I spent the first 10 years of my childhood in foster homes in northern New Jersey and the next seven years with my maternal aunt and uncle. I enlisted in the Air Force and was sworn in at 17. I was stationed at the Johnson Air Force base in Japan, Far East Strategic Air Command, when I received a letter from my father who had been searching for me. Anxious to meet the dad I never knew, I fought for and won an honorable discharge so I could be with the family I never had – father, brother, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles – in Millville, NJ.
Years later, when my daughter wanted to move with her little girl to Traverse City, I moved with them and supported them through factory work. After the girls moved on and settled in Wisconsin, I moved to Chicago. In 1994 I applied for care at a Veterans Administration hospital where I was diagnosed with neuropathy and diabetes. I have been in a wheelchair ever since. I currently live at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
In grade school, my drawings were often displayed on bulletin boards – my first solo exhibits! But with so much happening in my young life, I didn’t take my love of art seriously until I won first place in an art fair at the VA in Chicago. With that validation, it didn’t take much for me to pursue drawing with fervor. I favor pen and ink with colored pencil and graphite pencils, though I am considering exploring paint in the coming year.
I have no formal training, only what God taught me! I can’t explain exactly where my ideas come from, but my drawings start with one pencil line and grow from there until I feel a piece is finished. Now and then I will choose to draw something figurative such as an animal or a still life. More often, I create what I call “Creative Art by Design and Imagination.”
When I first started these drawings, I filled the paper entirely. One day, my daughter observed, “Dad, you have to fill in the whole paper!” I then realized I was free to draw just until I felt satisfied, as long as the finished pieced looked balanced. The bottom line: It is my desire to follow my muse with each drawing, which comes from my own imagination. All my work has to be creative.