Frequently asked questions:
Where are you from originally? What was your background like?
I was born and raised in Westchester County, New York in a town called Rye. It was a conservative town with not much to do there, so I spent most of my days drawing to pass the time and to amuse myself. I also drew because it was the only way I knew how to express myself and something inside me just felt the need to. I know most artists have had mentors and influential people and/or other artists in their lives to nurture and inspire their talent, but I grew up in a very unartistic household. My father was a police lieutenant and my mother was an administrative assistant and they knew nothing about the arts. I don't think I even stepped foot into an art museum until I was eighteen years old.
Where did you go to college?
Where can I contact you for original art?
You can contact me via the studio email: email@example.com or call the studio at: +1 (732) 687 • 4603
Do you do commissions?
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.
Why haven't you been able to paint or draw in the past several years?
I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is a rare genetic connective tissue disorder. People with Ehlers Danlos syndrome (EDS) are born with faulty, weakened collagen. Collagen is the “glue” that holds our entire body structure together (our organs, ligaments, tendons, bones, etc.), therefore, I have structural problems with my painting arm, hand, wrist, shoulder and neck from my EDS as well as many other complications from my condition. EDS is a very complex illness and can cause a myriad of health issues and varies in severity and type. To learn more about EDS, click on the following link:
Can you try to paint with your other hand, or even feet?
No... Ehlers Danlos affects the ENTIRE body as I stated above, so every part of my body is affected as well. Trust me, if I could paint with my tongue I would! I’m a born fighter and I’m very stubborn so if there was a way to get around this, I would do it ;)
When are you going to get better and return to your art?
Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a lifelong, degenerative chronic illness so unfortunately there is no “getting better” from EDS, and there is no cure or treatment for EDS. You can manage EDS though as best as you can with corrective surgeries, bracing, and physical to help manage symptoms. In the past 10 years, I’ve had several surgeries and I am starting another physical therapy program at Mayo Clinic. I am literally doing everything I can possibly do to help myself to get back to my art and will let everyone know if and when I ever get back to it. You can help raise awareness and help us find a cure for this disabling, misunderstood disorder and/or visit support groups by clicking on the following link:
How do you think your painting and drawing style developed?
I had been accentuating and 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 a display of bottles, I thought the bottles looked boring so I melted them all with my imagination and painted them that way... I guess I just always wanted to put more into whatever I saw in front of me. My style comes from my desire to transform my emotions into tangible planes that express what I feel, not what I see. I am also very bored with the ordinary and I love to create things I've never seen before. As for the elongated, stretched figures I create, they are a result of how I feel physically inside from my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome since we are very hypermobile, stretchy natural contortionists from the condition.
How long do your paintings take?
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, and that doesn't include all the prep beforehand like the photo shoot and preliminary sketch. 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 a grueling six long months to complete. I worked an average of eleven-hour days, seven days a week painting it. I even tore my knee cap from working on it! I had not been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome at the time I was working on this piece, and the excruitiating, worsening physical pain I was experiencing from painting it had definitely helped set the emotion for the painting. I even wrote the word "pain" in the landscape. I think people can see the word subliminally when they look at it, because it's the first word that comes to their minds when they describe this piece. As for where it is in the painting... that's up to you to find it! ;)
You began to exhibit your oil paintings in 2004. How did you get started?
After I graduated college, I painted with whatever little time I had left over from my job as an illustrator to keep my sanity. A friend saw my paintings and told me that I should send my work to Juxtapoz magazine. I was so busy 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 their editor Jamie O’Shea was so impressed with my work that he wrote a full feature on me and even put my painting "The Hunter" on the cover. Soon afterwards, Kirsten Anderson from Seattle’s Roq La Rue Gallery immediately gave me my first solo show and my career soon exploded afterwards. I was so grateful for my overnight success but I have to say it was insanely stressful trying to keep up with the immense workload, especially with my worsening health conditions from my Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
What do your paintings mean?
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: Although "Regret" looks like a simple portrait, there are many elements in it that were specifically planned and hidden symbolism. There are many broken hearts at the bottom in the line work as well as three more in the painting; one in her fur, one in her lipstick which forms a heart shape (with the parting of her lips representing a break), and the shape of her face and hair form a heart shape with the tear representing a break in it. See below:
What inspires you?
I create mostly from the need to express myself, not much out of inspiration. Once in a while I will be inspired by a great movie or someone's life story. I'm mostly inspired by music though; I like the Cure, Queen, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Joy Division, etc. I love music of all genres though. Music is my greatest passion. I have an unusual neurological condition called "synethesia", which means that I can see music inside of my head, so a lot of my work comes from the visions I see when I listen to music. I didn't know I was a synesthete until much later on in life when I was diagnosed with it. I thought everyone saw music as visual landscapes, so to speak. I also have spatial sequence synesthesia which means I can see time as well. It has definitely been an asset to my creativity!
Can you explain the process of what goes into producing a final painting?
It is a VERY long process, that's why my paintings take me so long to create. After I think of an idea, I make a sketch to figure out the best composition. I then have to choose a model that I think will best fit the mood of the painting, find a costume for the model and figure out the lighting for the photo shoot to set the mood and atmosphere of the painting. After that, I photograph the model myself so I will have a photo to paint/draw from for reference. After the photo shoot, I make a final line-drawing from my photo and transfer that drawing onto my board and paint about 5 to 6 under-paintings, building up the paint from dark to light to create depth. My elaborate frames are also almost all hand-painted with color accents to match each painting.
What materials do you use to produce your work?
I work in oils and paint on either wood panel or ultra-smooth imported Italian linen. My rendered drawings are made with graphite on smooth bristol board paper.
Did you ever find the two drawings that were stolen from your Fade to Gray solo show?
Sadly, no. For those of you who don't know, I've have two drawings stolen from me right off the walls at my Fade to Gray solo show New York City in 2008 and to this day, they were never found. The first stolen drawing, eerily titled "Awaiting..." is 12" x 16" and is in a 20" x 24" white ornate oval frame. The second drawing titled "Aprella" is 8" x 10" and is in a 14" x 16" white ornate frame. The thief, Mikel Lemoine, was caught... however, the two drawings still remain missing to this day. If you or anyone you know has information as to where they may be, please contact me at +1 (732) • 687 • 4603 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would appreciate it and am offering a reward for their return. Thank you! Here are photos of the two stolen drawings:
Can I get a tattoo of one of your paintings?
Yes, 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 and have a collection of photos from fans who got tattoos of my work throughout the years. I absolutely love it!