I grew up on the upper eastside of Manhattan, in New York City, in a large Italian family. As far back as I can remember, I was always painting and drawing as a child. My parents bought me all manner of sketchbooks, crayons and paint sets, and took me to all the wonderful museums of the city. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was my favorite, and when I was old enough, I often went there alone on my way home from school, spending countless hours studying and drawing the incredible works there.
When I was 15 we moved to Malibu, California, and a year later I began my formal training as an artist at UCLA. I studied a wide range of relevant styles and media; realism, impressionism, expressionism, minimalism, conceptual art, photography, film, etc. An extended period of study with hyper-realist painter James Valerio had the most impact on my technique as a realist. In 1979 I completed my undergraduate work at UCLA and received a B.F.A.