My Love of Creating Art Comes Down to One Thing: The Process

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel compelled to create art. Obviously, when I was two years old, I wasn’t creating masterpieces, but I was still picking up pencils and crayons and drawing anything and everything. Hopefully I did that on paper and not on my parents’ walls! Still today, I love to work with my hands and to feel the blow torch or the flamethrower in my fingers as I use it to create portraits that bring so much happiness to the people who see them.

What exactly inspires me to create art? That’s hard to pinpoint in a specific way, as the answer has shifted since I was younger, and it probably will again. For most of my life, I would have said that I was inspired by an impulse to create. It was such an integral part of who I was that I was uneasy when I wasn’t making art. It served as a coping mechanism, I suppose, because I found inner peace when I made art. It was a tool that I used to feel my best. We all have something like this, I think. Musicians need to make music. Athletes need to play their sports. Debaters need to debate. I needed to make art, and I still do.

Even as a young kid, I was especially interested in portraits. For some reason, they drew me to them. I spent a lot of time studying the drawings of Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vincci, looking for insight into how to bring a person to life in a portrait. They were masters at what they did, and I analyzed every line they drew, learning from their incredible creations. UItimately, I think that I wanted to solve that puzzle of piecing a face together and putting into a portrait the traits and qualities that make someone uniquely who they are. 

In recent years, what inspires me has shifted. Yes, I still find peace and happiness in the creative process. I don’t see that ever changing, honestly. However, that process has also become more social. It’s not just about putting someone’s features into the portrait; instead, it has become more about the interaction between me and the model, so much so that I now enjoy the process more, perhaps, than I do the final result.

I am inspired to create portraits, I think, because I want to bring back a lost art. When people think of portraits, they usually think of one of two things: either those that took months to make back in the 1800s or today’s artists who paint portraits from photographs. Neither approach works for me or for a lot of people, I believe. None of us have the time or patience to sit for a portrait that will take so long to make. I get that. However, is creating a portrait based on a photograph really the best alternative? I would argue that it isn’t.

My portraits can be created in three or four hours, and they are done from life. What I give my models, then, is an experience. Very few people have done anything like this before. They only know of portraits from seeing them in movies or museums, basically. With my fire portraits, I can create unique experiences for people. I absolutely love watching them light up as they see themselves immortalized in the wood. 

Being able to consistently share that feeling and make people’s days, hearing that it’s the coolest experience they’ve ever had in their lives - that’s a big inspiration for me. I know that in the end, my portrait will hang on someone’s wall, and that’s great. The biggest value of it, though, is the experience. When the person looks at their portrait, they will be reminded of what it felt like to be seen so deeply, and that, I believe, is an amazing gift to be given.

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