TRENTON CITY MUSEUM AT ELLARSLIE
Who is the "Pencil Artist” John D. Herz?
I didn’t know I was an artist until I was 58 years old, but I’d like to digress a bit and tell you how I got to where I am now.
I was born March 1948 in Trenton, New Jersey. I grew up in a loving and nurturing household. Most of my childhood was, I think, pretty normal for that time. I graduated from high school in 1965 and continued my education for 2 years at the University of Cincinnati.
In 1967 I joined the Navy for a 4-year “hitch” during a tumultuous time, and had the opportunity to see the world while on the Aircraft Carrier USS John F. Kennedy, CV 67.
The birth of my son Devin brought me such joy and made 1976 a great year. He is now a wonderful man.
Through the next 30+ years I had a series of experiences as an entrepreneur. While living in Florida friends introduced me to Nancy McCrary, the woman of my dreams, now my partner in life. The only challenge was she lived on Long Island, outside of New York City. After commuting for our long-distance relationship I decided to move north in 2002 to be with her.
Which brings me to 2006 and my 58th birthday. On that day, Nancy became not only my dream, she also became my Muse, by actually starting me in the art world. As a birthday gift she took me to an art store and told me to buy what I needed to draw, as she had seen me do that from time to time-- though not for many years. Until then I had never really felt a passion for creating, though I always loved art, design, and architecture. When I picked up my gift and began drawing I knew something had changed. Not only was I enjoying it, but I found my skills exceeded my expectations. I drew constantly for the next 10 months using images I found on the internet. Then my love for drawing changed forever.
I met Mr. Herman Higs, a fishing guide, in The Bahamas. I asked if he would agree to be a subject of a drawing and he gladly posed for my camera. Thus his portrait became the first I did from my own photography.
Now I was hooked. Back in New York I carried my camera everywhere and amassed a portfolio of faces I couldn’t resist drawing. During this time I often met and had conversations with those less fortunate on the streets of the city. I don’t believe anyone starts life wanting to end up there, but life can be cruel.
I continue to turn to the streets to find many of my subjects, and my series of drawings based on these people is called “The Uncommon Man." As you can see, my true passion is giving a face and a name to those whom most people would just pass by.
The summer of 2016 brought a new element to my drawing: COLOR. Actually creating the colors I see in my mind's eye is a process different from using solely graphite and charcoal pencils. Now not only do I see in values of gray, I see in full color! An entirely new world has opened.
I’m living the dream I never dreamed.