Painting By The Numbers

I always wanted to draw, and paint. I tried, too, a bunch of times, and never got the handle on it. I stunk, and even with repeated efforts, never seemed to improve… at all. So I finally gave up on it.

An early attempt at drawing.

That is, until some computer software gave me the chance to see how my attempts might have turned out had I actually had any drawing/painting ability. I roomed with an excellent water color artist in Boston for a time, and he grew my appreciation for the art immeasurably. One of the things I learned from him was that the subject, and composition of said subject was very important… as important as was the technique used in rendering a good work of art.

My collection of cameras that I used from 1950 to 1974, when I got a Konica.

See, I found photography during my grade school years and have taken thousands of pictures from then until now. It has always seemed the closest I could come to any attempt at graphic art. So when I discovered, several years back, that there were available software designed to turn normal pictures into different kinds of water colors, I hopped on that wagon.

I have to tell you, it’s been a blast. The program I use, Pro Water Color Studio, has 26 different renderings of my picture, with multiple adjustments of the layers. Plenty of options to satisfy my artistic attempts. There are others, of course, more expensive and more detailed, but this one suits my purposes perfectly.

Along those same lines, I also discovered Dalle-E 2, chatGPT’s AI creator of text-to-image, along with Deep Dream AI and Starry AI… all wonderfully creative apps that, well, how else can I say it, surprise and delight! I’m having a gteat time with them and I want to share some of it with you.

My subjects are all people, places and things that I love. Top of the list, People: my Betty and Dillon. Places: Montana trout streams and our island here. Things: Tall ships, hot cars and airplanes. And here we go!

People:Betty, canoeing on Branham Lake, in the Tobacco Root mountains of SW Montana, using Pro Water Color Studio, capturing the dimensions of color and her indomitable adventurous spirit.

Betty & Hemmie, cozy and safe in the AI clouds of Starry AI


My son Dillon and I, here on the island, two years ago.

Dil & Hemmie, napping peacefully in the alternative reality known as artificial intelligence.


My home in Montana for 18 years, the Tavern Saloon, the bar my folks owned and ran for 31 years. Yes, Dorothy, one can grow up in a bar and not become a derelict. Guess who else grew up in a bar in Montana and survived it? Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing in the tv series “Dallas.”


An AI version of my old cabin in Montana. If you ever saw it, you would see the difference. I kind of like it.


My old cabin on Lake burton, in North Georgia. It’s also a little different, though the cabin looks essentially the same. AI can play strange tricks on photographs.

And of course a digital water color rendering of our current home here on the island. The morning sun is warming and welcome on that old man!

  A fishing day on the Big Hole with  Patrick McClellan. What a fantastic day! Who doesn’t love fishing Montana’s rivers and streams? It a simultaneous meditation and a celebration of nature’s beauty.

And Things:

A wrecked sailboat about 3 miles from our home. I would prefer these watercolor renderings be a little looser technically, but this is as close as I could come.

An AI rendering of the aft part of a tall ship. Okay,” secrets” time. I’ve always dreamed of being on and living in a tall ship, specifically in that aft section with the slanty windows. Why that is so appealing to me i have no earthly idea, but there you have it. One of my dream homes, in living digital water color.

No, I didn’t do this one, but want to include it as I love those old PBY Catalinas, and so appreciate what they did on the Pacific Front during WW II. They spotted and destroyed Japanese subs, while rescuing downed flyers. They could stay in the air on an average of 28 hours at a time. Hell, back in the ’60’s I could do that, too!

And finally, my Mustang! To me it’s still a thing of beauty, both in style and in function. Comfortable, dependable and quicker than, well, you know. Anyway, this is my gallery for now. I’ll probably do this again in the future… it’s fun, theraputic and even a little bit creative. Try it sometime, with your favorite subjects… it’s easy! If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be doing it, I assure you!

Steve Hulse

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