GEORGIA – Georgia’s Don Dunnam scrolled through his phone to find what, in a spur of the moment decision, he decided was his favorite painting. Finally coming across a photo of the painting, he stretched the photo out to fill his cellphone’s frame and, after a quick hesitation, he turned his phone forward.

“I called it ‘Spirit Beach,’” he said, explaining that the name was more of an accident.

Wisps of white twisted into a set of wooden browns. The white dragged north toward a pool of different blues that grew darker the further the eye pulled away from the painting’s white horizon. A fence was stretched across the lower quarter of the painting, with a ‘Keep Out!’ sign hung on one of the posts.

He pointed toward the white wisps that, upon closer inspection, bubbled through the painting. Two circles of blue bled through one of the wisps, looking almost like eyes.

“It was an ocean and a beach that I was going for,” Dunnam said. “But the surge had all these ghost-like things in it… so I called that one ‘Spirit Beach’ and it sold like that.”

Dunnam snapped his fingers.

Dunnam, who, with his partner, runs a hilltop bed and breakfast along a Georgia backroad, wouldn’t describe himself as an artist. It’s far from a full-time job for him, and he doesn’t make his living off of the few commissions and paintings he does sell.

His friends would apparently disagree with Dunnam, though, as might the town officials in Georgia who hung Dunnam’s works throughout the meeting areas of their municipal office building.

Dunnam thought for a second.

“I had a really good friend in California who is an artist and does sell paintings… and he had said at one point in time that if you dabble in art, you’re an artist,” Dunnam said. “If you create something on your own that other people have not done, you’re an artist.

“I guess you have to have that confidence in yourself to be able to do that,” Dunnam said.

“Spirit Beach” by Don Dunnam

He classifies his work as “acrylic, mixed media” art. At the moment, he uses acrylic paints and a chemical called Floetrol, a paint extender traditionally used in home improvement projects, to create a layered, almost organic style of abstract art.

Images, like “Spirit Beach,” bubble from the layers as the layers of acrylics interact with one another and dry. The colors blend and flow naturally, overpowering one another at times.

For more of Dunnam’s story, check out today’s Messenger or subscribe to our online edition.