Monte Lee Thornton, On The Bluff 60ft, Stake Bay, Cayman Brac Member Since October 2008 Artist Statement Becoming An Artist Painting requires that one take a blob of coloured pigment, and with a variety of brushes and techniques create an image where when viewed by others, will invoke the emotions the artist felt when inspiration compelled him to paint. For me the process of becoming an artist began in 1964 when at the age of seven my grandfather Waif Hamilton gave me a Kodak Browning 110 camera. In New Orleans at the time, I began photographing the draw bridges, fisherman's wharfs and because it took so long to get the film developed, I started drawing from memory what I'd seen, while waiting impatiently for weeks and months to receive the photo prints.
As an American Boy Scout, I chose a project on the subject of sharks, having become fascinated with the underwater life, through the television series by Jacques Cousteau. At the age of nine I took up taxidermy as a hobby and studied shaping muscles, which later provided valuable information in sketching wildlife. This knowledge was drawn on to paint my humpback whales, and various shark paintings. In my college years the vertebrate biology course resulted in my study of the Snowy White Egret. During family summer vacations drawing become the most important thing to do over the 4 to 8 hour car ride to the next location to explore. Camping in all the state parks and historical locations within the 48 states, resulted in six years of studying nature and architecture. But it took until I was in high school art class that I first found out that I had talent and potential to become an artist. My teacher informed me that she saw talent and skills that were advanced beyond the current instruction level, and gave me independence to explore watercolor, and acrylic painting techniques.
In 1976, I joined the Army for a duty station in Hawaii, where my life long dream to explore underwater as a scuba diver was realized. I quickly completed the requirements to become a SCUBA instructor to help others discover how magnificent the aquatic life is. Then while working for a local dive operation I was exposed to underwater photography, and first had the opportunity to dive and explore every day, capturing what I saw in underwater photography. These photographs assisted me in 1979, when I began painting again after returning to Texas. In the years that followed, I began leading dive tours to oil rigs 35 miles off the Texas Coast every weekend for 10 years, where the VA Fogg shipwreck and Flower Gardens dive sites advanced my knowledge of aquatic life. I also started leading international SCUBA tours and photography tours to Cayman, Belize and Honduras.
In 1989 I got a chance to go to Egypt and Jordan on a photography tour. All the traveling allowed me to build an enormous library of photography in slides and print film, which provides material for me to study in preparation of painting a new inspiration. My dream to settle in the Cayman Islands was amazingly realized in 2001, while on a Thanksgiving dive tour to Grand Cayman I first met my wife. She lived in Texas but was a Caymanian longing to return to the Cayman Islands to live. We married in 2002 at a sunset wedding on the beach in Grand Cayman. In 2004 we were able to relocate permanently to the Cayman Islands, and after five years of living in Grand Cayman we made the big decision to move on over to Cayman Brac where her family had lived for generations. We found our home high on top of the Bluff, with a panoramic view of the ocean, beyond the tropical forest in our backyard. Each evening we enjoy from our porch hammocks sunsets over the ocean. The art studio is part of our home and rightly named Inspiration studio. You are invited to visit us, anytime. We'll greet you with fresh lemonade made from the lemons we grow, and give you a tour of our home and Inspiration Studio.