Below is copied from a local newspaper interview I did a few years ago when I was a resident artist at The Speakeasy Art Center in Pekin.
What’s your artistic goal?
To know that, regardless of circumstances, I can express myself uniquely and have the potential to inspire others to create even more art. The more art the better as all artists are peers.
After I left the Air Force in 1988 I made a decision to become a ‘great’ artist, not necessarily rich or famous or even beloved but just to stretch myself to the point where I felt that I could, if time and circumstances were favorable, make art of the quality and scale of the great masters I admire.
If you could have dinner with any artist (living or dead), who would it be? What would you ask them?
Peter Paul Rubens, brilliant Baroque painter and diplomat. Very few artists have ever, or will ever again, affect the relationship between countries, tipping the balance towards peace as Rubens did. Finding common ground between the kingdoms and city states, especially in the early days of the Protestant Reformation literally meant the difference between war and peace and Rubens was a man of peace. His self-portrait with his wife and son is my favorite, so personal, loving and inspirational so I would like to hear him talk about that!
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
That they aren’t ‘aspiring’ at all, you are either an artist or choose not to be one, but creativity is innate and all artists are peers regardless of what might be considered success. Art is not a competition with winners and losers, you are either in the club or choose not to be!
Where can people see more of your art?
If you ask the Speakeasy Art Center staff nicely and can walk up to the third floor, you can see my giant oil painting mural in progress!
What is the best part of the artistic process for you— starting, working, or finishing?
Working. When I am lost in the process I feel closer to my spirit and the worries of the world are forgotten!
What is your most treasured lesson?
In terms of fine art there are two major epiphanies that stand out. The first was my Italian Renaissance art history classes where I understood (by the sheer number of competent artists at that time) that ‘realism’ is a learned skill, a craft, not some mystical gift that only a lucky few can master. It takes longer to practice for some, but with basic vision and dexterity anyone with the desire to do so can paint a 2D object that looks 3D. The second was an understanding and appreciation the non-objective art of Mark Rothko which I had naively at first written off as a joke or a scam. I was only able to understand why his color field paintings were so highly regarded by critics by actually standing in front of one of them. Photographs do not capture the effect of the light reflecting back through the paint, it was a feeling that was beyond the visual and unlike anything I had experienced before, very enlightening in many ways!
What would give you the greatest satisfaction regarding your art?
To have an artist tell me that they were inspired by my work to go outside of their comfort zone and attempt something that they might have considered impossible before.
How has your artwork influenced different events in your life?
I’ve been a ‘starving artist’ my whole adult life. Like Paul Gauguin, I have and will (figuratively) dig ditches to be able to do my art, my way, and while I have a full time day job I work hard at, it is only for the money and otherwise irrelevant to what I consider important.
What is your favorite subject?
Allegorical figures. Using the female figure to represent something such as an idea or concept (The Statue of Liberty, for example, is an allegorical figure!).
Have you been influenced by any particular artistic movement?
All of them! The ancient Greek sculptors,The Mannerist era of the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Rococo, Victorian fairy paintings, Neoclassical sculpture, The Impressionists, The post-Impressionists, DaDa, Surrealism – if it’s in a museum somewhere I probably have a favorite or two from every movement!
How did you get started in art?
I’ve always been an artist but when I was around 11 or 12 my friend Edward was the one who first inspired me to seriously work at it. I wanted so badly to draw well and haven’t stopped since!