Gregg Rochester

Gregg Rochester headshot

RedBox

Wisconsin

Gregg Rochester, at 62, is a psychologist turned professional painter and he does not see himself retiring anytime soon. While Gregg’s career is truly his own, he had a great art role model and mentor in his mother. She was a professional artist who “wanted to go places and do interesting things.” She continued painting until she was 86, a year before she passed away, and said “until you can’t lift the brush anymore, you carry on”. She facilitated Gregg’s first real forage into the arts when at 16, his mother took him to Mexico where he studied silversmithing, pottery and classical guitar. Gregg’s love of the arts has continued to grow and embody the lessons that his mother passed onto him.

Gregg became a psychologist but instead of leaving his earlier interests behind, he returned to silversmithing and then at 40, took up painting. While Gregg paints on canvas now, he did not start off with this normal medium, instead he started out painting portraits and sophisticated subject matter on clothing. He wanted to “push creativity into a medium that has some creativity but not enough.” Gregg was soon picked up by a large catalog and seemed to be doing very well, until his sourcer ordered a large shipment for which Gregg never saw the money. With this disheartening turn of events, Gregg turned to canvasses in 1990. He loved painting so much and found such success that just ten years later, Gregg quit his psychology practice and became a full time artist.

Since then Gregg’s art has helped numerous people. He is very active in the health sector, bringing his art into hospitals and health clinics either as decoration or as inspiration and instruction in art programs. He also brought the healing aspect of art to a more personal level, giving his sick brother in law art lessons. Ravaged by aggressive leukemia, his brother-in-law was forced from his passions of hunting and dentistry. Gregg gave his brother-in-law an invaluable gift, a medium through which he could express himself from his heart. These art lessons opened up his brother-in-law’s eyes, changing his perspective from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can and am’. He was able to take his two passions and incorporate them into his work by focusing on the outdoors and nature.

Art is a very important part of Gregg.  Like his mother, he believes that artists do not outgrow their need to create. Gregg was lucky; he was introduced to art at a young age and really fostered the skills throughout his life. But he emphasizes that it is not too late, anyone can make art at any age. “Some people are lucky enough to be exposed, but now there are tremendous opportunities in all different mediums. There are so many ways to get involved: volunteering, classes, going to museums and more. You just have to choose one that calls to you.” One of his favorite classes to teach is an intergenerational shirt painting class with grandparents and their grandchildren.  “This is a great way to get involved because you are doing something with someone you love and both groups are so proud to wear the art of the other.”

It is important to find what you love and incorporate it into your art. Gregg’s love for the outdoors is clear through his art work as he focuses on painting landscapes. His love for the outdoors has also manifested itself in a different way, his love of racing bicycles. Gregg does not just ride these bicycles, but he hand paints them as well. This medium allows him to foster his creative skills but also his need for physical activity. For those interested in taking up art, Gregg advises finding something you love and then create for yourself. “Art is something that ages in itself, some people just have trouble encouraging themselves, but once they see they can create, it is addictive.”