Len Grayeck was always drawing architectural house designs and caricatures while growing up. \u201cI drew compulsively all the time,\u201d he said.In 1989, when he experienced a rough year personally, he turned to art in a more serious way.Grayeck began watching art instructor Bob Ross\u2019 painting lessons on public television and said to himself, \u201cI can do that.\u201dHe purchased the necessary paint supplies and began to create landscape and abstract paintings in acrylic. \u201cIt got my mind off my problems,\u201d he said. Thirty years later, Grayeck continues to paint almost every day. \u201cIt started as a hobby and then became an obsession,\u201d he said. \u201cI spent most of my 30s painting every night.\u201dThe 51-year-old Shelton resident has become an established painter in the region. His work can be found in art shows at galleries, libraries and other venues, often winning awards. He has sold up to 200 paintings during his career.The Mattatuck Museum in "Waterbury purchased a Grayeck painting for its permanent collection in early 2018. \u201cMiscere Domino\u201d depicts a scene under the Mixmaster, the elevated highway section where Interstate 84 and Route 8 meet in Waterbury.He\u2019s received commissions to paint people, pets and landscapes, had his paintings featured in publications, and sold prints of his work through art websites.Grayeck is essentially self-taught. He took some random art classes in school when younger.He\u2019s a believer in Malcolm Gladwell\u2019s theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Grayeck, when it comes to painting, has certainly put in the required hours.A commitment to doing something every day for at least 15 minutes is required to master it, whether crochet, writing poetry or creating art, he said.\u201cWhen people come up to me and say they want to paint, I tell them to get a sketch pad and pencil and draw a few times a day,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you can learn how to draw, you can paint.\u201dGrayeck paints mostly portraits and landscapes, including of well-known rock stars, friends, Stratford beach scenes and the sky. A complicated, realistic painting can take him 100 hours to complete.He also does abstract paintings, which usually take much less time to complete.He keeps a large file of photo images \u2014 some of which he\u2019s taken and some from public sources \u2014 ready to use as subjects for his realistic paintings.\u201cWhatever percolates in my head, I\u2019ll start working on,\u201d Grayeck said.Some of his paintings take years to complete. He may begin a painting, return to it months later, and not finish it until years afterward. \u201cI don\u2019t work on one piece at a time,\u201d he said. \u201cGenerally, it\u2019s four to five but it can be up to 20.\u201dAs of now, he\u2019s working on nine paintings, including one he started seven years ago. \u201cIt\u2019s maybe one-third done,\u201d he said.Grayeck stressed that being an artist isn\u2019t as glamorous as some people imagine. There\u2019s a business side, too.\u201cI\u2019m not wearing a beret and hanging out in a studio,\u201d he said. \u201cThere\u2019s the business aspect, the networking and the constant rejection. It used to really bother me. It\u2019s all part of the game.\u201dGrayeck grew up with two siblings in Stratford, where they swam and rode bicycles. His younger brother Steve, who he credits for always encouraging him to continue painting when he was in a funk, died unexpectedly in 2010. \u201cIt altered my trajectory,\u201d he said of his brother\u2019s passing.He attended Christian Heritage School and graduated from UConn. He was employed at a healthcare company for many years, working his way up from the mailroom to the I.T. department, but now works in another field.Grayeck moved to Shelton about a decade ago. \u201cNow I\u2019m a Valley boy,\u201d he said.He\u2019s an avid reader of books, a big UConn men\u2019s basketball fan, and enjoys hiking on Shelton trails and along the Stratford shoreline. He has been active in many local art organizations. His goal is to secure an agent or gallery representation so he can make a living as a full-time artist.\u201cI feel it\u2019s around the corner,\u201d he said.Go to LenGrayeck.com to see more of his paintings.