The WM Creative Art Story
Hello, I'm William Mathis and thank you for coming to my website. If you're one of my cherished collectors I'm always honored that you've chosen to decorate your home or workspace with my creations. If this is your first visit or one of a limited numbers of explorations you've decided to make, I would love to know more about your interests and how you made your way here. So please consider dropping me a quick contact note HERE.
What about me? Where did this creative story start? Who gives / gave me inspiration? What inspires me? It's quite a story and I'd love to share it with you.....
my early background
I have no idea when it all started, but the records show that I drew my first breath from the Universe at Riverview Hospital, Red Bank, New Jersey in September 1954. I was the second of three kids in a pretty typical middle class family of modest means. My older sister by eight years took a huge interest in her new little brother - she would have a profound impact on this story in later years.
My brother came along three years later - right about the time I started to have memories. It was also my first recollection of anything artistic - Mom singing along with Frank Sinatra tunes on the radio. I can still see it and almost hear it.
My first exposure and inspiration in the visual arts came after Mom and Dad had scraped enough money together to buy their first home in Shark River Hills neighborhood of Neptune Township on the Jersey Shore. Dad commuted daily to the city - left very early and got home just in time to sit down for dinner. One Christmas Mom surprised him with an oil painting set so that he would have a creative outlet. He took right to it and when I was six I watched as he recreated our decorated Christmas tree just as it looked and would always look like we decorated it. I was fascinated by the painting and how it could preserve an inspiration he had.
You'll find that the inspirations for much of what I create are based on the infiniteness of our universe both vast and minuscule. I've been fascinated by space since the first Mercury launch and when John Glenn was orbiting Earth I procured our empty garbage can, a tarp, placed them and myself inside my "capsule" to "be an astronaut". Mom was let's say - bemused! After my "voyage" was over I was quickly shown the bath tub!
..... at First it was the left side of the brain
Our family began a journey to return to Dad's place of birth, Scottsdale, AZ, when I was 13. Our journey arrived in Scottsdale in 1971 after brief stops in Kernville, Lake Isabella and Ridgecrest, CA. Dad painted scenes from two of the three locales (hint the two in the Sierra Nevada mountain towns - not so much Ridgecrest). When I finished high school I began engineering studies at Arizona State University. All engineering students must take a certain quota of humanities courses and one that I particularly immersed myself in and thoroughly enjoyed was Art History. The hook was set.
After my MS in mechanical engineering I worked for a local jet engine manufacturer. Some of the projects I supported took me to Los Angeles and the great art museums there. I went on to study for my MBA and into the world of management consulting. I traveled frequently all over the country, then the continent and eventually the world. I moved to Australia in the late 80s and didn't return to the US until 12 years had passed. Obviously there were ample opportunities to appreciate all kinds of art and cultures. We returned to Seattle in the height of the dot com boom, and found our way to northern Virginia following the dot com bust.
....and Eventually the other side of the brain Said "maybe i can too!"
The consulting business evolved into the creation and business of art. At first I was managing a team supporting the Federal government. I was also in a city and a region with some of the most amazing exhibits and galleries of art in the World. It was also a time when networking for business also led to exposure to many embassies and exhibits not readily visible to the public. I have vivid visions of some amazing nationally significant art from many countries on display in their embassies. I recall being mesmerized by a very large painting of towering mountains hanging in the Embassy of Uzbekistan.
I learned that this environment can be rewarding while at the same time pretty stressful and wrought with uncertainty. Budgets come and go; programs come and go; people come and go; and elections come and go. A combination of a few of these saw my "corporate" consulting activity morph into my own business. The ability to retire or semi-retire was approaching, and while I still do and enjoy the technical side of "what I do"; I found the doorway to creative expression through the inspiration of artists I've known, whom I follow, and the encouragement of a great friend (see below).
Artists and Inspirations
My Dad, John Mathis, was my first exposure to visual art when I was a small child and a life long inspiration. He was amateur always, and created his works simply because he loved using his God-given ability. He painted for nearly thirty years - all in oils. He was a skilled wood worker, and wood artist. After we moved back to Scottsdale he was in the right environment to source some of the unusual iron wood roots and burls from downed specimens. He created the sailboat sculpture from a piece of iron wood root and I remember being amazed how he saw the potential to create what he did given what I saw in the original shape. In his later years he continued with wood projects including an adventure into creating musical instruments. So yes - Dad inspired me in many ways.
