“I had a troubled and tumultuous childhood,” he said. “To escape it, I would watch Warner Bros.’ cartoon like Pepe Le Pew, Elmer Fudd and Sylvester the Cat,” George said. “I was more drawn to the environments the characters lived in and I would fantasize I was living in that environment instead of where I really was.”
At 18, he left Virginia for Portland, wanting to get as far away as he could have a fresh start. With less than $1,000 in his pocket, he began working as a waiter. It wasn’t until he was 30 that he had an interest in art, first making collages, then venturing into photography and finally painting.
Describing himself as a self-taught artist, George, 51, said his style is inspired by mid-century animation. “It’s a complete mystery to me why I started painting,” he said. “Before my 30s, I had little exposure to art. I was searching for something.”
Whatever he made waiting tables, he said, went to purchasing art supplies. Although he had a serious following for his photography, he made the decision to pursue painting. “My photography was dictated by reality. My painting was by my imagination,” he said. “I felt like I was translating the images from my imagination onto a canvas.”
Now he paints full-time. During his art showings, he tries to be anonymous. “I have heard people say my art reminds them of this or looks like that or my style looks like a certain artist,” he said. “Often time when my art is compared to an artist, I have to go home and look it up. I am learning about art by doing.”
He and his wife, Stacy, have been married two years. “Before that, I didn’t have the responsibilities,” he said. “I was single without a car payment and free to indulge in what I wanted to pursue.”
Understanding how life can take twists and turns, he knows how quickly a person’s passion can be extinguished. “I believe there is creativity and brilliance in every person but too often life’s journey can beat it out of you,” George said. “I feel fortunate to get to do what I do. I believe it is pretty rare for a person to get up in the morning and do what they want to do rather than what they need to do to provide for others.”
What George says where his inspiration comes from “beamed to me from someplace else…. My artwork is snapshots of the world I escaped to when I was a child,” he said. “It reflects those few minutes when I l left where I was and went someplace happier. I hope when people look at my work, it takes them someplace and elicits a memory.”