Our focus is on artists and exhibitions that have a focus on representation, realism, and high technical ability in Chicago
-Give us a little bio
I grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago. I started creating art at a very young age and clearly stated at the age of seven that I was going to be an artist.
-How did you get to where your were and how did you achieve that?
My talent was recognized throughout high school and my teachers referred me to the American Academy of Art. I started working as a graphic designer and art director for small design & marketing firms. In 1993 I moved to River West in Chicago and by 1997 I had started my own design business. The next year I had enrolled in a class at the Palette & Chisel Academy and began oil painting.
In 2005, I gave up my career as a graphic designer to pursue my real passion for fine art. I began by renting a shared studio space and attending open studio sessions 3-5 times a week at the Palette & Chisel Academy practicing the discipline of painting models and still life setups directly from life. In 2006, my wife and I started a family and in 2007 renovated a home in Chicago, equipped with a north Iight painting studio, which was featured in American Artist Studios magazine in 2010. I currently have a show up at Gallery 180 (corner of Wabash & Lake)
-How long did it take to become a professional artist.
It feels like a long journey over my whole life. But from the point I left school to when I started showing in galleries and getting commissions was 16 years. Most of that time was spent in my graphic design business.
-Do you make a living off your art?
Yes, but I seem to keep reinvesting the money I earn into my career.
-What are your thoughts on the chicago artist market, community, etc.
I don’t know much about the greater Chicago art community. I’ve been a member of the Palette & Chisel since 1998 and have not ventured out much from there. There is a small group of painters and faculty members who I paint with regularly on the third floor under the north light. We don’t really socialize much outside of the Palette & Chisel because we are always working.
-Describe your studio routine.
I get up at 6:00am every day and either go to the gym, jog or do some work out at home. I need to keep physically active since the long hours of painting strain my back. Then get my son ready and bring him to school. At 8:15, I usually check emails and see what my friends are up to on Facebook. Between 9:30-10:00 I lay out the paints and begin. I break for lunch at 12:30 and then paint until 5:30, when I have to pick up my son from school. In the evening from 8:30pm-10:30pm I attend to the administrative side to my art business. I teach on Tuesdays at the Palette & Chisel and in Lake Forest on Wednesdays. Most weekends I go to the Palette & Chisel so that only leaves me with 3-4 days in my studio.
-What are the major projects you are working on right now, and or coming up?
I just finished paintings for my show at Gallery 180 on exhibit until May 2, 2013. And I have a couple portrait commissions I’m finishing and also working on conceptual sketches for new series.
-What do you do to keep sane besides art?
Work out at the gym. Cook and spend time with my 6 year old son — sometimes both at once. He’s sous chef in training.
-What’s your favorite place to see art?
Locally would be the Art Institute. Nationally, the Met. Internationally, the Rijksmuseum. The are so many places I would like to go and visit on the east coast.
-What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
I would have to say my north skylight. I searched for a house that faces north so I could paint from natural cool light.
-Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?
Outdoor nature settings. I just discovered the Chicago Botanic Garden this year and it inspired me to do some gardening & landscaping in my yard. This summer, I hope to paint some of the flowers I planted last year.
-Do you collect anything?
I have some art: a couple David Leffel paintings, Scott Burdick, Clayton Beck and a Susan Clinard sculpture. I like wine so I’ve collected some bottles to lay down for future occasions. I would like to start collecting antique picture frames and exotic cars, but collecting PEZ dispensers is all I can afford right now.
-What’s your art-world pet peeve?
I could think of many but wish to keep it this interview positive.
-What’s your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?
-Do you have a gallery/museum-going routine?
No but I wish I did and I’m trying to get back into one.
-What work of art do you wish you owned?
Any Rembrandt self portrait. If I had to narrow it would be one of these 1630, 1640, 1642, 1658, 1659, 1661, 1665.
-Who are some of your favorite dead, and living artists?
Dead: Rembrandt, William Merrit Chase, Nicolai Fechin, Henri Fantin-Latour, William Bouguerea, Sargent, Boldini, Pieter Claesz, Andrew Wyeth
Living: Steven Assael, Odd Nerdrum, Bo Bartlett, David Leffel, Richard Schmid, Rose Frantzen
-Who have been most significant to you in your development as an artist?
Andrew Conklin, David Leffel, Clayton Beck
-What are one or two factors that make it more difficult for you to flourish?
Not a good enough understanding about the business end of the art world. Not surrounding myself with enough of the right people (on the business/gallery side).
-What are one or two primary areas of fear for you as an artist?
Time is so valuable and I fear I sometimes go down the wrong path or take the long way.
A fear of how finances can sometimes get in the way of the creative process.
-Ideally speaking, with reference to your life and work as an artist, where would you like to be in five years?
Being able to incorporate my new ideas into paint, continue to be prolific and produce a steady flow of quality work. Consistently have exhibits every 9-12 months apart between a gallery or galleries, public spaces and/or possibly a museum.
-What would people be surprised to learn about you?
It seems in the community where I live, people are surprised that I am an artist making a living.
I think my artist friends are surprised that I love to garden, cook and do wine pairings. I am also active with sports and my son’s activities.
-Where can we find you?
-What art blogs or websites would you recommend?
-What would your advise be to your younger self?
Take art history and find a mentor in the art world.
-What is your advise to emerging artists?
Make a database of everyone you meet. Save money and minimize debt … unless that motivates you.