biography: early influences

I began painting with oils at age 15, although that romance began much earlier through the influence of my father and the great museums of New York.

I was born in 1960 on Long Island, New York, into a large family of seven with a rich artistic background. My greatest artistic influence from childhood into my teens was from my father, Gordon Porter (b. 1925–) who made his living as an illustrator in New York City. With his wonderful gift of imagination and keen ability to draw out of his head, he carved himself a unique place in the commercial art field.

My Dad painted watercolors on the weekends and during family vacations at the lake, which inspired me greatly. His paintings and illustrations hung all over our house. These images are deeply woven into my imagination and were my earliest introduction into the world of art. I am grateful for his encouragement and for teaching me how to develop sound drawing through observation and the habit of sketching.

On occasion, we took family trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where I saw the paintings of such masters as Degas, Monet, and Pissarro, who I loved from a very young age.

Watercolor painting by my father, Gordon Porter

My grandfather, Henry Porter (1900–1951), drew for Walt Disney from mid 1936 to 1950. He began as an animator, working on the classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Due to the strain on his eyes from this work he moved over to the Publicity Department illustrating all the Disney characters on the covers of magazines and comic books. He produced much of the art for the Sunday comic strips of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Pinocchio". He also designed many of the WWll insignias for the U.S. military. Hank died before I was born but I felt his influence through my father.

Left: Mickey Mouse Magazine. Illustration Hank Porter, 1939.
Above rIght: Photo montage of my grandfather Hank Porter at his drawing board
"Bottom right: How to Swim", sketch by Hank Porter for Walt Disney Studios

Hank's brother, Allen Porter, (1902-1987) worked for the MoMA in New York on 53rd street. My great Uncle Allen was a very eccentric art lover whose house was an old country church. As a child, I loved visiting his unique world upstate in Barrytown, New York.