Becoming An Artist:

My Story

I grew up surfing & skating in New Jersey, painting & drawing only as a hobby. After high school graduation in 1996, seeking to escape the cold NJ winters, I enrolled at the University of Central Florida. I earned a degree in Criminal Justice & set my heart on a career in federal law enforcement.

Borrowing my dad's sunglasses and a pencil to sketch ruins during a family trip to Greece many moons ago.

Between classes at UCF, I passed the time by drawing things I saw, sometimes my own hands.

Upon graduation while still applying for jobs, fate stepped in. A person touring my family's FL real estate saw my work hanging on the walls. He owned a small animation studio & hired me on the spot as a color key. I became a quick study, excelling at what I thought was a temporary job. One studio led to another and eventually I had a fledgling art career.

I was asked to paint a manatee mural for Celebration School. Sadly, the mural was dismantled and stolen from the school's campus shortly after I finished. Ironically, this was the 2nd stolen mural, the first being one I painted for my junior prom.

A few designs I made for my brother's former skateboard company.

I worked in small animation studios for many years. When Disney closed their FL studios, some artists stayed in FL and I found myself working alongside quite possibly the most talented artists I've ever known, right there in those small studios. Their influence proved invaluable.

In 2008, I earned a role at the well-respected EA Sports Tiburon (Electronic Arts) as a character artist creating human likenesses for Madden and NCAA Football games - combining my love for art, gaming and football.

While waiting for jobs to run at EA, I passed the time by sketching on lined notebook paper with pen, filling my cubicle walls with art. Some of those sketches later became paintings.

Working in animation and video game art further inspired my passion for art and oil painting. An empty bedroom in my home became a studio where I spent my hours creating. With each new painting, I longed to build a career as a fine artist.

On weekends, I started showing my work at local art festivals. Feedback from passersby fueled my new dream and I decided to take the leap and pursue painting fulltime.

I received my first (and only) festival blue ribbon for the painting "Nightlight" which featured an early version of Beauregard (a.k.a. Beau) the frog. The ribbon still hangs in my studio.

I found my style using character and light to tell a story with each painting. I want people to be happy when they see my work, so I create stories that personally make me smile or laugh. Equally, I want the technical side of my paintings noticed. I emphasize lighting, composition and color when I paint - all decide the emotional outcome of a painting.

Beauregard (Beau) first appeared in the paintings Hey You and Hey Me after I spotted a frog on my office window and the story teller in me began imagining his story. Today, Beau appears in every piece I paint, sometimes hidden.

Since first being introduced in early paintings, Beau's look has evolved. Beau now appears in all of my paintings and is sometimes hidden. Finding him has become a challenge embraced by collectors.

When I paint, I imagine "Places I'd Rather Be" and "Friends Along The Way." Both are recurring themes that have organically resulted in two collections of work.

The first time a gallery asked to hang my artwork … it was an amazing day. Each time since then, I get giddy seeing my artwork hang on gallery walls.

Beau and his Friends Along The Way have come a long distance throughout the years with their story growing to include new Friends including a duckling, a friendly gator, a turtle and more. Their tale remains the same - find adventure, make new friends, laugh, explore and journey through life together.

In 2010, I was invited to become a Disney artist. As a lifelong fan with great appreciation for background art in classic Disney films (Disney artist James Coleman was my greatest influence early in my career), the honor was not lost on me. I jumped at the opportunity.

A few years later, I was granted license to paint Star Wars. All of my boyhood dreams came true on canvas … and then George Lucas purchased some of my Star Wars originals --- mind blown.

I acknowledge the opportunities I've received and I'm fortunate that my art has seen some success throughout the years. I am thankful for every single moment that has been gifted to me. But the biggest gift is the smile from those seeing my work.

When a child spots Beau ...

When a teacher laughs and connects with Detention ...

When a couple becomes engaged with a commissioned painting ...

When a family is moved by their story come to life on canvas ...

Those are the moments that are truly inspiring to me and they're the reason I'm driven to create.