Fresh out of art school, and terrified at the prospect of failure, I decided to take the easy way out. Rather than try immediately to become a professional artist, I would bide my time, live at home, and work at saving money. I already had a job waiting tables at a backwoods family diner; I saw this as an opportunity. I could work nights, paint days, I figured that in no time at all I would be living the dream. I did not, however, count on all of the excuses I would have not to paint. I figured that the diner had broken me; I’d lost the will to create. I didn’t see where I could find inspiration in a place like that, until it struck me. As a portrait painter interested in bending the traditional view of beauty there was no place better to find cannon fodder. My diner is a place frequented by regulars, each with colorful stories to tell. Many of these people have grown old in the houses their grandparents were born in; some of them have never left the state. Some are lonely; they are unmarried, widowed, and short on family. They come to us for a friendly face and we become their routine. I left this job to embrace the world, but find myself thinking of it often. It was the last place in the world I had expected to find happiness, but there I have a very large, occasionally toothless family. They listen while I recount my adventures, and carry on with the same enthusiasm about the benefits of a stick shift, apple season, the price of maple syrup, or a newborn calf. Theirs is a life of simplicity, which despite my wanderlust I am envious of. They do not hold themselves to the standards of the urban world, they are happy in the backwoods. Before I escaped I photographed many of our regulars, much of the staff. I am slowly beginning to paint them, trying to incorporate their biographies in their portraits. I am interested in the wrinkles and scars that make up a persons history. George Bellows is a serious influence on this series of work, his interest in the working class America and the palette he used to articulate his characters is reflected in my work.  I have always been interested in folklore and traditional story telling. I have a romanticized view of the past and of the world. Here, in my diner, where nothing ever changes, I feel as though I have found exactly that.