One thing I think about a lot is how I started doing the things that I love. What are the crucial moments where I said, "I want to do that". I think about these moments as windows of inspiration; they are basically times in my life, people and other experience that have really influenced me.
For instance, I started drawing as a kid and really felt my first burst of excitement for drawing when I watched Dragon Ball Z. I vividly remember being 9/10 years old and desperately wanting to draw like Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball Z). I was really influenced by some early drawing books that I had and that I got at the elementary school library. I remember having one drawing book that showed you how to draw Yoda from Star Wars and I drew it and felt completely addicted. I'm not really into Star Wars, but that drawing book changed my life. A few years later I remember watching a PBS documentary about John Singer Sargent and they showed a portrait that Sargent painted of John D. Rockefeller; I was blown away by this also--I can't even really explain the feeling of intense fascination.
Flash forward to when I was at the Pennsylvania Academy and I met my friend, Asem Ahmed, and he introduced me to the work of William Bouguereau. I was subsequently obsessed with Bouguereau for the next 5 years. I still love Bouguereau, but I've become more interested in other painting styles.
Later, I worked at Sotheby's auction house in 2013. They had an exhibition space on their upper level floor so I went upstairs and was looking at an exhibition of works for sale and they had one painting by an artist that I had never heard of: Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. This is the painting that was in the exhibition sale. The photo doesn't do it justice, but I was completely blown away by it. The light and color hit me so hard and I still haven't shaken the feeling. I later visited the Museo Sorolla in 2018 and came back with an urge to paint en plein air in bright sunlight. Those plein air paintings became the basis for my application portfolio to apply for the Munn Fellowship Award. I think a part of my interest in impressionist painters is also because of my colorblindness. Maybe I should have been more of a tonalist painter, but I can't help but having a love affair with the impressionist palette of colors.
My art is also influenced by the work of Hayao Miyazaki. While I was in college, I had a writing teacher at PENN who introduced me to Miyazaki. I've become a complete Studio Ghibli fanboy since then. The narratives, artwork and style of Miyazaki films have left a deep impression on me.
Another thing I love to do is skateboarding. I was interested in skateboarding at a young age and one memory that is burned into my mind is seeing a guy who lived down the street skateboarding, I saw him skating and was enamored. All I know is his name was Bill and he had really long hair, but I want to thank him for that brief window of inspiration.
A larger window of inspiration was from my Opa. I'm continually inspired by him because he loved Motorcycles, engines and he also was good at drawing; my Mom says I have the same sense of humor and I look like him also. (He was colorblind too). I still remember the smell of his motorcycles in his garage.
I also feel thankful that I grew up in the early internet and pre-cellphone days because you often had to get inspiration first hand or hear things through the grapevine instead of seeing them on youtube or wherever; it has more power and impact when you get the first hand experience. I could go on and on, but I just want to keep my eyes and ears open and try to keep cool people around me, read good books and most importantly to just keep doing what I love.
I just read this awesome article about the singer of The Lumineers, Wesley Shultz, and his thoughts on motorcycles and music. I'm a big fan of their music and it's interesting that Shultz grew up in Ramsey, N.J., close to where I live and grew up. As an artist, I completely agree with the connection between motorcycles and the genesis of ideas. There's something meditative about riding that cultivates creativity.
This article was sent to me in the Triumph newsletter which always has great content. Click on the image below to read the article and to watch the video.
"'I’ve been riding anytime it’s a clear day. It’s become a catalyst for coming up with lyrics and melodies. You feel like you have this hit of dopamine, but you have to be ready to react quickly. You can’t be on your phone. You can’t be anywhere else in your mind.'”
I'm gathering some tips here for putting a motorcycle away for the winter. This is the way I do it and I've learned this mostly from the Triumph dealership where I bought my bike: Locomotion Powersports in Mahwah, NJ. I keep my bike in an unheated garage so these tips will be different if you keep your bike outside because you'll need a bike cover in that case.
The first thing I do is to get a full tank of high quality gas. It's good to fill the tank before you put a bike away. With the gas, I also put in some gas stabilizer (measurements are on the bottle).
The next thing I do is fill my tires, I use a portable air compressor from P.I. Auto Store and it's been working great for years. *Make sure your tires are cold before you inflate them
When my bike is ready to be put in my garage, I roll it onto two carpet swatches from an old carpet roll. This is good for the tires because it stops the tires from developing flat spots. Since my bike is over 500 pounds, it can be tricky to line up both tires onto the carpet so I measured out the distance between my tires and measured out the swatches on the garage floor before rolling the bike in.
Alright that's it, now it's time to wait until riding season starts again.
This past weekend I went painting en plein air with my friend Asem and ran into some frustration. Sometimes a painting doesn't go well and there's nothing you can do except to learn something from it. The weather was beautiful regardless and we had a fun time hiking to our painting spot. If you live around Bergen County, NJ, then check out our PCD En Plein Air events that I host.
With the frustration of yesterday, I realized the importance of painting what you enjoy and what you're inspired by. I did a painting today of a scene that I've wanted to paint for a while and it came out great. While I was painting, I was thinking about a Sargent painting, Venetian Glass Workers (1880/2). I've seen the painting a few times in person in Chicago and it always stuck with me.
I'm also proud to announce that our Pushing Colored Dirt fall 2020 courses are open for registration. I'm teaching a bunch of different adult courses and you can check out all the awesome instructors that are a part of our crew. If you have questions you can also email me at email@example.com
I'll be writing again soon because I haven't written enough recently. Have an awesome week.