acquaintance have been generous with their time and words. The sheer number of them show how many talented artists are in the world trying to make the human condition more beautiful. As my own journey goes on I want to pay forward to other artists the encouragement and motivation that was so central to my beginnings.

We can see that there is a lot of thought, consideration, and experimentation in your drawings. What goes through your mind when you first start a piece? How do you know what you are going to draw next?

A lot of the time there is only a basic idea of what will happen to the page when I start. I feel an urgency to draw something every day even if it doesn’t work or is not completed. My personal favorites usually start from a theme, story, or expressions. The story then shapes the art which I think is far more interesting than something that’s nice to look at. Those themes, stories, or expressions come from such varied places that I never am sure where inspiration will strike next.

Why MC Escher and Bob Ross?

Both Escher and Ross have been in my mind since as long as I can remember. I’ve been drawn to MC Escher’s work even before I knew his name. The way he was able to manipulate perspectives and create such clean work always captivated me. His lines and composition are in a book on my drawing desk.
Bob Ross is another figure who I cannot remember not knowing about. Bob’s serene style and the feeling he put behind his paintings inspire me. There is an emotional quality to his pieces that I strive to put into my own works. Moreover, he had a work-ethic about his art that was stunning for such a seemingly laid-back person: showing how talent and effort are both need for something to work.

How important is experimentation in art to you? How do you like to experiment?

Experimentation is vital to breaking out of the habits we build for ourselves. There is comfort in producing the same things over and over but it doesn’t allow for growth. Going beyond a certain level of comfort helps produce things that would otherwise never exist. For me, I often dislike the first several times I try a new skill. First attempts quietly get thrown away or recycled. What makes the cut is usually parts or fragments of things I’ve tried: this is especially true with color. Color is an example of me getting really excited about something and realizing that the pros just make it look easy. By trying and failing at watercolor, I’ve learned the parts that I can do and work those into other pieces I am working on.

How did you come up with your goal “to create drawings and illustrations which help people relax?”

Back when I was first starting, I was looking for a small hobby that would help me in the evenings after work. I am an elementary school teacher and I wanted to find something to help me relax that wasn’t a flickering screen. My pencil and small sketchbook helped with that. If something I do helps find a sense of calm within myself, then maybe it can help others too.

How do you like to encourage and motivate others on your platform?

I’ve found a lot of people just like to be acknowledged and talked to; often that is all that is needed to motivate them. Artists have moments of self-doubt and need encouragement and support. A kind word or a specific observation of the quality of their art has amazing outcomes for their self-esteem and determination. I believe in paying it forward and sharing kindness.

What are 3 important things that you’ve learned as an artist?

The most important skills I have learned as an artist are patience, persistence, and perspective. Patience to understand that not every drawing works and an idea will come along with the right inertia to impart motion into a better piece. Persistence to see a project though even when it would very easy to set it aside. And perspective to accept that even if I feel something isn’t my best, the long-game is what is important when it comes to creating artwork. How will I feel about this in a year? 5 years?

What is your favorite Pentalic product? Why?

My favorite Pentalic product has to be the spiral-bound sketchbooks. The paper quality is just right for the kind of work I do and the thicker cover has saved a couple near-heartbreaking moments with spills and disasters.

How and where can people get a Dustybrockway print or original?

Contacting me is the most sure-fire way to get something you love from me. Email me Michael@artbydustybrockway.com or direct message me on Instagram @dustybrockway. I do have an Etsy page for some things etsy.com/shop/ArtbyDustyBrockway. Also a little-known Design By Humans if someone is looking for a t-shirt designbyhumans.com/shop/dustybrockway/.

To see more of Michaels work Follow him on his Instagram @dustybrockway