Millions of people paint each day. From watercolors in a kindergarten classroom to oil paints on the floor of a SoHo studio apartment. Artists are everywhere. Most of them are searching for something deeper, something inside of them. Others use art as a tool to release tension or stress. Some wanting to find out if they have what it takes to be the next master, or simply to see if they have any talents at all. I believe we all have more talents and creative abilities than we could ever use. But it is so hidden within us it takes hours and days if not years to express and find it. Before most do, they give up and move on to something easier or simply more fun. For me, ART is a way of expressing myself as often as I can. And I kind of took my art career into my own hands. I have spent years of trial and error to find out what creativity means. But not only have I done the work on my own, I have had extensive training too. Besides my mom and dad, I am particularly grateful to Mrs. Barbara Kajdi, my fourth-grade art teacher, for entering me into the 1st ever Kanagawa Biennial Children’s Art Exhibition.
The Kanagawa Biennial Children's Art Exhibit has been held every two years since 1980. Held in Kanagawa Prefecture to the south of Tokyo, this event exhibits children’s art from all over the world and is intended to use the power of painting to foster the dreams and creativity of today’s young children who will go on to become the leaders of tomorrow. The exhibition is also intended to further understanding of the world’s diverse cultures and differences in global lifestyles. Over 24,000 entries and 85 different countries. For me, it was life-changing.
From grade school to high school, art became very serious and time-consuming. If I wasn’t on the lacrosse field, I was painting in the studio. If I was on the lacrosse field, my stick was my weapon, off the field and in the studio, my pencils, brushes, and paint knives were my weapons. The canvas being my opponent. Always challenging me to come up with something more creative, always something different. A way to grab the attention of the crowd. Even for just a second. TO WIN at all costs. And I am especially grateful to Mr. Janishefski at Calvert Hall College Prep School in Towson, Maryland for his patience and his knowledge. From basic drawing, advanced painting in different media. Beginning with oil painting, watercolor, and acrylic… composition and design, sculpture, wood carving, and this was just the beginning of my basic training with Mr. J. In my senior year at CHC Prep School, I received the award for the top HS artist in the country. This award is given out to only 2 HS students in the advanced programs—one for painting and one for drawing.
My evaluation was based on my drawing portfolio and 3 major categories: (1) Quality – the development in advance of excellence in art, (2) Concentration – a personal commitment to a particular mode of working and thinking, (3) Breadth – a variety of experiences in the formal, technical, and expressive means available to an artist. After 4 years with Mr. J, I received a full scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for ART. I turned down that full scholarship to CMU and decided to follow another passion of mine, LACROSSE. I accepted a scholarship for lacrosse to Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland where I combined both my talent to ART and LACROSSE. Continuing with drawing and painting with a world-traveled artist by the name of Carol Frost. I learned a wide range of understanding of what art is all about. I would reach even deeper inside myself to discover a real hidden artist. And assured of one thing, the excitement of self-discovery is a thrill second to none. I had to learn a willingness to let myself go. To release my imagination and stir up my memories. This way, I could attain a personal quality in my work. To work by intuition, solving many problems on an unconscious level or by accident.
Painting to me is growth. Almost problem-solving. Developing my skills, talents, and passion for my own sanity. Moving forward and experimenting. My style has changed periodically. A mature growth I guess? But not by far a final end. There are many painters who you can recognize right away. I’m not sure that can be me. I look back and see so many different styles and stages in my life. I don’t want to make a stroke and say that’s not me, that’s not my style, or is it? I don’t want to be stuck in that glass box. That no one can see. But it is there. And so many artists are stuck in it. A writer may call it writer’s block. I like change. Change is good and change is all around us. Everywhere I go, I carry a journal or sketchbook. I see something I love or something that catches my eye, inspires me and I come back to it. It may not be for years but having all of my ideas in my journal, I know that I will be able to come back, maybe not in person but in my memory and in my imagination. My journal/sketchbook is what a writer would say is his or her shorthand. Quick pen or pencil sketches with notes for color.
Life and art have brought me a long way from the Kanagawa Biennial Children's Art Exhibit. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA with my son and best friend Finn Patrick Johnson. Finny was born on June 9th, 2009. My most treasured piece is Finny; unfortunately, currently, he is not for sale. Finn has opened my eyes to so many new things and made me see and understand things in ways I thought I already understood. Not to mention, the sunrise and I have become a lot more familiar. Now Finn is four, we truly appreciate the little things in life. Finn’s adventure’s being many of them. Notice what your child notices and your senses are heightened. I often wonder what Finn is thinking about. What is he dreaming about? Why the frown? What makes him laugh? Smile? Giggle? What makes him sad and how I can make him feel better? That brings me back to the little things. The crackle of the newspaper, the sound of a spoon against a glass, a blade of grass, to the largest skyscrapers. Just look around you, art is everywhere. Between God and man, the world is filled with so many brilliant pieces of art. Finn helps me to stop and recognize the beautiful world around me. We can learn a lot from our children. They too are our canvases, and now I see that I am his.
From producing movies, canvases, scripts, and sculptures, these ideas all come from personal experiences.