"Wayne Daugherty -- I think he
inspired me to get back into art, so I did," says Sirimongkhon
gave me paper.And my wonderful wife (Barbie) came home with new brushes and new paints."
met a "wonderful friend," he
"People started noticing," says Barbie Sirimongkhon
also did a mural at Bate Middle School
and was hired on at Centre College
as a graphic designer -- all this in just a year's time.
"Everything happened so fast," says Sirimongkhon
."People would call and say, 'I want a painting like Mark and Lori's.' And the people I paint for are real social people."
Meaning the people for whom he
paints entertain friends, who see Sirimongkhon's work on the wall.And although he
is a "modest, discreet painter" who used to give away his
staying busy now.
"I've sold over 30 paintings in the last year," Sirimongkhon
says, with a slightly startled look on his
smiles."But I'm not rich yet. ...I price art according to what I would pay for it."
Some friends recommend he
prices; a few tell him he's
out of their league.But price is no obstacle for many.At Sirimongkhon's
last art show in March, he
sold four works in an hour, and sold 11 works total.
At another exhibit at Danville High School
got together a few at his
"But I don't want to lose customers," Sirimongkhon
says."I'm still humble -- and very, very moody."
That moodiness finds its outlet in his
"I'm struggling between realism and expressionism," he
explains."Now, it's abstract."He
rarely sketches anything before painting, so oftentimes the music to which he
is listening dictates the piece.
"I let the brush do the work," Sirimongkhon
...A native of Vientiane, Laos, Sirimongkhon came to the United States in 1979 to attend Berea College, where he earned a degree in industrial arts technology and management.
Prior to that, he
lived in France, Thailand, and Australia and Laos.His
parents left Southeast Asia as political refugees in 1975.As a teen-ager in Paris, Sirimongkhon
was a bit of a troublemaker.Being accepted at Berea
was "the best thing that ever happened to me," he
"My parents were happy to send me to America," Sirimongkhon
explains."I met Barbie
, who was a freshman at the same time, and she
helped me with my English.Berea
is an awesome school."His
artistic style was influenced by his
time living in Paris, but with two older brothers -- Sirimongkhon
is the ninth of 12 children -- his
art influence had earlier beginnings.
"Paris gave me a different view, a totally different style," he
notes."I did Paris scenes, even when I came to the United States."
But it didn't work for him, he
"It's free-flowing and very expressive," Sirimongkhon
says one of the challenges of being artists is trying to get his
kids interested in it as well.He
already sees budding talent in Dillon, he
says, as he
points out a drawing of the comic book character Wolverine on the wall.
The money has been a plus to being an artist, Sirimongkhon
says.But it's not all that important, he
prefers the pleasure of knowing people are putting his
works on their walls.