I grew up in the suburbs of Virginia. Although I always knew I didn’t want to work a desk job, I had no clue what to do with my life. My FEARS of the future, Regret, and being Lonely made me depressed growing up, specifically during high school. All throughout school I did seem to have a knack for drawing, creating things and solving problems. But I had always heard art isn’t a real job and you can’t make a living as an artist. Had I known any professional artists at that time, I might have considered it an option. But I didn’t. The idea of choosing a career path that I didn’t like and getting stuck with student loans terrified me. I knew deep down that I shouldn’t have to settle for a life I hated, I just didn’t know what that would look like yet…
Like most grandmothers, my grandma (Baba) always believed in me from a young age. She saw great potential in me that I couldn’t see in myself. Baba had taught for 30+ years as an art professor for university and was still actively teaching there through my teen years. She would encourage me to draw and give me pointers ultimately becoming my first and most influential teacher. When I would get frustrated that I couldn’t draw something, Baba would show me how to fix it. When I made mistakes, Baba would teach me the fundamentals so that I would understand for myself why something didn’t look right. She taught me about materials and helped me with my first oil painting. She even found a venue for my first one-man art exhibition at the age of 17. We seemed to have this unspoken agreement between the two of us, that if I kept practicing and working hard, I could really make this art thing a career.
This was about the time that I painted a portrait of a fallen state trooper and gave it to his family. Their reaction to my painting changed my life forever. It was this painting, and how I saw it effect a family in such a positive way, that lead me to truly believe in myself and my art.
Right after that I had my one-man art show. I sold all my paintings and made 1 million dollars and never had to worry about work again. Right?... Wrong. In my 17-year-old brain, that’s exactly how I saw my show playing out and all my problems would be solved. That isn’t what happened. The reality was that I sold a few pieces to family members and friends that were kind enough to come and support me. This was a HUGE win, but I knew that I wasn’t making a living yet. I did think back on everything that happened around that time and knew that the coolest thing was hands down the feeling I got from giving my work to that family. That moment replayed in my mind over and over again and I realized that THAT was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew that my art could actually make a difference, that I could genuinely improve others’ lives. Most importantly, I knew that I loved what I was doing.
The problem was that I was still broke and I had a lot to learn.
Because I really disliked school growing up, I decided art school wasn’t for me. So Instead, I decided to go the non-traditional route and learn from people in the industry that I wanted to be like. I became a student of the Blue Ridge Plein Air Painters: David Heath, Lois Virginia Babb, Rodney Laughon, and Charlie Turner. We would get together and paint outdoors which was a foreign and uncomfortable idea to me at the time. I sought out the best books on Fine Art that I could find, studying Artists like Richard Schmid, Edgar Payne, John Carlson, Anders Zorn, and Charles Bargue. I also started taking notes ferociously from online painting videos by Scott Christensen, Richard Schmid and Casey Baugh.
Once Covid-19 started here in the United States, the world seemed to grind to a screeching halt. When we were advised to stay indoors; I made a commitment to myself that I would not waste 2020 by playing victim. Those first few days of March 2020 I started studying and reproducing paintings from established artists that I liked for practice. I took advantage of my time at home by painting even more than I had already been. Around the middle of August 2020, I packed up my studio and moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to spend the fall season painting in the Blue Ridge Mountains. During my time in the Blue Ridge, I was fortunate to win “Best Artist Under 30” for Plein Air Magazine, and a Second Place Award for an Oil Painting in the 31st Annual Art Show of Moneta VA.
The new year brought with it a whole new scope of possibilities. With more confidence in my skills and a strong drive to explore the country, I began participating in my first ever plein air painting competitons. From 2021-2022, I identified as a, "Plein Air Artist" and ended up competing in over 12 events, jumping from competition to competiton, state to state, and selling my plein air work almost exclusively. When I did happen to be home in between trips, I started to think up new and exciting ways to help others with my work; including a series of auctions to benefit the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation and the Christian Wood Scholarship Fund.
Although my favorite subject matter has been narrowed down to landscapes, nothing has changed since I began on this journey. From the time that I could hold a pencil, I have loved creating. But, as much as I love making art, it brings me no greater joy than to create something that someone else treasures. My real passion is creating fine art for others... people just like you!
This year I am focused on moving away from the plein air competitons, and using the ideas from my painting adventures to create larger works in the studio.
Awards and Distinctions:
"Best Artist Under 30," Plein Air Salon, October 2020
2nd Place Oil Painting, 31st Annual Art Show Moneta, Virginia 2020
"Peoples Choice Award & Honorable Mention," Harford Plein Air 2021
Raised $5,700 for Various Non-Profit Organizations Local to Richmond VA Over the Course of 2021-2022
"21 Under 31," Featured Artist in Southwest Art Magazine 2021
Sold Out during En Plein Air Texas 2021,
Participating Artist in EPAT 2022
Participating Artist In Door County Plein Air 2022
Solo Exhibition, the Glass House, Lynchburg VA 2017
"Size Doesn't Matter," Virtual Exhibition, Glave Kocen Gallery 2021
"40 Under 40," Shenandoah Valley Art Center 2021
"Solitary Landscape" Solo Exhibition, Lynchburg Academy Center of the Arts 2021
31st, 32nd and 33rd Annual Art Show Moneta, Virginia 2020, 2021, 2022
As of February 2023, I have been self represented, selling strictly through my website and enjoying the freedom and the relationships that come from working directly with my friends and collectors.