I grew up in Rye, New York, and lived there until I was 19. It was a small, conservative town with nothing really to do there so I spent most of my days drawing to pass the time. I lived right down the street from an amusement park though, so that kept me occupied during the summer at least. It was so strange trying to fall asleep as a child to the blood-curdling screams from people on the roller coaster every 10 minutes! Other than that, my background was surprisingly very normal. My father, William, was a police lieutenant and my mother, Patricia, was an administrative assistant. I wouldn't be where I am today without their help!
The School of Visual Arts in New York City.
I had been distorting things for as long as I could remember- it came very naturally to me. For example, one day in my high school art class when we were assigned to paint a still life from the boring display of bottles in front of us, I melted them all inside my head and painted them that way... I guess I just always wanted to put more into whatever I saw in front of me. As I explain in my artist statement, the distortion comes from my innate desire to transform my emotions into tangible planes that express what I feel, not what I see.
I don’t like to talk about what my paintings mean since they are so personal, so I like to leave it up to the viewer’s interpretation. It’s very strange to pour your heart out onto canvas and then put it on display for the whole world to see. Therefore, I use a lot of symbolism which helps me express myself without everyone knowing exactly what my paintings mean if I feel the subject matter is too personal. There are clues occasionally, especially in the titles of the conceptual paintings. I will give an example of how I use symbolism in my work using my painting "Regret" as the example:
In my painting "Regret", although it looks like a simple portrait, there are elements in it that were specifically planned. There is a broken heart at the bottom in the linework, but there are also 3 more in the painting: one in her fur, one in her lipstick which forms a heart shape (with the parting of her lips breaking it apart), and the shape of her face and hair form a heart shape with the tear representing a break in it.
It depends on the size of the painting and amount of detail involved. On average, a painting of a portrait around 24" x 30" will take about a month to finish. One of my largest and most detailed paintings titled "The Pinnacle" (from my Laments and Lullabies solo show) is 55" x 70" and took me 6 months to complete!
Yes, but only if I'm allowed complete artistic freedom because I think a painting comes out better if it comes from the heart and what the artist choses to paint rather than being told what to paint.
Yes, it`s a VERY long process- that`s why they take so long to make. First comes the idea, then a sketch to figure out the best composition. I then have to chose a model that I think will best fit the mood of the painting, find a costume for her and figure out the lighting for the photo shoot to set the mood/atmosphere of the painting. I then have a photo shoot for reference (which I shoot myself). After that, I make a final line-drawing from my photo, transfer that drawing onto my board and do about 5 to 6 under-paintings, building up the paint from dark to light. My elaborate frames are also almost all hand-painted with color accents to match each painting.
For the most part, my paintings are done out of expressing emotion and not from any source of inspiration at all. Sometimes though, I will get inspiration from music. I love music (who doesn’t?!), and it helps put me in that state of mind that I need to be in to create.
For every solo show I have, I make a soundtrack of the music I was listening to while I was painting to play at the opening reception.
Yes, I sell beautiful limited edition giclee prints of my paintings. They are available for purchase through my website here. Just click on the "prints" section on top of this page.
After I graduated college, I painted with whatever little time I had left over from my crappy jobs to keep my sanity. A friend of mine came over one day, saw my paintings and told me that I should send my work to Juxtapoz magazine. I was so busy and wrapped up in my own work that I never even knew about Juxtapoz magazine or about the whole exciting art scene that was emerging on the West Coast. I then sent my work to Juxtapoz and Jamie O’Shea, the editor at the time, was completely blown away. He wrote a full feature on me and even put my painting of "The Hunter" on the cover! Soon afterwards, Kirsten Anderson, owner of Seattle’s Roq La Rue Gallery immediately gave me my first solo show. I’m very grateful to Jamie and Juxtapoz for giving me that opportunity to have my artwork seen all over the world. I’m also very grateful to Kirsten and to my friend for telling me about Juxtapoz magazine!
