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Artist Interview by Jane Anderson

Mark Moore —electrician by day, artist by night. The primary medium for this self-taught artist is acrylic, but he certainly doesn’t limit himself to canvas. A devoted family man, he lives with his wife and two sons (ages 4 and 15 months) in Northern Alabama.

So, tell me about yourself. The thirty-second bio. Something that I wouldn’t find already online.

That’'s really all there is to know. Born in Ohio. Moved to Alabama. Learned the Southern lingo. [Writer’s note: Mark speaks with a Southern drawl. Which made mine worse as the interview progressed.] Go to work every day; I’'m an electrician. Spare time I do my artwork; I'’ve done it since before I started writing. Pretty much it.

I also tattoo. But I don'’t do it professionally. I don'’t do it as much anymore.

You mentioned that you’'re an electrician. How long have you been an electrician?

Eighteen years. Close to it, anyway. It’s kind of like factory work now.

Why’'d you become an electrician?

I guess, for a living. As far as back then, the artists that you looked up to, like Picasso, they didn’t make money until they died. You know you can'’t raise a family after you'’re dead.

So electrical work, I took it as a job. Eighteen years later, it’s still here. It’s a good job. Good career. Something I may had done over if I had the chance.

If you had the chance to do it over, what would you do?

That’'s a really good question. I could tell you what I wouldn'’t do. Nothing in the construction industry. Period.

As far as what I would do, I don'’t know. Engineer, maybe. Digital designer. Something else, I can tell you that.

You’'ve been doing art and being creative since before you could write. Do you remember one of the first things that you drew?

Mickey Mouse. That was the first thing that I drew.

I haven'’t done any formal training, but we did have some art classes in grade school. They had some kind of contest in Ohio when I was a kid, and I actually won it. Hard remembering it, you know… But I remember winning.

Do you remember what you won [the competition] with? What you created?

I don'’t remember. I remember my mother making a big deal out of it, but other than that, no.

I read that you really started putting paint to canvas after your mom passed away. How quickly after your mom passed [in 2009] did you find art as an outlet for you?

It was within a month that I really started focusing on it. That'’s what she always wanted me to be. She always wanted me to follow the art, but you know, I didn'’t listen. Kids don’t listen. But after she passed, as far as canvas goes, that’s when I started concentrating on it. Because that'’s what she wanted. That was her thing.

Is there a particular thing that you started painting that really reminded you of her?

Princess. One of the first paintings I'’ve done, and it was a flower from her funeral. We brought the flower home, planted it in the front yard, and it’s just grown ever since. I knew she'’d like that flower, and I thought I'’d try painting it. Give it a try and see what happens.

You mentioned Picasso. What artists really influence you?

I don’t want to say this without kicking myself here. I never follow that type of art. But you'’d have to be blind not to know who Picasso is.

I guess the main one for modern art would be Bob Ross. We used to watch him growing up. I still watch him now when he comes on.

But now, I’ve had people say that my work looks like Georgia O'’Keeffe’s'. And, to be honest with you, I never even knew who she was, so I went and looked her up. Now I do like her work because my work looks like hers.

Mark, what'’s your goal with your art?

I enjoy it, so my thinking on it, if I enjoy it maybe I can make something that someone else can enjoy. You know? That’'s probably the best thing for me is bringing joy to other people.

What one or two comments that people have given to you that have really touched your heart?

Family members say, “Mother would be so proud.” Or they wish I would have done it while my mother was alive.

As far as the comments, I’'m not the type of person to dote on that kind of thing. I’'ve had some great comments.… That kind of thing don’t’ float my boat.

What does float your boat?

Creating. That'’s what it’s all about. That'’s what I like to do. And that could be on anything, really. A canvas to me could be a concrete floor. Whether it'’s skin or canvas, wood or whatever.

At the end of the day, you feel like you'’ve just got to paint. What makes you do that?

My family. My boys, particularly my oldest. He says, “Daddy, you can'’t paint walls, but you sure can make some pretty pictures.” It’s just stuff like that, stuff that I let him make, too. I set him up with a little canvas, let him go to town. We do it together.

Do you think he’'ll do something creative when he grows up?

I think so. My wife doesn'’t. She thinks he'’s about as creative as she is. He'’s four. He can make little smiley faces and stuff like that. When I remember back, that'’s how I started. We’ll see, when it comes. He may, he may not, but he enjoys doing it.

I’ve got a couple of quick ones, just because I want to ask them. Is there a favorite thing that you like to paint?

Florals come really easy for me. Portraits, on the other hand, they’re really tough for me. I mean tough. I enjoy doing portraits because they’re very challenging, but at the same time, I like the outcome of the flowers. So I can’t really say that there’s a favorite.

How long have you been doing portraits?

The first one I’'ve done was Elvis, so the portraits for me are new. It was something I tried.

Actually, I did one before that. I did my boy. Yeah, I wouldn'’t show that to… anyone I destroyed it, let’s put it that way. But I wouldn'’t give up. I ain'’t going to stop. And I'’m going to do him again …eventually.

Now, as far as a favorite painting goes, for me would be Just Romance. And that one’s my favorite because it’s on a mirror. And painting on a mirror is completely different than painting on any other surface I’ve painted on. And I wasn'’t even sure that it would turn out to be a decent painting. I had a lot of fun with that one.

Why'’s it one of your favorites?

Just because of the mirror itself. How the paint went on it. It was different and fun.  Painting on a mirror is a lot more work than painting on a canvas. You’'ve got to prep the mirror first, then you'’ve got to paint it, then you'’ve got to prep it again. With a canvas, you paint it, you'’re done. I'’d paint on another one if I get the chance.

One last question. For someone that’s a secret artist now, like you were, and they'’re starting to think that they might like to show their art, what advice would you give to them?

I can tell you why I kept mine secret: I didn'’t like to be judged. Judging doesn'’t bother me now—, before it would. So if I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn'’t have kept it secret.

Basically, life’s a chance. You’'ve got to take it. If you miss your chance, you don’t always get second and third chances. So you get a chance, take it.

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