I’ve rarely given much thought about the motivation driving me to place one foot in front of the other. I take it for granted as something I’m simply expected to do. Through my years of parenting, I did my best to be the father that I wanted to be, a good one. Looking back now, as I’m able to spend time with our three grown children, it’s apparent that we all survived our younger years quite well. Myself included. In addition to my role as a stay at home father during those influential years, I also balanced my adult life as a fulltime studio artist. My career was far from a nine to five routine, and I loved every moment of it. Finding the stability I needed to balance my role as a fulltime Dad with a business centering on creative self-expression, marketing, promotion, and forward thinking, taught me quite a bit about myself, most of which centered on commitment, ambition, and fervor. A number of years later as our children prepared for their own young adult lives and I approached fifty years of age, the idea of my returning to college became incredibly important to me. I was driven. Two years later at the age of 51, I received my Master’s Degree with honors from the VCU School of the Arts in December of 2010. Though I’ve never labeled it as such, it’s clear that my life’s path has been directed through personal innovation.
My blue-collar upbringing was honest, hardworking, and continues to be an inspiration in my day-to-day passion for life. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my father for many of those life lessons. He was far more scholarly than his partial high school education, and he taught me skills about treating people honestly and the importance of working hard towards creating something better, not for yourself, but mainly for others. My father’s unexpected death in 1993 was a giant hurdle, but I recovered. The day before he passed, the two of us spent several hours together over a long father and son conversation. It was simple, honest, and beyond life touching. His blue-collar way of life didn’t always understand my fine art world. He was however, very proud of the things I’d accomplished in my career, as a father, and as his son. He made it a point on that sunny afternoon to encourage me to do all of the things I wished to do in my life. I replied to him with a promise that I would. I continue to do so. The following morning, he passed away just as I arrived at the hospital. My father was a hard worker, a good man, a teacher, an inspiration, and an innovator.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve made it a point to continually evaluate my life’s focus. It’s a healthy place, always providing me that personal opportunity to think ahead and move forward. I believe in it. I’ve also discovered the truth in surrounding yourself with the right people. During the past decade I’ve been extremely fortunate to be involved with some of the most influential people I’ve ever known in my life, most of whom I’ve met through my circles in education. I have the greatest respect for these friends and colleagues, especially their commitment, dedication, and willingness to make such a positive impact on others. While I find it to be such common nature to do what I do, I continually find it humbling to receive warm accolades from those I consider principal influences in my own life. Their praise and inspiration never go unnoticed as they continue to inspire and propel me.
Innovation. My life has continually been directed by that very concept. As a parent, a fine artist, or middle aged adult returning to college, there have always been a few common threads running through each of those chapters in my life… forward thinking and reinvention of self. My rewards in return have been personal growth and knowledge. As I near the age my father was when we shared that long talk on that warm afternoon in 1993, I look back and realize that very little has changed since I was the young, curious, and spirited son of that blue-collared military man. I continue with my promise and my life path, always hoping to move in that direction ahead of me. Forward.