For 35 years, I enjoyed a successful career in fine art, exploring the opposing worlds of abstract art and traditional still life. But chance intervened when a mischievous toddler added her two-cents worth to one of my still life settings, prompting me to see my work in an entirely new way. The incident occurred in 2010 when I entered my home studio to find a still life setup of vintage hand tools had been augmented with a plastic dump truck and driver by my young granddaughter, who had carefully placed the small toy in the thick of the scene. Intrigued by the juxtaposition between the weathered tools and the bright plastic, I tinkered with the display until I got the idea for The Great Escape – wherein a brave dump truck driver starts a Rube Goldberge-esque process in motion to rescue his toolbox-imprisoned friends. Since I was already “breaking the rules” for appropriate still life subject matter, I decided to step even further outside the genre by incorporating an abstract background. The artistic union was complete: still life precision, abstract art vibrancy, and a way to insert my cheeky British humor – all in one painting. My wife Sharon and I laughed the whole time I was designing the scene. It was such fun to tell a story in this way. Perhaps the funniest thing about The Great Escape was that I assumed that his collectors wouldn’t be interested in the work, fearing they would find the lighthearted subject matter to be too frivolous. Much to my surprise, I sold the painting before the varnish was even dry. Since this time, I have been satisfying collectors nationwide who enjoy my blend of the worlds of realism and abstract art served with dollop of humor and wordplay. I’ve had people burst into tears when they see a painting that triggers a memory and also had people burst into laughter when they see the humor in an image. Knowing that people have such a personal reaction to the work is the best part of what I do.
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