Ever since my junior high art teacher Mr. Blanock convinced my parents to drive me to the Cleveland Museum of Art every Saturday to sketch in front of the masters, I have wanted to be an artist. By the time I was ready for college, I decided to become a biological illustrator, drawing and painting the plants and animals I loved so others would know and appreciate them as much I do.
Except for one “minor” glitch when I got to Kent State. I wanted to minor in art and major in zoology but being in the exploding sixties, the college was just too full of budding artists to let a student just minor in art. Besides, the Profs told me wildlife art wasn’t “art” anyway, so go away.
Besides hanging out at the art museum, I also wandered around the 18,000+ acres in the Cleveland, OH Metro Parks. I heard they were looking for college kids to work weekends at trailside museums, so I applied and well... the rest is history. That first job led to a 30 year career in parks and recreation working my way up from naturalist to forester to superintendent to director to the current parks commissioner position I hold today after retirement.
During my working career, I met and was influenced by Robert Bateman, Charlie Harper, John Ruthven and former Cleveland Metro Park Naturalist Don Eckleberry. The most profound influence came from fellow naturalist and artist Donald Altemus. He helped me craft a plan for self-development that included seeking out artists and studying their techniques, attending select college courses at the Cleveland Institute of art in composition, design, color theory, print making.
I attended local art workshops given by watercolorists Fred Leach, George Wervey, wildlife artist David Rankin, and Arleta Pech, florals.
As soon as I retired I headed west to WY to attend the Susan K Black Workshop in Dubois. Here I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Greg Beechum, H. Hertling, John Banovich, and John Seery-Lester.
Now after 43 years and three retirements, I still have the desire to expand my artistic horizons.