1. What situation or person motivated you to pursue art?
My grandfather and my brother were probably my biggest influences. My grandfather used to paint oils on an easel with his beret on in our yard. Many years later, my brother went to School of Visual arts in NY, and it made me realize that I too could go to art school. Besides that, I had a couple of great art teachers in high school. They both encouraged me, and one who had attended Parsons encouraged me to apply there, and I got in at age 16! I had a pencil in hand as early as I can remember, and always loved to draw and to create.
2. From where do you draw your inspiration to create art?
Inspiration can come from within, an emotion, or from seeing beautiful lighting or something extraordinary in the ordinary in nature. Sometimes it’s a cause that pulls at my heart.
3. What emotion are you trying to create for your audience through your art?
Mostly my goal is to uplift the viewer while at the same time raising consciousness. For example, I’ve been painting elephants since 2012. Most of my paintings depict adorable beings that one can only fall in love with (hopefully!), but I also want viewers to understand the plight of these magnificent beings, and ultimately be drawn to action.
4. Does an artist have an obligation to make a statement with their art?
I wouldn’t want to lay should on any other artist. However, my favorite artist is Kandinsky. In his book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”, he argues that artists have an obligation to uplift society and consciousness. He also states that those artists who don’t use their art in that way, not only don’t help with the uplifting of humanity, but can actually drag it down.
5. Was there ever a time when giving up was the right thing to do?
If you mean with my art, no.
6. Is there something in your past career that would surprise people?
Early in my career, I was commissioned to paint two wooden eggs for the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Reagan was president at the time, and I received a lovely note from Mrs. Reagan, and those pieces now reside in the Smithsonian permanent collection. That year I was among some great artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Maurice Sendak, and Willem DeKooning.
7. What do you see as the most important attributes of a successful artist?
Definitely a commitment to becoming the best they can in their respective mediums. Dedication and a great love of creating their art. Also, while being influenced by the greats who came before them, to ultimately come to their own unique style and identity. And, too importantly, unfortunately the ability and drive to market oneself or have someone who believes in them to market them aggressively.
8. What is the most valuable life lesson you learned from creating art?
That art really does move and shake people, and that a world without art would be a sad place indeed. The arts in general are far more important than our society or schools now give credit to.