1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)
If you want to go way back, one of my most vivid memories from my childhood involves a painting I did when I must have been about four years old. It was a side-view portrait of a lady with a yellow bun of hair done in those grocery store water colors. My mom just raved about it to everyone, so that was probably the first time I ever felt a calling of some sort to be an artist. I think most creative people can remember something like that from their childhood. In high school I took as many art classes as I could, and over the years I fed my creative craving by taking workshops and classes at PCAD and at the Lancaster Art Museum. About 5 years ago I started taking art classes in earnest at Millersville University. (I have the added benefit of working there and receiving a tuition waiver!) I gravitated towards painting because I find it so versatile and challenging and rewarding (although frustrating a lot of times too!) I prefer oil paints because I can really manipulate them more so than acrylics or other water based media. My work has come a long way since my earlier attempts a few years ago. I would have a hard time showing those paintings to anyone!
2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?
As far as methods and styles, I’ve been looking at a lot of art lately and am drawn to paintings that almost have an unfinished feel to them. They are more like studies in color and shape relationships. Some reveal the initial drawing stages. I’m trying to get the courage to create these kinds of thoughtful works. Edges fascinate me too. I have a tendency to paint in a way I think other people will like, and not so much what I like. So I’m really, really working on challenging myself in that way, and painting more for me. As far as subjects, I have tried some landscapes and had some success and some failure, so I went back to painting a subject I love – Ozzie, our dog. His way and his figural expression inspires me more than anything, and if I need to feel successful at painting (after a frustrating failure) I can almost never go wrong painting him!
3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?
I love the French Impressionists, especially Paul Cezanne for his boldness of line and color and balance. Chaim Soutine‘s paintings are an experience in fearlessness – he was simply a mad-man with a brush and paint, for some reason I am drawn to him every time I’ve visited the Barnes Foundation. Of course I have a personal appreciation for the work of local painter, Robert Andriulli, because I have had the unbelievable opportunity to watch him work, and I have learned so much from his instruction at Millersville. But lately I’ve been enjoying every artist that I’ve encountered on the web site/blog, Painting Perceptions. I highly recommend the interviews with amazing artists and the images of paintings shared there.
4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one customer, but last year when I did the Dogs of Lancaster Project, I had the most meaningful experience ever connecting with complete strangers in a real way through art. I can’t explain how rewarding it is to create a work of art that has such deep meaning for people. Of special note were a few of the dogs that I painting that had passed away. The fact that something I created, from within me, could connect with and evoke so much emotion for someone was truly a life-changing experience. I think I will always be painting animals in some form or another for the rest of my days.
5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?
I have a 12 x 8″ black and white photograph by a friend of mine, Adrian Gibbs. He printed it and sent it to me when I told him it struck me so deeply it made me cry when I saw it. I don’t know what it is exactly that connected with me so deeply, but it’s a portrait of a young lady through a window surrounded by leaves and shadows. The shadows are so beautiful and the far away, forlorn, yet contented and grounded look in her eyes just speaks to me.