Not too many people know this about me, but I actually came to Paducah to be an artist.
It was a serendipitous series of events that made me the owner of a fitness academy though.
Twelve years ago, I was a stay-at-home dad by day and an artist by night. Every day I was the primary caregiver for my kids, and at night I would struggle in my studio trying to come up with a body of work I could embrace. After a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago with my father, I became very inspired by their exhibits of art from the Orient.
It was a very special trip. My father and I had been largely estranged for many years, and on this trip we truly reconnected. Very soon after that he passed away (actually 10 years ago to the very day of my writing this).
I wish he could have seen what that trip catapulted me into.
Returning home, I began painting flowers that seemed to reflect a little of that Asian flare that inspired me in Chicago. I had once taken martial arts for about a year – long before all this – and I had always been enamored with eastern philosophy, samurai swords, kung fu movies. So I understood the attraction of the geographical influence, but why flowers…? I have no freaking idea! It’s just what came out first.
After a few months of painting flowers something very interesting started to happen. I realized that on some subconscious level I was creating these flowers because they were a perfect symbol of growth and transformation. And that’s what my soul was craving.
When a seed is planted, if conditions are favorable enough for it bud, it will struggle to find its way and maybe eventually break through. Then in its own time if it survives the elements, it will bloom into its greatest expression. Nature is amazing.
But I had to make the flowers my own. I didn’t want to paint flowers that already existed. To me that would be anti-climactic. I’d rather just look at the original flower. My background as a comic book fan and illustrator began to seamlessly integrate itself into the style of the flower as well. It was becoming.
As a new father and someone who was struggling to find their way in a new town, I was unfortunately still letting anxiety and poor lifestyle choices get the best of me. I was not fully cultivating the inspiration of growth that my flowers had planted in me. I decided I needed to do something different.
I walked into Three Rivers Martial Arts Academy, and the owner Jason Hawkins was between classes and took the time to sit and talk to me. He was so awesome, and I instantly wanted to have what he had. I took a brochure home and read it 50 times. I signed up the next day. The rest is history in the making.
Within just a couple of years, my art wasn’t feeding me as much as bodymind work (like martial arts and yoga) was, so I put my paintbrush down. However, I didn’t feel like I was losing anything or abandoning my work. I was still able to express and develop the same skill set I was using as a painter. More than ever, I truly felt like I was studying the art of growth and transformation, and that’s exactly what I want to keep practicing.
If I’m lucky, I may plant that seed in a few others along the way.