Editor's Note: Kicks presents 20Q, which introduces readers to people involved in the area's arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece includes a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person's artistic interests but also his or her personality.

Tony DiNicola

Growing up on Milwaukee's east side, artist Tony DiNicola took an interest in art—sketching scenes from his neighborhood. He considers art an extension of his appreciation for humanity and its surroundings.

Across a 40-year span, he has painted numerous commissioned works and participated in shows in the Milwaukee and Janesville areas at Raven's Wish Gallery, Hedberg Public Library and Beckman Mill, to name a few. He recently was awarded first place in the wildlife division of the Wisconsin Regional Art Program's statewide exhibition.

DiNicola is married to his wife and best friend, Jane, and the couple have two grown children—Amanda and Paul. For nearly 33 years, he has worked as a graphic artist for The Gazette in Janesville.

To learn more about DiNicola or to view his portfolio, visit anthony-dinicola.pixels.com.

1. Where do you find the inspiration for your work? Mostly from nature, but almost anything that catches my eye can spark an idea for my next piece.

2. Do you find that art truly does imitate life? I do. Capturing a setting or certain emotion on canvas is an extension of life itself.

3. On average, how much time do you tend to spend on each piece? That's hard to say because I sometimes have several going at once. I often put a piece aside for days or weeks, which allows me to get a fresh look at it later.

4. Do you have an artistic mentor? Sam Gansheroff, my college instructor. He and I formed a close working relationship, and he was instrumental in encouraging me to continue with my art.

5. Do you work best in silence, or do you prefer background noise? I prefer to listen to music. The genre depends on my subject matter, but it's mostly instrumental.

6. Of all the pieces of art you have created, do you have a particular favorite? No. Every piece is a welcomed struggle to achieve the desired end result. It's more of a labor of love than a hobby for me.

7. Who is your favorite artist? I've always admired Vincent van Gogh. Fighting through his mental demons before dying at 37, he created thousands of pieces of work in the ten-year period he painted. Amazing.

8. What initially sparked your interest in art? A neighbor who was and still is a professional artist was an early inspiration. My folks encouraged me by having enough scrap paper and pencils at the kitchen table.

9. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you. Before entering the art community, I was an armed guard for Purolator Security in Milwaukee—handling bags of money containing $100,000 dollars or more. That would've bought a lot of art supplies.

10. What is your favorite color? Green. It suggests life and new growth. I love all earth tones.

11. How do you know when a work is finished? Although I sign and frame some of my art for display, I feel my work is never completely done. I'm never totally content because I know some parts of it could have been improved upon.

12. Are you a Facebook/Twitter/Instragram person, or do you avoid social media altogether? Facebook only at this point. I'd much rather spend time studying my canvas than a screen. I'm kind of old-school that way.

13. What is your most important artist tool? My eyes. Artists see the world through a different set of eyes. We tend to take notice of small things most people may miss.

14. Do you paint from imagination, memory or a combination of the two? Mostly a combination, but I like to ad-lib and work from memory at times. I use that as a kind of relief valve from a more rigid approach.

15. Sitcoms, reality TV or documentaries? Documentaries. They hold my interest and I like anything factual that's related to nature and natural history.

16. Is eccentricity essential to being a good artist? If not, what is the most important trait in your opinion? It may not be essential, but I don't deny that most artists are a little off-center. Creativity stems from our minds, and people sometimes perceive artists as a little strange. I admit I'm OK with that.

17. Explain the importance of continuing art programs in schools. Art education in schools can help young minds explore a variety of ways to express themselves. Even if they don't continue in the arts later on, it offers them a creative break from uniformity.

18. Do you subscribe to the theory that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people? No. There's no hard evidence of this. The creative process begins with all parts of the brain, and which hand a person uses to create with is insignificant.

19. Is there a particular element in your works that you're most proud of? Although nature is what I do more of, I'm glad I had professional instruction in sketching the human figure in art school. It is one of the most difficult things to master, and it's always a work in progress.

20. If you could display your art anywhere in the world, where would it be? The location wouldn't be important to me. Just sharing it is what makes me happy.

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