Leslie C. Kouba, dean of Minnesota's wildlife artists, is a self-made man who described himself as 52 percent businessman and 48 percent artist.
I've made my way in this world by following three principles: First, pick the thing you like to do best; then, learn everything you can about it; and finally, be willing to work harder than anyone else in that field.
Kouba's secret to success: work.
It's that simple."
My father, continues Kouba
, contributed to my early appreciation of nature.
taught me a lot of the little tricks in hunting, trapping, and later, fishing.
instilled in me, at an early age, the sheer enjoyment of being outdoors.
decided early in life that farming wasn't for him.
I knew I could draw when I was about 8 years old.
I think I made up my mind about then that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.
In fact, says Kouba
, many of the buildings on the farm still show traces of my early enthusiastic attempts at painting.
And I was quite convinced Iwas on the right track when I sold my first painting at age 11 to a prosperous German farmer who lived near Hutchinson.
That first painting was of a deer at the water's edge with some pine trees in the background, remembers Kouba
I sold that painting for eight dollars, a king's ransom in those days" says Kouba
It doesn't seem like much by today's standards, but keep in mind that was in 1928, 'when a dime was as big as a wagon wheel.' To put it into perspective, my father's total income from his
dairy business was $22 for the month.
That early sale went a long way in convincing Kouba's parents that his
artistic skills were worth developing.
Kouba's parents supported Les's interest in art by enrolling him at age 14 in a correspondence course sponsored by the Federal Schools
The name has been changed since I went there, says Kouba
It's now known as Art Instruction, the 'Draw-Me' school.
It offers all the basics but it doesn't overly influence technique.
You don't end up painting like your instructor.
I really learned a lot from that school.
I will always be thankful that I had the opportunity to take the course.
Many artists I've found today, says Kouba
, could benefit from some of those early lessons.
Less passed away in 1998.
This information was taken from Kouba's book, The Legacy of Les C. Kouba
, p 11-12.