At what point in your life did you decide to become a professional artist?
I’ve been interested in art since childhood. I studied fine art at Kent State University and concentrated on painting. After college, I realized I wanted to be more involved in promoting local art and artists – between 2003 and 2007. I started HEDGE Gallery while I had another full-time office job. When I lost that job, I took this on as a full-time business.
What’s one of the most special items you’ve ever made for a customer?
I created a large-scale commission painting for a beautiful mid-century home in Shaker Heights. Typically, my work is inspired by the water, especially Lake Erie. This commission was an evolution into that series. The client had seen recent work I’d created. They liked the abstract nature and impressionistic feeling of it. They knew they wanted something similar, which actually turned out to be a replication of a smaller painting of mine they saw at a gallery. To this day, we stay in touch and they tell me how much it enhances their home.
Many times, with commissions, my team bases color, size, price etc. on the existing structure and interior design of a client’s home, office, etc. We set up consultations and send our clients proposals with artwork suggestions. I personally create commission paintings as well which is always an exciting challenge! Some artists feel like they’re constricted when working within commission limitations, but I enjoy working on and developing ideas with others so the end product is an incredible one-of-a-kind artwork for them to forever enjoy.
If you listen to music while creating, what’s on your playlist?
I sometimes listen to music, but what I listen to depends on my mood and what I’m creating: classical to jazz to electronic. Music doesn’t inspire my art. It’s just background for me while I’m creating.
Where do you go to find inspiration in and around Cleveland?
Lake Erie. I live in Rocky River and have easy access to the river and the lake. I paddleboard, kayak and boat. Experiencing the water one-on-one is very important to how I paint. Currently I’m painting with Sherwin-Williams latex paint instead of oil. I’m pouring the paint onto the canvas as part of the process. This emulates the feeling of water, capturing its movement and flow. I’ll often take videos when I’m out on the water and reference those when I paint. I also photograph the water to capture shapes and textures. Honestly, photos don’t do the water justice; I really need the moving images to re-spark that inspiration.