Complete Interview with Southwest Art Magazine - Feb 2015 - for the Article "Wide Open Spaces"
How old were you when you first became interested in art? Was it a family influence or just a natural interest and ability?
When I was 13 years old, my first art teacher, Mrs. Henrietta Doglietto, opened my eyes to art and helped me realize that art came natural to me. Venturing outdoors to the fields near our school, she taught us about gesture drawing, contour drawing, pen and ink, and watercolor painting. As a tall, geeky, and invisible 8th grader, I was amazed that art was something that I could do really well. I became the go-to artist for projects from then on. Being an artist has become a part of my identity and something I've always been proud of.
What was your style and subject matter when you first started? How has your art evolved over the years? Used to be Impressionistic and Expressive, but now just Expressive. Explain.
What inspired me to want to paint was learning about the late 1800's French Impressionist painters; studying their work, reading their letters, and seeing the Impressionism exhibits at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
In 2011, I began painting the local neighborhoods, waterways, and nearby hills, using the Impressionistic style. After working for several months, I began to experiment, and added sections to my paintings with a more expressive style of painting influenced by the Bay Area Figurative Movement. This style of painting felt more exciting and alive to me, and opened many new avenues to explore. It allowed me to put more of myself into the painting. I began using bold paint strokes, altering the texture of paint, simplifying shapes, and minimizing the information.
I was also inspired by the hyper colorful effects of the contemporary Sacramento Valley painters.
Today my paintings are completely painted in an expressive style with Northern California color, what I call "Raw" style. They continue to be inspired by "Real" subjects and locations and are oftentimes built upon compositions with abstract and "Re-imagined" forms.
What did you learn in art school and from other artists that helped your artwork?
What I learned in art school was: a variety of art techniques; to challenge myself and to be daring; to push the medium and learn from my mistakes; that the best artists are dedicated to their craft and don't quit; and to have fun with it.
I've also learned from studying the work of many other artists, such as: Paul Cezanne's radical approach to perspective and his persistence of understanding his subject matter; Vincent van Gogh's daring use of colors and capturing emotions; Richard Diebenkorn, who brought the Abstract Expressionist's brushwork to the Landscape, Still Life, and Figure; and Wayne Thiebaud's use of thick colorful paint, interesting shadows, and control of the composition. I was also fortunate to have studied under some very accomplished artists such as Gregory Kondos and Gerald Walburg, and watch them perform their craft. I hope to always remain a student of art and continue learning from others, and from experimenting with the paintings I create.
What did you do after college? Art or other work? Did you do any art while homeschooling your children?
After college, I pursued art as a printmaker creating etchings and prints. I also produced several watercolors, pastels, and a series of large pencil drawings based on my dreams. I exhibited my earlier works in group shows at the Crocker Art Museum, the Haggin Museum, the California State Fair, and at several local art galleries. I also worked for the State of California for several years where I met my wife with whom I have two children.
In 1995, I dedicated myself to teaching our children at home. I continued to be their home school teacher up through 12th grade. Art was a valuable part of their education. Not only did we carve sculptures, illustrate books, and paint, but I used art as a tool to teach them a variety of subjects. Whether to visualize math concepts, understand scientific principles, or learn history by drawing the events and using symbolism, art was key to helping them understand the material while making it fun. In 2011, my son graduated from Stanford University and my daughter graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.
What made you decide to go back to art after teaching your kids?
I felt proud of what our family had accomplished, but I had put my art career on hold for a long time. So after twelve years of teaching at home I returned to art, not to printmaking, but to pursue my passion to be a painter.
Favorite subject matter and why?
Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Cityscapes are my favorite subjects to paint.
In my Landscape and Waterscape paintings, I like to peel back the skin of what I see; land, rocks, water, and sky to expose a raw and re-imagined world of heightened colors and simplified shapes and textures. Oftentimes, I include the human made structures that co-exist in nature.
I like to paint Cityscapes that are colorful and project different moods such as a street with flowers brimming in the early morning light, or an iconic seaside building basking in the colorful afternoon sunlight.