CONVERSATIONS WITH A NOW DEFUNCT MAGAZINE.
November 27, 2012
When did you first realize that you had a talent for art?
My first artistic based memory as far as I can remember, was spending time at my friend’s house coloring in their coloring books that they were never interested in. Through the repetition of drawing and coloring at a young age I started to develop some basic skills through observing a subject and re-creating it on paper. I liked the feeling of being free to color and all recollection of time being lost. Perhaps a turning point was in seventh grade when I entered my artwork in our library art competition at school. I won the competition and my Junior High School teacher, Mrs. Coffee, purchased the work from me which gave me some sense of validation at the time. I don’t think it was ever a conscious realization for me that I had talent I only knew I wanted to paint and draw-- so I did.
What kind of art did you initially create?
Landscapes! My teachers in Jr. and Senior High School desperately tried to influence me to branch out from my limited subject matter at the time which was mainly tree’s and landscapes along with the fact I only used acrylic, watercolor and tempera. My teacher challenged me to broaden my perspective of art by giving me several Salvador Dali prints. I was hooked and spent a lot of time exploring his work through reading and researching his art. I got lost in his color and tried to re-create some of his works with my own unique twist. Some of my largest pieces I had created to date were in Dali-esque style. I still have those prints given to me by my teacher, although my paintings were destroyed.
At what point did you start to take your art seriously?
As young as 6 or 7. I was influenced by my Japanese neighbor who was an artist and lived in a magical place several houses down from my parent’s home. Her studio faced her home and tucked in between were perfect, wooden planked, pathways in a zig zag pattern above the Koi ponds that led to her studio. Also, adjacent to her studio was an exact replication of a Japanese Tea House. Often, I spent time drawing and painting there overlooking the Koi ponds and gardens. It became an obsession to want to spend time there especially given the spirit within this environment which was very different from anything I had experienced. I can vividly remember many details of this serene place to this day.
Has your art always been focused on one area / type of subject, or does it vary a lot?
I started doing landscapes and Dali-like imagery and as I grew as an artist nature became more of the resounding theme to my work. Creating and playing in the Japanese Tea House overlooking koi ponds profoundly affected my work. I came to understand what really inspired me from these environments and how that would impact future subject oriented work. I think I have always tried to re-create that “feeling” imprinted in my subconscious from this unusual environment. It was a magical place for me to let my imagination roam free which was encouraged by Marianne Huntzinger, the artist whose tea house where I drew and painted often.
How has your style changed over the years? How did you go about developing it?
I have never intended to claim “one” style to mark my life’s ambitions as a painter. I hope my style continues to metamorphosis and grow with every painting I do. Some artists go about consciously developing a distinct style but that has never been an intention of mine.
What are the main techniques that you employ nowadays? What mediums do you mainly work with?
It depends on the medium which dictates my approach. For instance, if I work on a large watercolor say four foot by five foot, to enhance what I feel is special about using a watercolor medium I will get the watercolor to a certain stage of development that is somewhat tightly rendered then I stand on a ladder and let loose with special mixes and concentration of pigment of watercolor in bottles and drip onto the surface for visual punch and a certain kinetic energy. While the watercolor is still wet I might manipulate the drips and spills to incorporate a detail that way the watercolor feels less controlled which allows the eye more visual freedom to travel around the work and discover the abstract stains, drips and spills which are what make watercolors such an interesting and unique medium.
Oils I work differently. My oils are slick, and often mistaken for air brush paintings because I work in thin layers which I build from glazing along with minimizing the brush strokes utilizing various sizes of fan brushes that remove the strokes.
What formal training have you had? What was the most important lesson that you learnt?
I am formally trained with a degree in Fine Art from California State University of Sacramento along with extension classes at UC Davis under the tutelage of Wayne Thiebaud along with influences from my instructor Gary Pruner at American River College. I was fortunate to have some fantastic professors who changed my thoughts as a painter along with the direction of my work. The most important lessons I learned were about color theory.
Do you have a favorite variety of Koi?
All of them!
You also create metal sculptures – how did these come about? Do plan to do something Koi-related?
I owned a gallery in Folsom, CA where we featured a lot of “functional art” and some of that was metal sculpture which included tables, furniture and fireplace mantels. If I had more space in my current studio I would be doing metal sculpture again-- I loved creating with metal.
How did the Koi flip-flops come about? Any plans to expand the line?
I moved to Hilton Head Island, SC near the beach a year ago and I live in my flip flops. I had been thinking about a way to incorporate my artwork onto a flip flop. I researched, found a manufacturer and “PaintMySole”, my new line of flip flops with my artwork on them were born. I am still in the process of perfecting them, but the response has been great so far.
Yes. They can go to my website:
Have you ever exhibited your paintings at a Koi show? Do you have any plans to?
I have never shown my work at a Koi show, but I would be excited if asked to participate in a show! What a great idea!
What are your ambitions for the future in terms of how you want your art to develop?
Nature seems to be a resounding theme I never quite escape in my artwork. There is a mystery to nature that inspires and intrigues me. As an artist, I continue to search for a unique way to express it through color and form. If I could paint really large and have the space to do it, I would paint larger Koi and Waterlilies!
Also, I am really excited to be working in partnership with companies whom I license my artwork for various products. My Koi Fish artwork has many possibilities to be seen on a lot of unique surfaces much like my “Koi” flip flops. I am very excited about the possibilities for the future!