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"I’ve been studying art as long as I can remember. Even before I knew I was studying art. When I was little I used to look at the children’s books that we had at the school library and I was always attracted to the very fine detailed illustrations. Particularly the Christmas books because they had the best illustrations with the Christmas trees and fireplaces.
When I was in high school, a good friend introduced me to his uncle, Maurice Meyer, who is a well established seascape and landscape painter living in Laguna Beach, Ca. I became captured by the luminous quality of his paintings. Later when I picked up the paintbrush, I was fascinated with the luminous quality of the old masters works of the Hudson River artist such as Fredric Church, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran and how the light seemed to come from within the painting. I wanted to learn how to do that because to me it was like performing a magic trick. People would want to know how I did that sky or breaking surf with light coming from within.
When I began my formal studies, as part of my pursuit to gain an art degree, I studied under a very prominent Russian Master by the name of Constantine Cherkas. He really taught me the importance of pure colors and how the light you use while painting is so important to the final painting. I’ve tried to incorporate all those qualities in my abstract paintings.
Inevitably I think my abstracts have inferences to landscape or seascapes. It’s not something I try to do; however, I love the Southwest and I live near the ocean. I was born in New Mexico where the elevation and red earth provided incredible color, light and reflection; something Georgia O’Keefe loved so much. The Southwest light always provided very inspiring subjects and of course the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean with its crimson, violet and golden light have had such an overwhelming influence in my work. I don’t mind it because I think my finished paintings have a very luminous quality; yet, still leave a lot for the viewer to interpret.
I had to use acrylic paint a lot when I was studying art at California State University, Northridge, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) when I was getting my formal education out of the way. As students we had to produce a lot of work in a very short period of time so the speed in which acrylic dries helped in that endeavor. However, my first love has always been oil paint because of the very luminous quality of the paint. Mastering the medium has been a life-long struggle and yet, a very fulfilling journey for me.
Growing up in a large family, I had to share a bedroom with nine other brothers and sisters. To solidify a good income, I entered into the law enforcement profession. During the 35 years in law enforcement, I rose through the ranks and ultimately retired as the Chief of Police of LAX, one of the largest International Airports in the county. Painting and art always brought balance and beauty to my life during those times when I literally fought against both evil, and political pressures. Now retired from law enforcement, I have immersed myself into my artwork where I can reflect on my view of the world through my art". -- George Centeno
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