I aim to create paintings that contain so much thought and passion in every stroke that they cannot be seen in a single glance. With my mother's motto in mind, “If you paint from the heart you will reach the heart,” I pour my soul like paint into the canvas in an attempt to understand my past, present, and the world around me.

I aim to draw the viewer deep into my work, so that they recognize themselves and the ideas within each of my paintings. Utilizing basic art principles - light and dark areas, contrasting color, dominance, and contrast - I reflect the world around me as I see it in order to help myself and others understand our personal and cultural histories. Meditation is a key component in my busy day to day existence, which includes a full-time job, international Elvis performances, and painting, and I attempt to pass that clarity of thought that I achieve through meditating into my work.

Like life, the ideas for my paintings flow like dreams, but the work is laborious. Sometimes it takes me years of research and thought before I embark on a new work. Carefully contemplating my subject matter, I first have a vision of a completed painting. These images strike like lighting during a day dream, while sleeping, or during a conversation. I journal these ideas for days or months, moving far within a subject before even sketching anything. Once I feel I am ready to begin translating the image from my mind to the canvas, I then expose layer after layer until the thoughts and verbal expressions behind the idea are laid bare, lucid to me and the viewer. I work on that piece exclusively, sometimes for as long as three years, until all of my thoughts have reached the canvas and it looks exactly as I imagined it on the first day in that vision in my head.

In my teens and twenties, my drug addiction had a major influence on my art. This life-threatening period opened areas of my mind that I would have never visited. This openness of thought allowed me to shut out the stresses of the world and fully concentrate on the creative side of my being. Now, drug-free for twenty-two years, I go there whenever I paint. I accredit art and Ola Jones, the agent who discovered me in 1985, for saving my life. Painting is what gave me the dreams and direction to begin a new life without drugs. As an addict, I painted the negative side of existence, whereas now, my work reflects the positive energy that I've brought back into my life.

samuel j. formica


Samuel Formica (b. 1964, Chester County) is a self-taught painter who lives in Philadelphia, PA.