My Art Studio in North Carolina
I was born in the flat, fertile fields of Illinois. Crops grew in rows. Roads were gridded into perfect squares. Horizons were flat as a pancake, and our pancakes were never served with grits. But the beautiful thing about life is that you never really know where it will take you. Eventually, mine took me to the mountains of western North Carolina.
In 2021, Kim and I bought a property about 15 minutes outside of Boone and renovated a large building on the property to house my office, painting studio, gallery and a warehouse for storing and shipping art prints. For the first decade of my career, I’d worked out of small bonus rooms and spare bedrooms, honing my craft in whatever extra space I could lock the kids out of. My philosophy was that if I couldn’t paint well in a spare bedroom, I couldn’t paint much better in a luxurious studio with perfect light. It’s similar to Rocky’s gritty, blue collar training regimen…but without the hoodie, the one-armed pushups, and Mickey the trainer yelling at me to go faster…
Finally, I’ve got what I want, where I want it. From the floor to the ceiling, I viewed this space like a blank canvas and created a space that inspires me to do my best work. Each morning I walk past Dave Emken’s legendary whitetail taxidermy (a work of art in its own) and remember the hunts that produced them. I sit down and check email below a Growth & Maturity of the White-tailed Buck print, framed with barnwood from an old gray barn on the homeplace that I grew up on. I look out the window from my easel at a panorama of Blue Ridge Mountains, occasionally interrupted by Rhett playing basketball or Brooklyn running around in just a diaper. It’s home now. It’s where I experience the highs and lows of work and family, the wins and losses of entrepreneurship.
What I love most is the setting, the people, and the area that we live in. We fish and tube on the New River, just a quick car ride away. I can just about hear a distant gobble from my turkey hunting honey hole. At sunset, does and fawns file out in the edge of our property, silhouetted by a sunset vista of increasingly larger mountains. When I look at them, I see the effects of atmosphere and how it translates to art: the further away something is, the lighter in value and the cooler in temperature it becomes. Hence the “blue” in Blue Ridge Mountains.
Not only is it an incredible place to live, but also a wonderful place to visit. The area is filled with rustic second homes (all of which should have wildlife art hanging in them, by the way) and things to see and do. If you’re looking for some of our favorites, here’s a list below. And if you’re in the market for one of my original oil paintings, you can see them in person and purchase by appointment only. Please see our Contact page for additional information about scheduling an appointment.
My Favorite Places in North Carolina
I’ve worked with them in years past teaching wildlife drawing and raising funds through my art for new wildlife exhibits. This is a true gem of western Carolina with amazing hiking trails, a tall swinging bridge, and unique wildlife exhibits.
The New and Watauga Rivers
This area is well known for fly fishing and tubing along these clear, cool rivers. You can search around and find places to rent a tube, hire a guide or just venture out on your own.
Our summers are spent at the lake, swinging on rope swings into the deep blue water and enjoying the natural shoreline scenery of eastern Tennessee.
Great for young kids and a unique mountain railroad experience. Brooklyn’s favorite is feeding the animals.
App State Football
It’s worth watching a game at Kidd Brewer stadium. It’s an epic setting for a great football program and one of our favorite things to do with the kids each fall.
Downtown Blowing Rock
A great central park, shops, restaurants and art galleries. Blowing Rock Tavern and Mellow Mushroom are our personal favorites.