I was introduced to art through a neighbor, illustrator Mike Adams. From kindergarten through second grade, I would watch him paint children's book illustrations of characters from some of my favorite TV shows, like Fraggle Rock. He would give me large sketchbooks so I could draw on the floor while he worked. I remember how much I liked his lifestyle of working at home on illustrations and cartoons all day, especially in contrast to my father, who worked very hard at more typical 9-5 job.
Around the time I was in fourth grade, my family moved, and I began modeling for and studying under another neighbor, Sidney Quinn. He purchased supplies for me, introduced me to classes, and (harshly) critiqued my work for years on a regular basis. When I was about ten, I showed him my first large watercolor and counted as he pointed out 27 things wrong!
illustration that I modeled for in Highlights magazine
Freshman and sophomore years of high school, I began meeting with and receiving critiques from Edson Campos and Chas Rowe.
During my junior year, I was introduced to Barbara Bassett, who was a tremendous influence from that point forth. Her teaching method was derived from Kimon Nicolaides of the Art Students' League of New York and supplemented with the study of art history.
Although I went to her Winter Park studio for lessons a few times a week for years, she would never show me a single one of her paintings, despite my abundant requests. She was a great teacher, I miss her.
While in college at MICA, I studied under Timothy App and Raul Middlemen, who both proved to be major influences.