Could you briefly describe your background and how you came to join the art world? I graduated from Bates College in 1996 with a BA in Studio Art. While at Bates, I worked primarily in oil, as Bates offered no watercolor classes. I was also the cartoonist for the school paper, and hoped to become a professional cartoonist in the mold of Bill Watterson or Gary Larson, but those hopes were dashed when I sent my comic strip to numerous newspaper syndicates who all agreed that though the writing was strong, the artwork was not. When it came time to create a body of work for my senior thesis show, I decided to paint nineteen miniature photo-realistic watercolors. Much to my surprise, seven of those paintings sold at the opening, which made me realize that I might be able to make a living selling my artwork. In the fall of 1996, I participated in my very first art festival. The booth fee was $200, and I sold exactly $200 worth of paintings. Despite the less than promising start, I kept at it, and now participate in 40 art festivals a year all over the eastern United States, and am a regular artist at the Blue Heron Gallery in Wellfleet, MA.
Could you briefly describe your style/influences and the process or materials? I describe my style as brightly morbid. I use pleasing, soothing colors and scenes, and then add odd twists featuring penguins, zombies, nudes, and other pop-culture characters that bring their own interesting baggage to each painting. I work with opaque watercolor, because it has the flexibility of being either delicate or strong, depending on the needs of a given visual situation. Though I cannot site any direct influences, I definitely enjoyed Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” in high school, and in college I admired Edward Hopper. These days, I try to limit my exposure to other artwork, because I don’t want to be influenced.
Your titles are funny and I think equally important to your pieces. Which comes first? Sometimes the title comes first, and sometimes it comes second. It depends on the scene.
What do you think of your work going up in kids’ rooms? Based on how much kids enjoy my work, I think it’s great when parents expose them to my paintings. Obviously not everything that I paint is completely kid-friendly, but kids should be exposed to as much art and as many different kinds of art as possible.
“Penguins Hate Zombies”
“15 Penguins, 1 Poop”