The spark of inspiration doesn’t occur during the brainstorming stage or the moment before paint meets canvas. It happens perpetually and starts early in life. Once we begin to perceive the world through sights and sounds, our memories start to form and each one has an influence on us, especially artists.

This page is a small collection of the various things that have pushed me into this project. Movies, books, characters, historical figures – the way I view life and how I make my artwork are each shaped by them. Enjoy a glimpse into how I got here and why I do what I do… 

TV

  • Star Trek
  • West Wing
  • David the Gnome
  • Beakman’s World
  • Gumby
  • Adventures of Superman
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple
  • Modern Marvels

Movies

  • Jurassic Park
  • Back to the Future 1-3
  • The Patriot
  • What Dreams May Come
  • Field of Dreams
  • Wizard of Oz
  • Rainbow Brite & The Starstealers
  • It’s a Wonderful Life

Books

  • Undaunted Courage
  • Sophie’s World
  • The Tycoons
  • Bully Pulpit
  • The Great Bridge
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica
  • Charlie Brown
  • Grapes of Wrath

Toys

  • Lincoln Logs
  • Lionel Train Set
  • Car models
  • Jigsaw Puzzles
  • Legos
  • Lite Brite
  • Erector Set
  • Wooden blocks

People/Characters

You’ll notice a running theme with the following list. None of the people were known for being really “hip” or cool. They had a reputation for being positive role models usually for how they treated others. These people were nice, smart, funny, and the types of characters I wanted to be around. I’m impressed whenever I meet someone today that reminds me of one of these guys.

You’ll also notice that everyone on this list is male. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by strong, smart women my entire life. However, I tended to be inspired by male characters who bucked the “manly” standard of machismo or power, and there’s also the sad fact that women were/are underrepresented in media along with many other groups.

Bill Cosby

Heathcliff Huxtable

The all-american dad. He’s smart, funny, and a role model for all of us. I still do the Cosby dance to this day.

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers

The best neighbor in the world. This gentle man made you feel comfortable in your own skin.

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

He played a cheery starship engineer who loved science and hosted a reading show with so much positive energy. LeVar Burton can do no wrong.

Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog

How can you not love Kermie? He’s a nice, nervous little guy, but he’s still able to bring the crazy Muppets together.

Places

It’s true that Autumn is directly modeled after a couple of locations in Virginia, but it also pulls certain traits from other places. I’ve lived in quite a few different cities, each with their own strengths and faults.

Autumn is intended to be the city I would want to live in, so take a look at what I love about these places and see if you agree. How many of them have you visited?

Blue Ridge Mountains

Virginia

Scenic views and small towns

Virginia

Located in one of the most scenic regions of the US, the state of Virginia includes two of my favorite cities. Charlottesville has the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s planned college built in the architectural style named after him. Staunton, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has both a fascinating history and an absolutely beautiful downtown area.
Fenway Park

Boston, Ma

History, history, history!

Boston, Ma

My family grew up in the surrounding rural area outside of Boston so, when I visited, I was able to enjoy both the natural wooded environment along with the full-on city experience. The extensive Freedom Trail gave me an early, up close and personal, history lesson, and the Elizabeth Stuart Gardner Museum is one of the finest museums I’ve ever seen, with lush gardens included in the multi-level space. Oh, and it has my favorite painting (El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent) as well!
the Alamo

Texas

My beloved home state

Texas

When you grow up in Texas, you’re instilled with strong pride for the state. Born and raised in Houston, I learned early on the importance of diversity and my love for Mexican culture, especially the food. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and I tend to agree. I still remember the awe inspiring moment I walked into the Astrodome for the first time and had my sense of space completely transformed. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s still hard for me to imagine how that behemoth was built by man.
the Capitol

Washington, DC

Our nation's capital

Washington, DC

It took me a while to make it to Washington DC, but it didn’t take very long to fall in love with it. It gets so much right. From the classical architecture that appears throughout the city to the free Smithsonian museums that provide endless knowledge, it’s hard not to love something about it. I’m fascinated with learning about how the layout for the city was developed in the context of our nation’s history. As long as you can avoid the traffic, DC gives and gives.
Philadelphia downtown

Philadelphia, Pa

City of brotherly love

Philadelphia, Pa

My home for a short two years, Philadelphia is a big city with a small town feel. The historical significance is on par with Boston, so I took the opportunity to learn about the city’s past. It was the first time I lived in an old place with walkable sites and real seasons. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the City Hall left their mark with me. Both are classic examples of what you can do with architecture and art.
Paris church

Paris

City of light

Paris

I’ve never had a desire to visit Paris, although that’s been changing as of late. For centuries, Paris has inspired progress in the development of the modern city with the introduction of things like street lighting, wide avenues and boulevards, parks, and architectural marvels. It also happens to be the center for culture – art, literature, and fashion. This is my go to standard for how to model a utopian city.
DIsneyland castle

Disney World

Happiest place on Earth

Disney World

We all grew up with Mickey and Donald Duck, but Disney World is more than rides and costumed characters. Walt Disney developed this immense resort from nothing. His detailed vision guided others around him to build a place where people could come and enjoy themselves with their families. It may be built on dreams and a false sense of reality, but it still gives us all a sense of hope.

Computer Games

game shot of SimCity

Sim City 3000

I spent way too many hours playing this game.  This was a big step up from my very early years of building cities out of blocks and legos. Sim City taught players how to build a city from the ground up and worry about ordinances, citizen happiness, and road layout.

game shot of Theme Hospital

Theme Hospital

This game was a lot like Roller Coaster Tycoon, but instead of running a fun amusement park, the purpose was to build an efficient hospital. It was surprisingly addictive. My favorite part was organizing furniture and room layouts. Oh, and watching people get sick on the floor. Probably good I didn’t become a doctor.

game shot of Splash

Splash!

This one started it all. This was way before I started using Photoshop, but it was essentially the same thing – a color image editing program. I got sucked into making and altering art with Splash and even printed out stacks and stacks of my creations.

game shot of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Who didn’t play this game? They made different versions and even turned it into a fun tv game show! If you want to teach young kids about history, geography, or different cultures, just add a secret spy to the mix. I finished my work at school as fast as I could just so I could get in a few minutes of this game.

Artists

  • John Singer Sargent
  • Jean Leon Gerome
  • Louis Alma Tadema
  • Gustav Dore
  • Albert Bierstadt
  • Frederic Church
  • JM Waterhouse
  • William Bouguereau
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Thomas Moran
  • Alphonse Mucha
  • J.C. Leyendecker

Music

Artwork

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  • Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan

    by Ilya Repin

  • The Lady of Shalott

    by John William Waterhouse

  • Boy in Dining Car

    by Normal Rockwell

  • Sculptors in Ancient Rome

    by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

    by Thomas Moran

  • Don Quixote

    by Gustave Doré

  • Apocalypse

    by John Martin

  • Nymphs and Satyrs

    by William Bouguereau

  • Prayer in Cairo

    by Jean-Léon Gérôme

  • Storm in the Rocky Mountains

    by Albert Bierstadt

  • Cotopaxi

    by Frederic Church

  • The Foundry

    by Adolf von Menzel

  • New York Movie

    by Edward Hopper

  • El Jaleo

    by John Singer Sargent