'Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck; your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling'
– Vincent van Gogh
Starting from an early age I was always doodling and drawing whenever I had the chance. Sometimes I’d get in trouble for drawing cartoons characters in class, and around the age of 12 I began to realize I was pretty good at it. After that I started to get into oil paints and landscapes, and by my early twenties these had become the focus of my efforts.
For the most part I’m self-taught, although at one point I was thinking of being an Art major, so as a freshman I took a few classes in drawing and painting. Eventually I decided against going that route and switched to Education instead, however, other than that I’ve never had any coaching - all the rest was just learning on my own.
After college I ended up going into the finance industry, so art was always a hobby that I did after hours, increasing to longer evenings as I improved. Since my retirement in 2014 I’ve been able to pursue my passion full-time and these days I’m probably doing about 40 hours a week.
As a teenager in the seventies I, like many others, was a big fan of Salvador Dali. Obviously his more famous works such as Galatea, Narcissus, and Persistence of Memory were popular additions to the dorm room walls, and for a while I tried to emulate these and get into the mindset of the surrealist genre.
Besides Dali, I was always impressed with van Gogh’s stuff – he just had a way with colors that really interested me – and he created a unique style that went on to inspire future generations of painters, as well as musicians, film-makers, and artists working in other genres.
Ultimately this was one of the things that inspired me to delve deeper into the idea of embedding images within images, creating the unique neon on oil technique that has become the hallmark of most of my recent work.
Back in early 2017 I stumbled onto a new painting technique, using a combination of regular and neon oil paints. When layered in a specific manner on the canvas, it created a secondary image that could only be viewed under a black light. Personally, I call it ‘vertical drilling’ because you’re getting into the canvas more than the just top layer of the painting, but I’m not sure if that’s an official terminology or not.
For me the biggest challenge has been to avoid compromising the quality or integrity of the primary image, while finding interesting ways to incorporate the neon, and create secondaries that both enhance the original and look completely different under the black light.
Overall, this technique throws the door wide open for additional creativity, and I continue to be amazed at how much it enables me to express on a single canvas. To the best of my knowledge, I am the first person to utilize this technique on a painting, but I’d be happy to see other artists adopt it and expand the genre.