My "big Sis", Diane, began creating her own art in the mid 70s. While she was over 8 years older than me and married at a young age, we finally grew together at that time when she spent some time back in our home in Scottsdale. Diane worked in both representative and abstract art. The work here is a favorite of mine and a cherished possession named "Tree of Wisdom". I also keep an extremely realistic pastel drawing of a grey squirrel. She also was a pretty good guitar artist. I look at both every morning and night and find the oak especially inspiring for my work in encaustic and watercolor painting as well as subject matter for still photography. I wish I had more of Di-Di's art to admire, but I don't for a couple of reasons: first she left our world far too early at age 48; and second because most of the rest of it went with her husband.
The first professional artist I ever knew, and a huge inspiration for my art, was Dick Phillips. He left a full time job in the mid 70s to pursue his passion and at the same time continue to provide for his wife and two girls. One of whom became my wife, and that enabled Dick and I to form a strong friendship. When I first met him his art was very intricate pen and ink drawings of various southwestern scenes. Over time his work evolved into representative watercolors, to abstract watercolors, to abstract acrylic pours like the piece shown here. He is an inspiration in many ways - not least of which is proof that creativity can embrace many forms and evolve with time.
new and Expanding group of inspirations
I follow artists and try to meet as many as I can either in person or virtually. I've discovered genres and variations in techniques and color palettes that I experiment with in search of my own styles, methods, and creations. This is an ongoing passion of mine. I hope you'll see this reflected in both the range of ways I express my art as well as how it has and will continue to evolve with time and what I learn. In the future I am planning to expand the scale of my work in both size and color dynamics. Two artists (among too many to name here) inspiring this evolution include: swarez.co.uk and johnbeckley.com.
A universe of inspiration
"But WHAT inspires you"?"........
Put simply - the Universe of what we can see, that which is too far and too vast to see, and things that are too small or uncertain to see. A colleague circulated a slide show around the 2004 timeframe which featured images taken by the most sensitive scanning electron microscopes and even more sensitive methods, to the growing library of Hubble space telescope wonders. It amazed and inspired me to realize that what was very abstract in appearance was actually something as real as the clouds of Jupiter, or millions of stars like that which rises in the east every morning to warm our world and grow all that lives, or the magnified look of our skin cells, or even the molecules which comprise what we are or what we eat. Hence the tagline on my instagram account: "Abstract Realism"
If you haven't seen this kind of slide show have a look HERE. It's a short movie I put together which zooms in on things at the smallest scale of anything we are able to detect - that is 10^-26 meters in scale (0.00000000000000000001 milimeters) a quark building block of matter
to 10^27 meters in scale - (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers in scale) the seen universe
In my work your eyes may see nothing more than colors, shapes and textures that are completely abstract to you. Others will see something real to them - maybe a fish, or a mountain, or a dancing person. Sometimes in my work you'll be able to see the very real object that has been abstracted by the way I've captured and expressed it to you - like the stamen of a flower in close up. Everything I create is an abstraction in some way, but what is real, and what is abstract - well my friends - that's entirely up to your own imagination!
My start and My art
Several years ago I made a friend, SK, while I was on the west coast for a conference related to a charity I served. I was a Board member of an organization devoted to prevention of child sexual abuse. SK and I are both highly trained technically - she in medicine - me in engineering. It also happened that we shared great interest in a range of art.
Over time, I would share dozens and dozens of colorful images of nature I had photographed. I learned that many people yearn for the calming engagement with form and color that can bring joy to what might be a gray and damp world. My friend was one of these people, and her positive reaction to my creations motivated me continue to create art in photographs and woodwork.
But I never felt like I had any ability to create any other forms of art. Until SK urged me forward. Through her encouragement I finally gathered the gumption to "give painting a try" a few months later. So I did my first watercolors and continued to receive encouragement to try more and more. Next was encaustic, encaustic photography, multi-media, wood art pieces and acrylic media. So while I drew inspiration from those people I personally knew who created art, as well as the art I loved to observe and study around the world, my friend was the catalyst. I owe her my deepest gratitude because I found the joy of creating beautiful things that bring people joy.
SK You Know who you are, and I would never have come this far without your inspiration - Thank you