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Joe Billera

My life as a painter began in 1985, though I have “doodled” since grade school, being greatly influenced by the drawings of John Lennon and Paul Klee. When I started, I did it for myself as a sort of therapy. I was confined to my bed after being shot by a mugger during a trip to Washington, D.C. I was bored, fractured and frustrated. While still in the hospital my wife, Dory, brought me paper, paint and brushes to pass the time. I basically painted every day for the seven weeks in the hospital and continued when I got back to NYC. I began with baby steps and over time, went from 3X5 to 5X7, 8X10, etc. Lately, I’m working with canvases measuring 48×72.

As for the medium, I love working with acrylic paint because of the immediacy. I don’t have the patience to wait for oil to dry. My choice of subject matter varies widely, and inspiration comes from many sources: paintings, drawings, the newspaper, photographs, cartoons, the sky, etc.

Deciding which direction a painting will go is a democratic process between the painting and me. Sometimes we agree and sometimes not. I usually start with a specific idea, but by the time I finish the painting it hardly resembles what I had intended at the start. This process can be both exciting and frustrating. I agree with the artist Francis Bacon when he stated, “The hardest thing about painting is knowing when to stop.” I quit painting for a stretch of time because of personal reasons. After awhile, I realized I missed painting. It was like missing a good friend.