MY ARTISTIC 'WHY'
My first memory of being drawn to Art was at a very young age, maybe 6-7 years old? I was sitting next to my mom at our kitchen table, in Sandusky, Ohio, and watching her draw. She was drawing these female faces with 'big eyes' using a pencil. I was so intrigued and would soon start drawing along with her, copying her work. Soon after, I found myself always wanting to draw, so I started creating my own Super Heroes and Sports icons that I admired. I was an only child and we were very poor. My parents had a rocky relationship and were separated at various times of my childhood. My mom was working 2 jobs and I would have to stay for extended periods of time at my Grandma Wallace’s house by myself. So, I would just draw to pass the time.
My mother’s sister, Aunt Willie, worked at the American Crayon Company and would give me boxes of crayons for birthday presents and at Christmas time – I loved all of the colors! I would do dozens of crayon drawings a week and at one point I filled up a large box of my artwork (which, unfortunately, is now lost to me.. I wish I had those to look back on!).
Then, in 1977, the most famous movie ever to be made, Star Wars, came out -- I watched the movie with amazement and knew that someday I wanted to make movies and somehow be involved as an artist. It truly was a life changing experience that would lead me to where I am today.
In 3rd grade, I entered an art contest at a local Hills Dept store and to my great surprise, I won 1st place! It was a $50.00 in-store credit prize (which I used to buy Star Wars toys!) – this blew my mind to know that I could win awards and prizes through my artwork!
During high school, I excelled in Art class – and I had a great mentor in my Art Teacher, John Eschels, who taught me the fundamentals I was missing and challenged me to be my best. He also introduced me to Art History, which opened up my mind as I learned about the master’s that came before me as well as Contemporary Artists that became inspirational to me such as Chuck Close and Bernie Fuchs. I also had a love of computers. My parents bought me a Commodore 64 home computer and it was the greatest gift of my life, at that time. I used it to play games as well writing code/computer programming. It was during my Senior year, that Mr Eschels would show our class a video that blew my mind – it was showing chrome computer generated dinosaurs walking around an environment. The work was being done by Pacific Data Images (PDI), who I would one day in the future be working for! It was amazing and got me thinking about how I could combine my love of fine art and computers as a career but at that time, there weren’t any undergraduate programs offering this as a major.
I was offered a scholarship for Art (Art Inst. Of Pitt) but declined it because I wanted to go to a University to play college baseball and also decided to enroll in Computer Programming at the University of Toledo. Unfortunately, about a week before school started, I received a call from the Tuitions office that my financial aid was delayed and that that I’d have to pay for school up front, then be reimbursed later. Well, I didn’t have the money, so I had to drop out. I was crushed over this. I ended up moving back to my dad’s house and had to enroll in Computer Programming at a local Community College (Terra Community College). At this point of my life, I only thought of art as a hobby and couldn’t visualize a lucrative career doing this. After one semester, however, I yearned to be creating art and I switched my major to Graphic Design, which would allow me to be creative in the arts once again. This turned out to be a great decision and 2 years later I graduated with honors and won the two most prestigious awards at the graduation exhibition.
In 1990, Bowling Green State University started a new major called Computer Art -- this was amazing as it would allow me to combine both of my passions -- and it was the career path towards getting me into a role that could one day lead me to Hollywood and making films! (Star Wars!) I also decided to dual major in Fine Art to round out my skillset. At this time a quote by Pablo Picasso stuck in my head, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” I was excited that I found an answer to Picasso’s thought.
Since graduating in 1992, I've now been in the entertainment industry for 26 years creating tv commercials, ads, video games and feature films. I’ve won 2 broadcast Emmy Awards and was part of an Academy Award winning movie, Shrek. It's been a wonderful career and far from the ‘starving artist’ cliché. I’ve truly been blessed to work alongside such world-class talent.
One of my personal highlights in my ‘fine art career’ happened in 2005. I received a call from someone claiming to be working on movie and that he wanted to use a piece of my art that he saw online. Of course, you can understand my skepticism, but I agreed to meet him for coffee (in Los Angeles). He told me about the film, which was called ‘Relative Strangers’ and which piece that he wanted to use and then said that he’d set up a time for the Director (Greg Glienna from ‘Meet the Parents’) to come to my studio, to see the work for himself. The meeting took place about two days later and sure enough, up pulled several cars and a bunch of Hollywood folks poured into my studio. I introduced myself to him and then showed him the painting. He took about 10 seconds and turned to his Production Designer and said “Let’s do it” then thanked me and out the door everyone went. They said that they’d call me later to go over terms of the usage. The Production Designer called me, and we worked out a deal and they ended up commissioning me to use 7 of my paintings. I also negotiated to be cast in the movie, playing the part of myself, the artist! A few weeks later, I was called to be on set, at the Pasadena Museum of Art. The crew had transformed a space in the museum to look like an art gallery and my work was the featured art! I was told to stand to the left of my artwork and I would be talking to an ‘extra.’ Actors Danny Devito, Kathy Bates and Neve Campbell would be to my right. They would be discussing my artwork in the scene and how this particular piece reminded them of their son and his anger issues. It was a huge honor and I got to meet the actors and chat with them in between takes. Unfortunately, when the movie came out, those scenes didn’t make the final cut. I was definitely disappointed but what wonderful memories (and story) that I’ll have the rest of my life.
Recently, I’ve been focusing on landscape painting – working ‘en plein air’ and in my studio. Living in the Pacific Northwest has had a profound effect on me. The beauty of this place led me outside to try and capture the landscape and its ever- changing light and beauty through my paintings (both traditional media and digital art). Prior to 2011, I had never done a single landscape piece of art. Now I’ve dedicated the past 7 years almost exclusively to the landscape, primarily focused on the subject matter of the Pacific Northwest throughout the seasons. In 2014, I was featured in an interview/article in Plein Air Magazine that focused on my digital landscape paintings (bucket list item!).
While I enjoy my day job, and working in the entertainment industry to utilize my art skill set, my passion lies in expressing myself in my own pieces of art. I know that, in time, this is something that I will look forward to doing on a full-time basis. I am excited that, recently, I have (for the first time) made my artwork available for purchase – both Original works of Art and Limited Edition prints. I will also be available for Commissions, so reach out to me if you have something that I can create for you!
Chad W Greene