…After I finished up commissions I had on my list, I was basically just painting… One day I pulled up a random photo online, decided just to paint a random dog, and I noticed this dog is a shelter dog, and it was a light bulb that went off where I said, “You know what, why don’t you, during Covid, when I’m home, why don’t I reach out to some local shelters and paint some of the long-time dogs and see if I can post them on social media, get them noticed and hopefully find them homes….
As a self-taught emerging artist, my work in oils is reflective of architecture, flora, landscape and street scenes that I’ve photographed in my travels, especially during a trip to Ireland, however the beauty of Long Island offers unsurpassed opportunities to create. The serenity of the East End, whether it’s on one of the undulating sea shores or in a bright lavender field, brings me to the canvas. Butterflies and birds take …
Sometime around 2008, the realization hit me fully and I changed my working title at Concierge Photography from Photographer to Photographic Artist (and added Director of Photography the last couple of years when I started directing photography and lighting for local indy director, Maria Sawoch Filipone). And the change came very suddenly. Typically, I endeavored to capture an image in the camera, and it either met my objective or it didn’t. I built up a small library of really good photographs, and a really large library of, to quote Agent 86, “Missed it by that much!”
One image convinced me to change from what I categorized as a Capture mindset to a Create mindset. Although it started as 2 images I took while running race committee for Sagamore Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, I saw potential for something better and I sat down in my first serious Photoshop session. About 9 hours later, I had created an image called Happy Fleet. I won’t bore you with the details, but the image Illustration of the Year for Professional Photographers of Greater New York, and Town of Oyster Bay People’s Choice Environmental Photo of the Year awards. It’s one of my bestselling artworks.
It was pretty bizarre when I went back to Vegas, you know, because I started getting a name for myself, and then that’s when, not too long after that, I got the gig at the Hilton orchestra. I stayed there a good eight years and on the band was James Moody, tenor player, phenomenal player, became like a father image to me, also. Carl Fontana, the great trombone player one of the best in the world if not the best in the world, Sam Noto to a great trumpet player coming out of Stan Kenton, Alex Acuna was on the band for a little while. He later went with Weather Report. It was a phenomenal band, phenomenal, some other players perhaps you had never heard of. We did all the TV shows there because they did them at the Hilton. So I got experience with television work.
Alex: and relying on the ability to read and play nice with others.
Tony: You have to read, you know, because the pressure is on. I became a good reader on the gig and when I had some spots in my reading that I had to work on I would go into LA on my day off and study. I studied with Joe Valenti who was orchestra leader at the LA Philharmonic as he was teaching sight reading to old studio guys, whatever little glitches, and you know the things they had to like, brush up on. He really helped me a lot.
Alex: It sounds like you were constantly looking to improve and learn from everyone you were exposed to. It’s great that you share those lessons with your students. Were there any special techniques developed along the way?
Tony: I have a picking technique that comes from the violin.
I studied with this picking genius at right hand plectrum technique because he was initially a violinist. He went way back to working with the old Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy. He was a violinist before the guitar was popular, his name was Joe Sgro.
Known for a special quality of light especially on the East End, Long Island has always been home to great and famous artists. Some of those artists were born and raised here, others were transient, coming here seasonally for the light or social life. The Hamptons still host artists of all kinds.
I WANT THE COVER! Almost every call I pick up for Long Island Portfolio, from an artist or their agent, gallery owner, clothing designer or restaurant owner, starts with those words. I am not sorry to say, the cover is not for sale. Each issue of LI Portfolio is dedicated to timely themes. Art for the cover should be attention grabbing…