(Artist's photo taken April 2014). I have enjoyed art as a hobby for most of my life, taking after both my father and his father. I started out drawing my own comics in grade and high school. In 1991, I became extremely fascinated by eagles. I developed a deep connection to this awe-inspiring bird, began to save every eagle picture I could find, and drew eagles all the time. (1991 must have been the "year of the eagle", because there seemed to be eagle pictures everywhere, from cigarette ads to billboards). I did well in my studio art courses in my junior and senior years at St. Francis High School, where I earned letters for my artwork and was ultimately inducted into PAVAS (the Performing and Visual Arts Society). Directly after high school, I began taking private lessons in oil painting from locally renowned oil painter Maryann Doering every Thursday morning. I jumped right into painting birds, and from 1993-1996, painted mostly eagles, parrots, some local songbirds, and aquatic birds. From the years of 1996-2001, I volunteered at Foxwood Wildlife Rescue, a local wildlife rehabilitation group, who specializes in foxes. I became good friends with the founder, Elise Able, who reopened a childhood fascination I had with foxes, and taught me a great deal about them. In being allowed to work so closely with them, I took many photographs, and from 1996-2001, foxes were a favorite subject of mine to paint. My interests weren't limited to birds and foxes, however, and I also painted other subjects, although mostly animals.
I took a 2 year hiatus from painting beginning in late 2001, because I didn't feel I was getting any better, and I also began to really get sidetracked with other interests. However, after going through much personal tragedy between 2001 and 2002, I looked on 2003 as the beginning of a new chapter of my life, a chance to truly appreciate all that I have, and experienced a newfound spiritual awakening. I also realized that I missed those Thursday mornings painting, and that it wasn't too late to start again. So, I returned in 2003, and actually started doing some of the best work I've done so far! I decided I want to specialize in birds of prey as a subject, so with a few exceptions, my most recent paintings have been birds of prey. I do most of my paintings from my own photographs (I use some of my father's photographs for sources, too), and have travelled to places such as African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora, NY, and the Skyhunter's Birds of Prey exhibit at the Erie County Fair to take my photographs. In 2005, I finally began to paint at home again for the first time in years, and I continue to paint at home when I can find the time. In addition to birds of prey, I also paint other wildlife, mainly foxes and wolves.
When I'm not painting or working at my paying job, I like to spend time with my animals, and I also enjoy reading books on metaphysical studies. I currently have a growing metaphysical library, featuring the works of many of the pioneers of New Thought. I am self-taught in much New Thought philosophy, and take a particular liking to the Science of Mind Philosophy, as taught by Ernest Holmes, as well as Divine Science. I am a member of the Divine Science Federation International (http://www.divinesciencefederation.org/)
As of 2016, I went on hiatus from painting, due to a number of reasons, both personal and work related. Whether I return to painting again remains to be seen.
www.a-portrait-place.com - Link to my father's website. He specializes in portraits in oil, charcoal, and pastel. He also does photography, and has created some very unique fairy pictures.
www.centennialartcenter.org - The official website of the Hamburg Centennial Art Society, complete with links to the member artists websites (including mine and my father's!) Be sure to check it out!
I wouldn't have reached the point I have without the help of certain people in my life. Therefore, I would like to thank my parents and family for their support, Maryann Kammer (formerly Doering), my oil painting teacher and mentor since 1993, who has really helped me to grow as an artist, the Thursday morning oil painting group for your encouragement, and Elise Able (www.foxwoodrehab.typepad.com) for letting me work so closely with all of her animals and teaching me a great deal about foxes. Also special thanks to Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora, NY (www.hawkcreek.org) for all that they do to help injured birds of prey and other animals, and for allowing the general public the chance to see these magnificent birds up close, helping to ensure these beautiful creatures are around for generations to come! I highly recommend anyone in the area to attend their annual Wildlife and Renaissance Festival, held every year in July, as well as their other events that are open to the public.
And a very special thanks to woxys at deviantART for generously allowing me to use her photos as references for my wolf paintings! She is a very talented amateur zoo photographer, and has taken many outstanding photos over the years. Be sure to check out her deviantART page: http://www.woxys.deviantart.com