I have had an interest in painting since I was young. My parents framed a small painting of roses that I did at age 3. It now hangs in my studio as a reminder of my early aspirations. I remember going to the Chicago Art Institute frequently as a boy, especially enjoying the works of Picasso. I went off to art school at the Kansas City Art Institute which was also pivotal. There they set me free to experiment with concept in a rich, dynamic environment. After leaving KCAI, I started out slowly, painting, learning and finally selling my work. I call these my basement years, since I moved back in with my parents, until I could afford to move out on my own. This took a number of years. At age 27 I went away to Europe which turned out to be one of the most influential periods in my life. At this time, I had the opportunity to view first-hand the artwork that I had always admired in books. The Flemish artists spoke to me, especially Vermeer – his Woman Pouring Milk was breath-taking. Seeing this work altered my path as a realist painter, and was a catalyst for me changing from the figure and landscape to still life. Van Eycks alter piece in Ghent, made a lasting impression, and I was greatly inspired by a small work by Gerard ter Borch titled Gallant Conversation. I was also able to see a Francis Bacon show at the Tate Gallery, and Las Meninas at the Prado, both of which I will never forget. It was during this time that I developed a more personal narrative style which found a voice in Still Life painting. I am still growing and developing this voice, and am never at a loss for what to paint next since the possibilities within the genre are endless.
There are many artists and genres that interest me and have influenced my progression as an artist, and I appreciate both historical and contemporary works. Van Eyke, Vermeer and Vander Wyden share the list with Lucien Freud, Joseph Cornell, Paul Klee and Frank Auerbach. I am particularly attached to the London school along with a group of contemporary Spanish realists. Of these, Lopez Garcia and Isabella Quintanilla impress me the most.
The contemporary art world is not a place where a person can sit back and get too comfortable and I try not to confuse myself with all the “isms” that pop up in art. I am constantly looking to expand my knowledge, vision and expertise, and I feel most comfortable when I can experiment with imagery that is outside the box. I find I learn more with my larger work, so I try to take on one or two large projects a year that I can really sink my teeth into.
I certainly have been influenced by teachers, friends and art history. It’s easy to get too heavy and serious about art, so I haven’t followed any one school of thought. My paintings are very personal, with one work often evolving from another in a series of cycles. Much of my imagery is inspired by my surroundings, my background and family. My kids have been a huge and ongoing inspiration for me, not just by way of the objects that have been incorporated into my paintings, but in the mind set they have shared with me. It is their honest interpretation and unaffected exploration of the natural world that has really opened my eyes and that I have tried to apply in my own work.