Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, I've spent much of life on the east coast. I embraced web development and digital design throughout the 90s before going upstate to Rochester Institute of Technology for print media.
In my college years I absorbed everything I could get my hands on, including design, coding, photography, videography, music, print processes, technical writing, and communications. Throughout that time I began to gradually put my focus into Photoshop, InDesign, and front-end web development before getting a job as a Creative Director at a startup medical marketing agency in San Diego in 2007.
Today I run my own creative agency, Heller, Inc. in sunny San Diego, CA.
In early 2014, I decided to challenge my lifelong casual hobby of drawing once or twice a year by creating daily charcoal portraits. By mid-year I took the leap to learn the basics of oil painting in an independent class led by Lela Harty in North Park, San Diego.
From 2014—2018 most of my work was filled with tedious trial-and-error and emotional ups and downs while slowly, sometimes painfully, laying the groundwork for my preferred style. Objectively observing the good and the lacking from each piece allowed me to slowly grow more comfortable with translating my taste to canvas.
Today, I approach each new painting with the goal of creating something provocative, unique, and, if I'm lucky, pretty fucking cool.
Materials & Process
The question I get asked most is how long it takes to paint. Some I start and finish in 3 hours. Some take me 60 and span over the course of 2+ years. All depends.
After years of experimentation with different paints, brushes, and canvases, I can honestly say I have no loyalty to any specific brand in particular. Here are specifics for those who must need to know:
- Rosemary & Co brushes - I typically buy a new set each year. I tend to prefer flat over round brushes.
- Multiple canvases - I've used expensive linen from WindRiverArts and cheap canvas boards from Blick. They're almost all the same to me
- Gamblin, Winsor Newton, and Blick oil paint - Gamblin for the core colors, Winsor Newton for the good/rare colors, and Blick for when I want to not care about wasting that precious pigment
- Linseed oil & liquin mediums - I always start thin on new canvases or dry paint.
- Other junk - Sometimes I experiment with rubber rollers, soft and hard sponges, rags, and whatever is handy in the studio to make a mess with
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