I was born into poverty in the mountains of West Virginia in 1971. My Grandparents raised me alongside six of their daughters and one son. A small house filled with 10 people meant that we never had much food or space. The environment to which I was born created a debilitating introversion that plagued me during my youth. To say I was "shy" would be a monumental understatement! Creating Artwork, coupled with my love of nature, gave me a voice when I had no words
In my late teens I found that by challenging myself to reach out when my introversion was closing me in, I could achieve things that seemed unimaginable to me just years before. College, travel, performing – they were all such impossible dreams. But those dreams just wouldn’t fade. At age 20, I was accepted to Berea College, in Berea, KY, a college where low-income students with promise can attend tuition-free. Art had given me a voice, and now it had given me a path to education.
Being the first, and only member of my family to ever achieve such a feet, I was determined to use my time in college to the fullest. And so I did! After my freshman year, I traveled to Florence, Italy to study Art and Italian Culture for the summer. It was a trip that would change my life! Prior to traveling to Italy, I rarely left the small region I was from. I had never seen the ocean. I had never been on a plane. All of that changed in the summer of 1992 when I swallowed my fears and grabbed hold of a dream.
While walking along the Arno River in Florence, I could practically hear Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo speaking to me, encouraging me (oddly, in English!). I could feel the Artistic energy that flowed from past to present and into me. I imagined walking the same path the great Artists had. I had never been so inspired to create. Painting, sculpture, printmaking, music, poetry, photography – all things creative called to me after that visit to Italy. I felt truly alive for the first time in my life. I had broken through that final shell of introversion - that shell that had kept me so safe and so sad for so long. All I could think was, “Thank you Leo, and thank you Mike!”
After college, and with a finite amount of time available outside of working in the environmental field, I left my Artistic side on the shelf, in favor of my musical self. For 10 years I focused my energies on three distinctive musical projects and rarely produced visual art outside of the occasional commissioned piece. That imbalance changed when my wife, Amy, and I moved from Kentucky to San Diego in early 2008. Once we settled in on the West Coast, I felt something I hadn’t felt in quite a while: Artistic inspiration. I could have sworn that Leo and Mike were wagging their fingers at me, asking where I’d been for so many years!
With my muse back, and the lovely, blue sky above me, I immediately thought back to what inspired me as a child: beauty in form, and beauty in nature. Having grown up around so many women and so many trees, it was only a matter of time before I combined them both into one. And the Art Nouveau style seemed a perfect way to do just that!
Through the years, I’ve come to realize one important thing about myself, no matter how many times I’ve ignored it: I was born to create. Born to create Art and born to create music. All those years I spent without a voice…and now I can’t seem to keep quiet!