FAIRMONT - Peanuts and beer, bread and dipping oil, farmscapes.
These are some of the topics of Joe Burns Jr.'s painting on exhibition this month at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont.
Burns says he chooses his topics - still-life paintings and portraits - based on what people like and might want to see in their homes.
An oil painting of peanuts and beer is the featured work of Joe Burns Jr., artist of the month at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont.
It is a eye for what people want that Burns honed during his 20 years as a commercial artist.
After graduating from Fairmont High in 1982, he went to vocational school in Mankato, focusing on package and logo design. Eventually, he ended up in the Twin Cities.
During his tenure in commercial design, Burns occasionally did some painting, but largely left his dream on the sidelines.
"I had never been serious about being a fine artist," he said.
His desire to paint never left him altogether, though, and with the support of his wife, he decided to go back to school to study realistic painting.
"I have always liked drawing and painting what I see," he said. "I don't want to pretend what something is with abstraction."
For four years, Burns spent every weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. painting and drawing under the eye of his instructor.
Burns graduated from The Atelier just one year ago, and has been working on producing paintings for this show ever since.
He has scheduled another showing in Minneapolis in August.
"I have been able to fulfill my dream of being a painter," he said.
Many of Burns' works display food, but he also enjoys portraiture.
"I enjoy getting a great likeness," he said.
He said he is fortunate that he is able to follow his passion, as it is difficult to make it as a full-time artist without financial assistance.
"I've got a wife who works full time," he said, "and supports me greatly and that helps. If you have to support yourself, that is really tough."
Burns' paintings will be available for viewing throughout July. An artist's reception is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. July 15.
Twenty-eight paintings will be on display, including open air paintings Burns created at Heritage Acres in Fairmont, two portraits and several food still-lifes.