I was born in 1941 in the small city of Somerville, Massachusetts, located next to the historic American city of Boston. Both my mother and father were the children of poor Italian immigrants who came to America with a dream of creating a better life for themselves and their children in the land of golden opportunity. Never looking back, never forgetting who they were or from whence they came, nor ever abandoning their Italian culture, they embraced their new home and country as best they knew how—with great determination, sacrifice and hard work. In the beginning it was not easy for them. Living in “Little Italy”, Boston’s North End, they struggled for years. They never gave up. Hard times only made them stronger. They persevered. And they succeeded beyond their greatest expectations.
After what can only be described as a 40 year rather eclectic business career, I retired and traveled the world with my wife as she pursed her business career. It was quite an exciting and rewarding time in our lives. During one assignment in Okinawa, Japan she suggested that I consider taking an art course “just for the fun of it” and to “keep busy” while she was away from home on a several months special project. Even though my only experience doing art, other than “crayon time” at nursery school and kindergarten, was drawing assorted Disney characters as a young boy on manila file folders for the enjoyment of my younger sister—although, as I remember, they were quite good—I thought, why not?
So with a healthy dose of trepidation, skepticism and zero expectations I decided to enroll in one of the local art programs.
Being color blind (red/brown), I knew that it would be seriously problematic for me if I took an oil or water color painting class. I still remember how frustrating it must have been for my dad patiently trying to teach me the impossible, “my colors”. Especially, since dad was quite well known in the local painting and building restoration trade for no less than his ability to mix and match colors without the help of a computer—the old fashion way—by sight. Hence, by default, it was the “beginning pencil drawing” class for me— coincidentally my only art class, formal or otherwise.
My instructor, the inscrutable Mr. Yoshida, an infinitely patient man, a wonderfully gifted artist and to whom I will be eternally grateful, slowly guided me through the basics. Over the course of the next several weeks I drew lots and lots of “mundane” stuff until after what seemed an eternity, Mr. Yoshida turned up the heat and began challenging me to draw ever more difficult subjects. And soon, to my utmost surprise, I became quite skillful with the pencil and pen. But more importantly, I had come to realize that I had found my true calling. That I can with a few pencils, pens, paper and paint create pieces of art that capture a time, place or an emotion in my life is quite astounding to me and truly a most blessed gift.
Today we live and in the little village of Neunkirchen am Potzberg located in Germany’s Rheinland Pfalz area where I spend my days working in my studio, helping renovate our two hundred year old farm house, or indulging in a variety of other fun things. Incidentally, I am often asked, “If I am color blind how is it that I am able to colorize so many of my pencil/graphite drawings?” Well it’s all my work—one hundred percent. As they say “necessity is the mother of invention”. And it has never been more apropos than in my case. I just figured out how to do it. No telling where or how far this journey will take me or when the adventure will end but until then I remain artist, Jerry Ceglia.