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Art and P. E. were my favorite subjects in school. I always dedicated more time and effort to them than any of my other subjects because they made me feel so alive! I didn’t think I could make a living at either art or soccer, so I followed in my family's footsteps and joined the corporate ranks by entering the management training program at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta. For awhile I tried to make it work, but felt like something was missing. I knew this wasn’t the right path for me, but didn't know what to do. That’s when an interior designer girlfriend introduced me to the world of decorative painting. I fell in love with it instantly. I was amazed by the effects that you could create with paint and I started doing it just for fun.
Forward some months later and after experimenting on my apartment walls and those of friends and family, the designer started to ask me to do some work for some of her clients. I realized this was my chance to work for myself and do what I loved to do! I bought a ladder and some business cards and launched a decorative painting career where I enjoyed enriching client’s homes for the next 15 + years. I got so much satisfaction from turning something plain or even ugly into something wonderful that also made my customers feel good about their homes and in turn themselves. Those years also helped me develop my sense of color, balance and scale essential to producing visually pleasing effects on walls, floors, ceilings and other architectural elements.
More than decade ago I felt the urge to do something different in my creative life. On a gallery tour of Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico some of the materials and effects used in the contemporary art I saw reminded me of what I’d been doing on people’s walls. Instead of painting the background on walls for art and furnishings like I’d been doing, I wanted to make the art. Just like the decorative painting, I worked at developing my own style based on my decorative painting background. My inspiration has always come from wanting to share my passion for the beauty of the natural world.
My style of art is clean and spare. I want to convey a distilled version of the subject that evokes feelings and emotions of familiar places and favorite memories. Incorporating plaster, metals, acid oxidized paints and various other materials, I create richly textured art with a luminous quality always trying to capture in fragments and glimpses the ever changing quality of light.
I enjoy hiking, soccer, fly fishing, watching cats be cats, music, cooking and eating good food. My wife, business and life partner, artist Michele Scrivner, is my best friend, my toughest critic and my biggest supporter. We enjoy beautiful places, looking at art and bouncing ideas off of each other inspired by nature and other artists.
I can't remember a time when I didn't love to create, from my earliest childhood memories to my first profession as a young special education teacher. I shared this joy of making things with my hands with my students. I taught the kids to make crafts and sell them at local holiday shows, which are big events in small town rural Wisconsin. It was enjoyed by all: the town’s people, the students and, probably most of all, myself. It proved to me that you can do what you love and make a living doing it.
After a couple of years of teaching, I moved to Denver in the early 90s. Instead of getting “a real job,” I decided to follow my passion. To my surprise, I was able to sell my painted baskets at craft shows and still have the time and flexibility to travel the west and soak up my new surroundings. The western landscape was new, exciting and inspirational to me.
A couple of years later, a serendipitous opportunity to open a retail store in a desirable Denver neighborhood fell at my feet. I started a high-end decorative painting shop that specialized in decorative supplies, services and classes. Over the next ten years, I worked with many homeowners and interior designers, developing new wall finishes and techniques to beautify their homes.
In 2006 I sold the business and moved out of the city to a small mountain community with my husband Brian Billow. During a trip to Santa Fe, we were drawn to the powerful contemporary art pieces and their emphasis on color and texture. "I could do that," I thought. I had spent the last decade honing my skills learning to create beautiful color combinations and layers of texture. I transferred these skills from working on walls to working on canvas. To my absolute amazement, I was invited to be represented by the first gallery we approached in Aspen. To top it off, I sold my first piece that night-- I was hooked!
I look back fondly at my humble beginnings. One thing hasn’t changed, and that is my desire to create. I have changed mediums several times, but the thrill of making something new is as strong as ever. While Brian and I have our own unique style and body of work, we value each other’s opinions and talk endlessly about ideas. We also collaborate on pieces together, often resulting in our best work.