My next solo show, Laments and Lullabies, will be at the Opera Gallery in London, England. The opening reception will be on Friday, October 16th, 2009 and the show will run until Saturday, November 14th, 2009. Their address is:
134 New Bond Street
London W1S 2TF
Phone: (0207) 491-2999
Opera Gallery Website: www.operagallery.com
You can visit the news or exhibition page on this website to read more about Laments and Lullabies. I’m very excited about this show because not only do I feel it’s my best work to date, but I’ve never been out of the U.S. and want to see another country! I only show once a year since my painings take me so long to make.
"The Wish". Not only is it a very personal piece, but it took me forever to paint- there must have been over 1,000 dandelions!! I started going a bit crazy to say the least by the time I finally finished it! (lol!) I’m very attached to that particular one and wish (no pun intended!) I didn’t sell it. People also respond to that painting the most, I guess because it’s so personal. I also like "Drained" and "Ms. V".
JW Waterhouse, John Singer Sargent, William Bougeureau, Steven Assael (for their painting techniques), Ray Casear, Floria Sigismondi, and Chris Cunningham (for their subject matter), and David Lynch (for his amazing mind) to name a few. I’m also influenced a lot by fashion designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Jennifer Nicholson and Alexander MqQueen for their unique visions. Jennifer is a collector of mine and since I love her dresses so much, she lets me borrow them for my photo shoots, so many of the women in my paintings are wearing her great couture creations!
I was really upset to hear about Alexander McQueen's suicide. At the time I heard about it, I was already painting a piece for a show and dedicated it to him. It's called "Lee, 'The Pink Sheep'" (you can view the painting here under the gallery page) since his real name was Lee and he thought of himself as "the pink sheep" of the family. I put black swarovski crystals in the pupils of the eyes of the painting so it sparkled in the light. He had an incredible imagination and will be greatly missed.
Painting, photography, drawing, singing, music, dancing, having a great time, real people who are down-to-earth, Halloween, carousels, dusk, red skies, thunderstorms, lightening, tornados, seahorses, jet black hair, pink hair, the sound of crickets at night, animals (margays, klipspringers), my 3 black kitties, comedies, laughing so hard that you feel sick, spontaneous adventures, amusement parks, vintage toys, NYC, Las Vegas, leopard, cheetah and zebra prints, love, kissing, victorian wallpaper, red velvet cake body wash, massages, buttercream frosting moisturizer, vanilla perfume, soft sheets, karaoke, vintage photographs, faux food (especially faux pastries!!), pink frosted cupcakes, brick oven pizza, bloody Marys, black eyeliner, anything strange, eerie and unusual.
My advice for aspiring artists would be that talent is only part of what you need to be a successful artist. You must have a lot of dedication and self- discipline. It is a very competitive and difficult career and at times can be very lonely. But every job has it’s downsides, and the upsides to being an artist is better than any other job I can think of. It’s a sense of fulfillment- that you are achieving something and making a mark in this world. Most of all though, it’s making a living by doing what you love everyday - and nothing compares to that.
I don’t use the same colors- it varies depending on the painting and is different every time. A couple of common colors I use as a base though are yellow ochre and transparent golden ochre.
Yes, definitely! I would love to and I’m planning on it- I just haven't had the time to put it together yet. If you sign the emailing list on the contact page on my website, I will keep everyone updated as to when it will be ready!
It was a collaborative process between myself and Fourth Floor Design, NY. Their email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
A lot of them are my friends. Others are models or women that I think would be great subjects for my painting style.
Yes- of course! I would be honored and flattered! If you can, please send me a photo of it when it’s done- I love seeing tattoos of my work- it’s very cool! :)
I work in oils and paint on either wood panel (from Barron Arts in Brooklyn) or this great, ultra-smooth imported Italian linen. My rendered drawings are made with graphite on bristol board paper.