Recalls Mike, "I became interested in art in my mid-thirties and studied color and design with Aileen Worthley, who interested me in screen printing and introduced me to Guy Maccoy, who let me monitor his classes at the Los Angeles County Institute of Art."
Though Mike's print work was shown at galleries in Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, and published by Fidelity Arts in Los Angeles, he soon found he could not make a living in art. So he returned to his family trade: painting houses. "But I began to go slowly nuts," he says.
Fortunately, he discovered decorative painting, then trained extensively in it at the Day Studio Workshop in San Francisco. This led him to a more satisfying career painting murals, trompe L'oeil, wall treatments, metal leafing, as well as creating furniture and cabinet finishes, for private homes until age of 65.
"After that," says Mike, "I became involved with The Central Sierra Art Council and began to paint in oil. I studied with Jeanette Legrue, a truly great plein aire painter, and my work was shown at the George W. Post and Ventana Galleries in Sonora."
But in time, Mike gave up plein aire, instead taking inspiration for his paintings from photos taken during extensive travels with his wife Jen. Then, about a year ago, all that changed.
According to Mike, "I began to dislike my art work. The color was off, and the content was boring and pointless. I spent a lot of time staring at blank surfaces. I tried my hand at pastels, but it just didn't work for me. I switched to acrylics and found new things, like colors looking different when dry. I was considering giving up painting all together."
Then I saw Sharon Guy's show. She made an all-out effort and put her heart and soul into the work. I wanted to do something similar—make an all out effort of my own."
Mike adds that the key was to start painting from his head, not from the photographs from his trips. His goal: to create "paintings that are colorful, happy and joyous using imagery original and meaningful to me."
It looks like he has succeeded