I was born in Niagara Falls, NY. Being raised Irish/Catholic, not unusual for that area, may account for some of the melancholy, dark humor and celebration of very simple things in a lot of my work.
I attended college at Alfred University to avoid the overseas travel that was being thrust upon many of my friends at the time. I entered the art curriculum because it seemed like the easiest way to bullshit my way through four years of partying. I was wrong. Alfred and I had a mutually agreed upon parting of the ways late in my sophomore year. It turned out I was a horrible art student.
I did get one good thing out of college – Nick Berger, a lifelong friend. He was a successful art student, painting landscapes and still-life portraits, while I was turning out the usual 60’s psychedelic abstracts and crappy sculptures. We did have one thing in common though – beer, wine and acid. Yeah, alright alright I know, that’s three things. Every so often we’d get high and go driving or tramping through the woods and fields of southerntier New York for sketches. I always wanted one of his paintings but couldn’t afford it, so I decided to use him as my teacher. I began using the sketches as studies for my own landscapes instead of using them to start campfires or lighting joints. I began painting...and people would buy them! Dumbfounded, I continued to paint.
I’m not a good technical painter – I can’t paint on demand – I can’t “find” a painting. They find me. I do love the process of painting. The blank paper is like a book with no cover, no title. You start reading, and if it’s a good story, you don’t want it to end. A painting in process becomes my fantasy world for a while. I live in the piece while it’s being created. I feel the cold or heat, the happiness or sadness, the mud or snow. If it’s a good painting, I hate finishing it. The nicest compliment I ever received was that they felt they could smell what it was like in the scene. I’ve tried to live up to that comment ever since. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not.
Artists who’ve influenced me? Nick Berger, Pieter Bruegel, Andrew Wyeth, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock.
Why did I choose watercolor as my medium? Because it’s so easy to clean the brushes. Swish ‘em in water, suck out the excess moisture, store ‘em bristles up. Imagine that!