I would say my passion for drawing was obvious as a child to family and friends – my earliest memories are of me in diapers with a pencil in my hand! Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I turned 25 that I finally enrolled in art school to seek the formal training I craved.
Just the year before, I went on a four day fast on a mountain in the state of Washington. I was there looking for direction and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Up there on that beautiful mountain I was alone – just me and the Earth – there were no distractions, not even food.
During the fast, I remember feeling lonely, bored, and incredibly hungry – especially for the things in my life that where familiar. But I also remember moments of intense clarity and an appreciation for, and a connection to, something greater I had never felt before. On the third night of my fast I finally realized that I wanted to be an artist. I came back down from that mountain and immediately enrolled in art school.
In the fall of 1995, I started my studies at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland, California, but grew frustrated with the lack of traditional academic training in drawing and painting. In my junior year, I took a leave of absence to further my studies abroad, and I soon enrolled at the Florence Academy of Art (FAA) in Florence, Italy. The FAA introduced me to the sound fundamental skills and techniques I yearned for. After studying in Florence for a year, I returned home to California to complete my studies at CCAC. I graduated with honors in 2000, then I worked for the next few years as an illustrator, as an apprentice for a Bay Area sculptor, and as a teacher at a private studio in Oakland.
During those years, I felt an intense pull to return to Florence. I knew I had touched on something at the FAA that I had to finish. I wanted to be a painter, but a painter whose skills and craft come from, and express, the confidence and authority rooted within a strong academic tradition — a tradition based on an understanding and appreciation of nature. I had to go back to Florence and finish my training.
Just a week before I was to return to Florence in 2002, I received a phone call from the FAA Director Daniel Graves. He asked me if I would be willing to teach a class he wanted to offer his students at the academy – an advanced course in artistic anatomy called Écorché. I took his offer. I will always be grateful to Daniel for the wonderful opportunity he gave me. Not only was I able to return to the FAA to continue my academic training, but I had the chance to be an instructor at one of the best traditional art schools in the world. By 2006, I had completed the FAA drawing and painting program, and I had also become the FAA’s Director of Anatomy and one of its principal drawing instructors. Two years later, I returned home to California.
Upon returning from Florence, I taught three years for the graduate program of the San Francisco Academy of Art University and have conducted workshops at a number of schools all over the United States including the Grand Central Academy in New York, the Academy of Realist Art in Boston, the Conservatory for Classical Art in Oklahoma, and the Ashland Art Center in Oregon. In 2010, I founded my own art school, the Golden Gate Atelier (GGA) in Oakland, California. The GGA offers instruction in traditional academic drawing, painting, and écorché to students from around the world.
I have received numerous awards for my figure drawings, including scholarships from the Art Renewal Center and the Stacey Foundation. I also have a number of paintings and drawings that are privately owned in Europe and in the United States.