I suppose my fascination and appreciation for artists and art began when I was about six years old. My neighbor, Ron Thomas, was an artist, 11 years older than me. He painted several of the Looney Tunes characters on his basement block walls, and I was mesmerized. I don’t remember what I thought at the time, but I do remember feeling my heart jumping with delight. From then on I was, I guess, hooked on drawing.
I remember one summer, when I was in grade school, my family went to the Illinois State Fair. There was an airbrush artist there who painted cartoons on sweatshirts and t-shirts. While my family walked the fair and enjoyed the attractions, I spent the day standing next to him and admiring his talent. I grew up loving comics, especially Peanuts. Then MAD Magazine. I fantasized about what a cool job it would be to draw cartoons for them. In high school, my buddy and I used to steal his dad's Playboy magazines and I discovered Shel Silverstein. I loved his simple drawing style.
I was friends with an artist, Randy Harris, who hitch-hiked around the world in the 60’s. He’s one of the best artists I’ve ever known. We’re still friends and he’s always been encouraging. Because of Randy’s influence on me, when I was 16 I hitch-hiked from Indiana to California during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. When I graduated high school in 1970, I did the whole thing again, and spent most of that year hitch-hiking around the country. To this day, it’s one of my favorite memories. I tell you that, not just because it was great fun, but because after I came home, a mutual friend of mine and Randy’s, Bobby Glassford, who was an artist living in Chicago, got in touch with me and said, “Get your ass up here and get in school.” So, I moved to Chicago, shared a studio apartment with Bobby, and enrolled in The American Academy of Art and took drawing classes. I also worked part time as an apprentice artist at an advertising studio in Chicago’s Old Town district.
That was fun, but didn’t last long because they went bankrupt shortly after I started working there. I’ve had two great art teachers, Marion Kellum in high school, and Dave Klamen at Indiana University. Mr. Kellum was very encouraging and offered great instruction in several mediums. Dave Klamen was fantastic. He was my drawing teacher and I learned so much from him that I felt that maybe I could be an artist. But, God had other plans, and for some reason, I felt a calling into social work and away from art. So I had a 31 year career as a counselor at a home for adjudicated boys and then became a crisis counselor at a community health and rehab hospital. When I retired in 2017, I took up drawing again, and here we are.
I’m 70 years old, very happily married to my dream girl, Jeanne, and my greatest happiness comes from being with her. I can truly say that everything I love begins and ends with her. She’s my greatest supporter and best critic. We have two grown children (my step kids) five grandkids, and two great grandsons. To say the least, our lives are abundant and joyful. I’m very lazy, and the less I have to do the better. If I can spend time with my family, sit in my recliner and doodle, and eat chocolate ice cream, my life is full.
This endeavor, Sketch’s One Liners, is coming to fruition, solely because of the encouragement of my good friend of nearly 40 years, Noel Paul Stookey. He’s been my co-creator, collaborator, and inspirational buoy. Without his guidance and creative genius, I’d probably just be drawing stick figures on restaurant napkins.