Growing up in California just minutes away from Disneyland left an indelible mark on my life.
Each week Walt Disney himself sat in our living room, on primetime television, introducing us to The Wonderful World of Disney. He always captivated me. Then of course there was the Mickey Mouse Club, to which, in my imagination–I belonged. To this day what strikes me so deeply, is not the Disney empire itself, but the creativity that oozes out of every crevasse and permeates the air. It made me long to be a creator.
Although I was born with a pencil in my hand, it was Disney that made me want to be an artist–their artist.
That’s it. That is all I ever wanted to be while growing up. I had little use for anything that did not further that ambition (such as math or spelling). My parents fed that monster by using me for party entertainment. They would have me sit and draw a characterization of their guests, just like the street artists in Disneyland.
Becoming a Disney cartoonist faded long ago with my childhood.
Then once again in the early eighties I found my creativity. Photorealism portraits in graphite and charcoal rekindled my desire to create. Who needs Disney now? I had beautiful children to draw.
My first (and last) art show was in 1983. That date is etched in my memory because of two significant events that came to light during that show.
First, there was the brief encounter with a woman that set the bar for what I wanted my art to achieve. This unnamed woman, meticulously groomed and tailored, with a briefcase in one hand and a clipboard in the other, whisked by me and my display. Her stride was long and as swift as her spike heals would allow. It took her about two extra steps past me before she could come to a complete stop. Then she pivoted, took those two steps back and stopped. For just one moment she gazed at one of my drawings. Her face softened as a quiet “Awe” slipped out. Then off again she went.
It didn’t matter that she didn’t buy my work. What she gave me for it was priceless; the highest compliment I could receive as an artist–it stopped her in her tracks. The demands of the day bowed for just a few seconds to enjoy a moment–it touched her.
From that day forward, I wanted to give all of my art that same “Awe” quality.
The second thing that came out of that art show ended my art career, and set a new course for my life.