Passion and Perseverance Create Amazing Whimsical Art
Seven-year-old Paul Moschell loved to draw. He doodled on the inside of textbooks and scribbled on the outside of notebooks, so when he heard his first grade year would involve an actual art class, he was really excited. Paul couldn’t wait to dive into projects where he could use different colors and different styles; but when he actually showed up to his art class on the first day of school, the teacher handed him and the rest of the students only two things: a piece of plain white copy paper and a bright yellow number 2 pencil. “I went to a small private school in Indiana and I quickly learned that they didn’t invest much time and effort into their art classes,” Moschell said. “So that day it basically felt more like we were just trying to use up an hour of time with very limited supplies.” In that moment Paul felt like it was a lost opportunity, but actually that piece of paper, that pencil, and, most importantly, the freedom he had to draw whatever he wanted opened a door in his mind that led him right to his inspiration. Inspiration that gave this young first grader a path to create with no boundaries, a journey to truly learn what he loves, and an opportunity to make his eventual dream become a reality.
When Paul pointed his pencil down on the copy paper, he knew that he could draw anything that he wanted; so rather than attempting the predictable types of pictures that his classmates were doing, he decided to be different. “I went into my imagination and created my own fictional world with my own made up people; people that only I would be able to recognize and relate to,” said Paul, “Then I drew those people exactly the way that I thought them up.” Moschell began to really feed off of his connection with his own drawings motivating him to dig deeper and deeper into his imagination, giving each of his creations their own name and their own story. Through grade school, high school and eventually college, Moschell stayed devoted to his craft, all the while experimenting with a number of different ways to give his characters a life form of their own. He would look around his house for things that he could use to create the hair, face and details of each of his imaginary characters. Old tobacco tins, light bulbs, sewing spools, old tee shirts; whatever he found, he used. Eventually Paul’s passion, known as assemblage sculpture, had him searching the world of collectibles to find exact items that he could use to create each character as sculpture.
After college, Paul’s love for his artistic creations continued to swell but he needed to find a job so he went to work as a grade school art teacher. He worked as a teacher for five years and while he enjoyed seeing the kids everyday, he often felt like something was missing. “I knew I needed a change so I stopped teaching, went back home and started searching for my next path in life.” A few months later Paul put his best drawings into a portfolio and decided it was time, once and for all, to see what other people thought of his work. “I thought to myself, I don’t want to be one of those people who keep all of my artwork locked away in my basement never to be seen by anyone, so it’s time to go for it.”
Paul tucked his portfolio under his arm and hit the streets of Indianapolis, going from one art gallery to another to see if there was any interest. Eventually he found the Hot House Gallery and, as luck would have it, when he walked in the door he learned that the manager had just gotten word that his artist wasn’t going to be available for the gallery’s upcoming show. “He looked at my stuff, explained to me about the cancelation and then asked me if I could have a show with my drawings ready to go in two months.” Paul said. He happily said yes and when the show arrived, it couldn’t have gone better. The gallery was sold out, the local newspaper wrote up a great review on his work and, most importantly, he officially had the validation and confidence to share his artwork with the world.
Paul would go on to host numerous shows in the Indianapolis area and by this point he wasn’t just showing his paintings, his assemblage sculptures were also on display. Two years later, he went to Chicago with his collection and drew the interest of the Mars Gallery where his paintings and sculptures could be seen regularly. His confidence was high and his determination to continue creating new people through drawings and through assemblage sculpture was paying off. Paul had finally reached a new level of satisfaction that he believes wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t follow a certain self-taught strategy. “Everything I do now is a result of me really finding myself in that first grade art class and discovering what I truly like.” said Paul. “Artists who are starting out, first and foremost, need to take the time to figure out what they love and THEN get passionate about it.”
Once you discover what you love to create, Moschell believes the next key to being a successful artist is to be aggressive with your attitude and your motivation level. “You need to go into galleries with confidence. You need to be brave and not let criticism get you down.” Paul continued. “Show your work, share your work and be persistent with the galleries that you’re going to.”
Finally while Paul’s artistic career has always been centered around discovering his passion and sharing his work, he also believes that it’s vitally important as an artist to know your audience. “Once you get your work out there, you need to pay attention to who likes your work and what they like about it,” said Paul. “Knowing these types of things will allow you to focus on creating certain things and it also helps you determine what galleries you should approach with your artwork.”
Today Paul Moschell lives in Denver, Colorado and his days of knocking on gallery doors are over. He now has his own gallery called Paul Moschell Artist Studio and inside is a wide collection of his work from over the years. It’s a dream come true for a man whose journey started in a first grade art class with a piece of plain white copy paper, a bright yellow number 2 pencil and an imagination that’s led him on an educational path from artistic experimentation to career validation.