Wednesday, January 30, 2013

finding his way back

I am so excited today to introduce (or re-introduce) you to my husband Andy! If you didn't know- he is an artist too but we are complete opposites when it comes to creating. While I am messy, abstract and free- he is clean, perfect and can pretty much draw anything that you put in front of him. He is truly one of the most talented artists I've met! The interesting thing about Andy is that he took a detour in his life that involved not making art for years (15+ years!). Instead he chose to put time into things that seemed to be more practical and made more sense at the time. Since walking away from his structural engineering position to be a stay at home dad, he has been on a non-stop journey back to his creative roots. It has been such an inspiration to witness Andy embracing his talent and falling back in love with art! In the weeks and months ahead we will be collaborating on a number of creative projects so I thought it would be fun to do a little interview with my hubby so that my readers could get to know him a little better.




TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I always loved art and drawing and I spent a great deal of my childhood inspired by comic books and cartoons. I would spend hours drawing different characters that were stuck in my head that I had to get out on paper. I fell in love with comic books at a young age and would draw Spiderman and Wolverine over and over again.  From the beginning I was able to replicate what I saw in a photo and translate it into a drawing.  Then as I got older the process of drawing what I saw became a creative challenge that I loved. I spent lots of time in art classes and by the time I reached and neared the end of high school I thought I wanted to go on to study art in college. While I received a number of art scholarships, I made a last minute decision to join the US Navy, Search and Rescue. This decision pretty much ended my art career and took me on a different path (a path that kept me out of trouble).  

Fortunately the Navy lead to college and eventually meeting my wife Alisa. I studied structural engineering in college and landed a really great engineering job at the University of California San Diego where I managed their earthquake testing laboratory. After 7 years at the university, I walked away from my position in May 2012 and have been a stay at home dad ever since! The last seven months at home with my wife and daughter has empowered me to reawaken my love of art, something I don't think I would have done without this big life change.  In the end, my heart has always told me that I'm an artist. 



WAS THERE EVER A POINT WHEN YOU WISHED YOU HAD GONE IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION WITH YOUR ART OR YOUR CAREER? 
Yes! Half way through my college career I thought I had made a mistake by choosing engineering as my major. I can vividly remember sitting out side the art department on a bench, on the phone with Alisa, asking her if she thought I should change my major. Of course she said yes, Alisa will always say yes to art! We talked about it, I crunched numbers and I researched how I could shift gears. After so much thought, I decided to stick with my goal of being a structural engineer. At that point I was already an older student, I had already worked so hard in school and I was determined to at least finish what I had started. I often think about that moment and wonder how different my life and our story would be if I had decided to change my major to art or design. But when all is said and done I am grateful for the the way that things have happened and even more grateful now to have art back in my life.




DURING YOUR TIME AS A STRUCTURAL ENGINEER DID YOU MAKE ART OR INFUSE CREATIVITY INTO YOUR LIFE?

I have always been a major doodler! Typically small pieces of my art were all over my school notes, meeting notes, white boards at work and pretty much anywhere I had a pen and paper.  All of my notebooks from college and my job have images, designs and drawings on them. Beyond my doodling and an occasional drawing for a friend, I didn't have the time or the inspiration to create. Having a management position in engineering  was a ton of pressure and was very busy, so by the end of the day I just wanted to relax.

Even though I didn't make a lot of art, I did find that many aspects of my engineering job were very creative and innovative.  Most of the time the engineering fulfilled that need to be challenged creatively, only in a much different way and with a very contrasting application. 



WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MATERIALS TO WORK WITH AND WHY?


I love to work with pencil and graphite. There is something about the simplicity of pencil to paper that has always appealed to me. I really enjoy the process of layering different variations of light and dark to bring my subject matter to life on a page.  I also enjoy the use of dimension in a drawing, for example- my brain knows the page is flat but if I can figure out a way to make the subject 'pop' out of the page, kind of like 3D, then I feel like I have successfully translated the depth to paper. This challenge makes me happy!






WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT MATTER?
I have always loved portrait and figure drawing. I am enamored with people and our diversity, so I am always visually soaking in gesture, movement, emotions, reactions, etc. through real life experiences, pictures, mass media, movies, etc. Then I finally see something that I want and need to translate to paper. Being able to translate the emotion of a photo into a sketch is my favorite thing. My eye is drawn to subject matter that has a lot of contrast and I want my art to exaggerate that contrast in order to amplify emotion.  Currently I am in the middle of working on a series of portraits of musicians. Music is a huge part of my life and blues and jazz was introduced to me at a young age by my father and uncles.  Fortunately for me, blues and jazz musicians provide some of the most amazing contrast and culturally diverse subject matter to draw!





HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DRAWING A PORTRAIT. WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
The first step is to find a really good picture and one that obviously captures emotion.  The challenge for me is to magnify that emotion through my drawing.  I then figure out what size paper will work best.  If I go smaller, will the emotion become confined and will that feeling compliment the image?  Or do I go big and expand the page, giving the image space to share it's emotion?  From there, I simply lay out a plan in my head and estimate the scale of the image compared to the paper.  I have forced my self not to be afraid of going off the page (any engineer would know how frustrating it is to not scale properly and run out of paper, so I am FORCING myself to steer away from this).

Next, I pick a starting point, typically the face and head, and quickly sketch the outline.  I then start working my way around the features, shading here and there. The shading process helps me slowly replicate the picture and almost mold with shadows. I will look at my drawing from a distance and compare it to the picture. This helps me check to see if it actually looks like the picture. From there, it is just working through an intuitive process until the drawing is complete.



WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF GOING WITH YOUR ART?
I am first and foremost on a personal quest to just make art as much as I can. I would like to continue to draw in a less constrained manner and loosen up my style. I am trying to move away from fixating on the details and getting stuck making it a perfect replica. I am a work in progress and I can't wait to see how my drawing grows and changes. But more than anything, I am so grateful to have found my way back to art!


When Andy is not chasing after our daughter Lucy or drawing you can find him surfing cold Oregon waves, playing guitar, working on his daily yoga practice and cooking gourmet meals for yours truly- he is one darn awesome husband!

58 comments:

  1. My style is more like Andy's and my daughter's style is more like yours . . . We find such mutual admiration for each other and the work each of us produces though, and I think that is so special. It sounds like you and Andy have that same deep admiration for each other.

    As far as how the journey of life goes, this is a fabulous story about how God is in every detail of our lives. Andy chose his major with his head and it served your family well, and now God has directed him back to the joy of his heart.

    This was wonderful to read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

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  2. livethegoldenrule2:35 AM

    Amazing talent! I strongly believe that things happen for a reason. You will now have an even greater appreciation for your wonderful art. Welcome back!! And thank you for sharing.

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  3. I am glad Andy is back to what he loved all his life. The three of you make a great family!AriadnefromGreece!

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  4. Nice rading this post.. Your creative family rocks ALisa

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  5. Popping in to see you and your family is like visiting a fairytale. It is all so bright and cheery and creative. Thank you for sharing that slice of your life with us. Your projects - and I include your family - are awesome!

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  6. Great interview. I really enjoyed this post; it inspired me... I must find the time to get back to drawing/ painting.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your wonderful and talented husband with us. Can't wait to see more.

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  8. Beautiful work! I am so jealous of people who can draw like that. Your daughter is very lucky to be growing up in such a creative household.

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  9. Can't wait to see what you two create together!! :))

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  10. What a catch you've got there! Can't wait to see more from you two! Hi, Andy!

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  11. it seems you are both utterly amazing! what a wonderful team you are!!!
    i am so excited for your andy to find his roots again and get back to his passion. it was brave of him to follow a different path for so long and then to take a jump back into what he loves!
    good luck, to you both...
    xo

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  12. Beautiful drawings and such a wonderful story! Can't wait to see the projects you make together!

