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About the Artist

Joseph (Jerry) Yarnell



Jerry Yarnell was born in Tulsa, 1953. His early art hung everywhere, from relative’s homes to his high school hallways. A wonderful high school teacher, Opal Thorpe, introduced Jerry to the art world. She believed he had talent and she gave him more real art instruction than any other teacher. She also gave him special privileges. Instead of being in class with the other students she allowed Jerry to paint by himself in an empty room during school.

Another early influence was a well-known portrait artist, Diane Bailey Woodruff. She lived around the corner from the house he grew up in Tulsa. He would baby-sit for her. In return she allowed Jerry to roam around her studio, examine her artwork, ask questions, and learn painting techniques.

While still in high school Jerry won two scholarships to the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa Oklahoma. Philbrook has a wonderful art program. The school was mostly modern art and some impressionism art. On his first day of class his assignment was to paint two nude models. Jerry was not excited about this type of art instruction. He wanted to learn realism from successful artists. He never returned to class and gave up his scholarship.

Being an artist was Jerry's only ambition. A gallery in Tulsa, the Nelson Portrait Studio asked him to hang a painting. It hadn't been there long when a rodeo announcer was in town and bought his painting. Jerry sold his first painting for $200.00. He was so elated he ran all the way home to show his parents how much money one could make as an artist. That first sell made his mind up on having a career in art.

Soon he was invited to participate in the school's 'art-in-action' program. Well-known artists were asked to demonstrate. The crowds were large and watching the instructors and participants was exactly the kind of art education he was looking for. At 19 he was asked to teach art lessons. By the time he was 21, he had one or two workshops a week, traveling all over the Midwest. He was teaching 60 to 70 students a week. Thus his art career really began as a teacher.

Early in his career he was making a good living at teaching, but he was not able to concentrate on developing his own style of art. He was becoming frustrated. One day he got a phone call from one of his former students. He was retiring and opening a gallery in Taos, New Mexico. He offered Jerry an artist-in-residence position. Immediately he sold his house and packed the station wagon. The day he arrived in Taos he unloaded his car and sold six paintings.

Jerry is never satisfied with his artwork . . . but he believes that if he works hard enough and disciplines himself he will become a better artist. That is why he admires artist Owen Gromme, who was still painting in his 90's, improving his craft. He admires Andrew Wyeth because he built his reputation on subjects that were within 30 miles of his home. Jerry is impressed with the work of impressionistic wildlife artist Bob Abbett. Today he is mostly impressed with the artwork of Richard Schmidt.

Jerry at a young age was doing very well selling his artwork in Taos, but his dream did not last very long. Family and life changing events brought him back home to Oklahoma and he began teaching again. After years of holding successful painting workshops and seminars, Jerry mastered the art of speaking and painting at the same time.

In the early 80's he taped his classes to help some of his students. One of his students took the tape to a PBS station in Missouri. A representative of Grumbacher saw one of his early programs. He liked what he saw and before Jerry knew it he was offered a contract. One thing led to another and The Inspiration of Painting TV series was born.

Jerry’s career as an Artist was interrupted for several years when he was discovered to have Non-Hodgkin’s B-Cell Lymphoma in 1995. With strong faith in God, and the success of a stem cell transplant, Jerry has successfully fought for his life.

In 2009 Jerry discontinued promoting his old shows called Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art and separated himself from his previous affiliation with Company Yarnell Art to include his former website yarnellart.com. In 2010 as part of a bold move and massive undertaking, Jerry began recording all new materials for his new TV Show Paint This with Jerry Yarnell, for his portfolio of DVD instructional materials, and for his new 24/7 school Yarnell School Online. While Jerry’s business name remains Yarnell Studio & School of Fine Art LLC,  his new and only official teaching website is now www.YarnellSchool.com -- easily recognized by its background color which is his signature royal blue.
As always, Jerry’s unique style can be viewed on PBS and NRB networks and is very popular in Canada and overseas. The show Paint This with Jerry Yarnell is far superior in quality over his former Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art shows in that the new shows represent the culmination of his over 30 years of experience as a professional artist. As well the technology used to record Jerry's new shows is now HD -- bringing a much clearer image to viewers. The new series is ever-evolving and includes instructional videos for beginners, intermediate and advanced students with subject matter ranging from composition to advanced painting techniques.


Jerry is the author of thirteen books on painting instruction. He is often invited to be the keynote speaker for entertainment or educational purposes for schools, civic groups, environmental groups, corporate meetings and conventions, as well as, lay speaker for church services and related activities. Jerry’s love for teaching also keeps him very busy holding workshops across the United States and private lessons in his studio.

Jerry has always had a great passion for nature and that theme was evident in his early work and continues to be a major focus in his artwork today. He has been rewarded for his dedication with numerous awards and his work has been received enthusiastically from shows to galleries across the country.

Above all Jerry is quick to tell you that God gets all the glory for his success. With strong faith in God, his new bride by his side, and his love of art, he is painting at a level like never before... Joseph and his wife Donna reside near their Studio nestled in the beautiful Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma.

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