I have worked as a stock and stock options trader for the past 32 years. I do not have formal art training. As a kid, I drew all the time but stopped when I went to college. In 2002, I took two painting classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts but I did not continue with it. In April 2012, I started painting on my own on a regular basis. All the work on my website is from April 2012 to the present.
I don’t like the term self-taught artist and I particularly don’t like the term outsider artist, but I am a painter who has only taken only one and a half painting classes in his life. When I was kid, I drew a lot. That is what I went to on my own in the way that children seem to be hardwired from almost birth towards certain activities, like sports or the arts or the sciences. When I went off to college, I pretty much stopped doing any art and it did not occur to me that I could study art and instead I went to a liberal arts college and then after graduation I went into business. It wasn’t until 2002 that I thought I would go back to something I always liked and I took two night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, but I didn’t finish the second class because it was kind of formal and I got lost with trying to learn in that manner. Ten years went by and with the continued urging of my wife, who graduated as a painting major from The Maryland Institute College of Art, I tried painting again in April 2012 but this time on my own. My wife gave me the book Color by Betty Edwards and I read half of it but like the class at PAFA, it didn’t feel right and I decided to just jump in and teach myself to paint, which I have been doing non-stop for the past four and a half years.
I taught myself to paint by following two rules. First, I was going to teach myself how to paint by painting and not by reading about how to paint or by taking classes or workshops. And by painting a lot. What is a lot? In four and half years, I have painted over 750 paintings. There are certainly different ways to approach learning how to paint but for me, painting this much and this quickly was a way for me to learn on my own what worked and what didn’t work in a painting; in particular, I was interested in learning how colors worked with each other. In my very first paintings, I painted very small – I call it my Post-It Note Period as some are actually on Post-It Notes – because I wanted to quickly see how colors worked against each other without having to use a lot of paint over a large area of real-estate. Second, I decided to never make a single painting, no matter how small, simply an exercise for something I might work on later. Every painting, every time, I treated as something special and unique that I struggled through in order to get to a place where the painting had energy and power and I, simply said, felt something. My thoughts on this are simple: If I feel something from my painting, then I’m pretty sure the viewer will feel something also.
Kenyon College, Gambier, OH