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  13. I LOVED this post so much!! Always wanted to hear more about Andy and how you two share your art together. So happy for him following his heart to what looks like a TALENTED ARTIST to me. How awesome that you two can share your love for art together and looking forward to seeing more from Andy and your together projects!
    Thanks so much for sharing this personal story with us.

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  14. What a beautiful family you are and what exception parents you are being with Lucy. Both you and Andy are trying so hard to be authentic to who you were born to be... you are an inspiration and I so look forward to seeing where you both go with your wonderful talents.
    Thank you for sharing I really enjoyed reading about you Andy.

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  15. This is great info, thanks for sharing Andy with us, maybe someday he'll do an online class about drawing portraits ?

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  16. Impressive interview!!Thanks for sharing such an authentic part of your journey! Glad to see you following your bliss!! Wonderful man, lucky Lucy and you!! Your family is a beautiful example for those trying to follow their dreams!!

    Hugs Giggles

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  17. Thanks for sharing Andy's story and yours! I believe nothing is wasted. Every experience contributes to who we are and somehow all our life experiences are used by God in our lives. Who knows the timing...sometimes the delays and what we think are sidetracks are necessary parts of our journey. It is a joy to see your journey unfold. It is a joy to watch you grab life and live each moment awake and open! It is a joy to see you introduce the wonder of life to your precious Lucy!

    Grace and peace to you all!

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  18. Beautiful drawings! Go Andy!!! :)

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  19. wow! his art is so perfect. wow! i have no other word...

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  20. The first step is to find a really good picture AND one that is not copyrighted...lol Hugs!deb

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  21. very cool! i loved reading andy's story and being able to relate to ups and downs. i excited to see his presence on the blog more often! love the portraits too!

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  22. Nice to meet you, Andy!
    Would LOVE to see you do a picture of Alisa or Lucy!

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  23. Thanks for introducing us to Andy and his fabulous talent and what a great team you are together! I love the way you're both making your individual dreams happen while supporting each other. Beautiful!

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  24. blessings all around! andy's artwork is amazing. loved reading and seeing this..can't wait to see more in the future. you are an amazing family. :) xoxoxo

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  25. Very cool. Glad he found his way back home on so many levels. Very cool.

    Two talented artists in one household. Can't wait to see what medium your darling daughter chooses!

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  26. WOW..loved the interview. I did not know that Andy was an artist. You guys are going to turn out some amazing stuff...well look how you've already started with Lucy!!! I cannot wait to see where her path takes her..she's got amazing genes.

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  27. Thanks for sharing Andy's background. His drawings are amazing!

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  28. I am TOTALLY blown away. This post is fabulous! Thank you for sharing (AND BRAGGING ON!) your man. It's a breath of fresh air. The same air he seems to be inhaling these days.
    Kelley~

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  29. thanks for sharing what awesome talent. can't wait to see what the two of collaborate on, besides that adorable little girl.

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  30. Great talent!!

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  31. Welcome back Andy. Your drawings are just amazing. I look forward to seeing more of your art.

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  32. Lucy is so lucky !!! to have you both as parents

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  33. DITTO! Lucy is SO BLESSED to have BOTH of you able to be HOME with her! 3 cheers for you all!

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  34. Wonderful interview and great art! I look forward to seeing future collaborative art by you and Andy. All the best!

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  35. Nice article. I enjoyed reading it and found inspiration in Andy's story. Yes, he is an amazing artist. I can just imagine what a fabulous artist Lucy may become if she decides to take after her parents. : ) Looking forward to seeing the two of you collaborating on projects together. Best of luck to each of you.

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  36. Wow his work is incredible!

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  37. Awesome read today- You are both so creative and living your dream :) I hope I am around to see Lucy the artist! lol I gotta feeling she is gonna be amazing...

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  38. Anonymous6:40 AM

    What talent!!!! This is great news for the both of you.
    The boat with the anchor and other work he did was amazing to me and at that time I wondered why he was not a full time artist.
    Life brings us many changes.
    Can't wait to see the art you both achieve together.
    Barb
    NC

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  39. Anonymous9:54 AM

    My wife sent me this and asked that I read it. I was floored by the parallels to my own life! I liked art as a kid, went into the Navy, went to college and studied mechanical engineering. I stayed in the Navy for twenty years and even earned a masters degree in mechanical engineering. I studied drawing while at Purdue and allowed it to augment my need to teach. I continue to use it today. I have a longing to get back to my drawing. I, too, have doodles everywhere in my notebooks, on white boards, etc. I wrestle with the discipline of engineering and the freedom of art. Andy's story was inspiring. I hope you draw like nobody's looking! BTW, I play blues guitar and my wife's a yoga instructor. It's just ridiculous how many parallels I read! Thanks for this snapshot into your life. Respectfully, Randy

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  40. How Wonderful!!

    Does this mean possibly that we will see some new "Learn How To Draw" online classes...hmmm...hint, hint!!

    Can't wait to see what the two of you have planned.

    Have a great day!

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  41. So awesome and inspirational! I wish Andy many blessings on his art journey that he already ROCKS!!

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  42. Sounds like you hit the jackpot with Andy! Many blessings to your future.

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  43. What a wonderful time in your lives! Your sweet family look's very content and as if you both have found your niche, and a lovely balance! Thankyou for sharing!<3 Dawn

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  44. Oh WOW, you are meant for each other!!. LOVELY to see what you both may create next, and I bet Lucy is following these creative family traits soon enough :). So happy for your family!.

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  45. thank you for this great information
    http://goo.gl/pFQOf

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  46. Wow, this makes me so happy, Andy seems just as awesome as you!

    I also loved Randys comment above.. :)

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  47. awwwww! i had no idea your andy was an artist. he's really good too. best wishes to your family. :)

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  48. information is very nice and interesting,,
    thanks guy's

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  49. Anonymous6:28 PM

    A really wonderful post, Alisa! And What a perfect husband too, my goodness I'd love to have one of I could find a guy like Andy! My best to both of you as you continue to create and pursue your dreams!

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  50. I am fond of this new kind of posts. My husband and I printed the art of setting goals and stuck it on the fridge. Thank you for these nice advices about how dreams get true

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  51. I knew he had amazing talent from a former post of yours .. So glad he has this opportunity to stay at home and enjoy his family and become one again with his art.. He is brilliant, you must be so proud:)

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  52. Most people think of engineers as being dull, left-brainers, but once my hubby, a mechanical eng., was telling me that a fellow we knew was one of the most amazing engineers he'd ever met. When I asked him what trait was most critical in a great engineer, know what he said? IMAGINATION!

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  53. Thank you for this explanation of how Andy does is art. I have recently started teaching myself to draw and I LOVE trying to draw my daughter, especially her face. I get frustrated with myself often because I feel that a "true" artist should be able to draw from memory, but I never seem able to draw her face or any other from memory.

    Andy's work is beautiful and I am thankful that I now know even great artist draw from pictures!

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  54. I really enjoyed reading this post. I was someone who followed the other path that Andy wisely decided against. I am mother to a 10yr old super talented budding artist whom I know will have to make this choice one day. I hope that his father and I would've armed him with the right tools to choose wisely (whatever that choice may be). Reading about Andy as a young person reminds me so much of my son...his love of comics and drawing the characters, his technical proficiency at such a young age..I mean, he just gets it. Meanwhile, I at the age of 42 still struggles with my artistic identity. I walk the fine line between encouraging, but not forcing a direction on him.

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  55. Anonymous4:25 AM

    Wow! how do you survive making art? I so desperately want to paint and be creative....but am stuck in a boring job only because of the money...

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  56. Something missing here. Whose the bread winner? Our only obligations to each other is to make perfect sense. Where's the beef?

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