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Falcon artist determined to make it

Justin Sonny Eagles, a 25 year-old Falcon resident, will open his first solo art exhibit Oct. 2 at The Warehouse restaurant and brewery in Colorado Springs. The exhibit will feature 25 of his pieces and runs through the end of the month.Eagles has invited friends, family and other gallery curators, and the public is welcome as well.”Right now, it is local and small. But I eventually want to make it back to New York and into the big galleries,” Eagles said.He is a Falcon High School graduate and works with his father in the family woodworking and cabinetry business. However, most of his time is spent painting, and he incorporates some of the finishing and faux techniques from woodworking into his paintings.Eagles said he is self-taught and has benefited from mentors and a few art and drawing classes. He also studies the old masters and their techniques.”I’m trying to get the art to be my career. Even when I’m not painting, I try to get a half hour in of practicing my strokes,” Eagles said.His journey toward an art career has evolved. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been drawing. I wanted to do comic book art because I didn’t know anything about fine art and galleries,” Eagles said.As a teenager, he found a book by H.R. Giger, a Swiss surrealist, who developed the creature for the Alien films. Giger inspired Eagles to use art as an emotional outlet.Eagles worked as an airbrush artist but said he grew bored because his customers were all interested in the same things – flames and skulls. He began searching for a more creative outlet and moved into acrylic and oil paints.Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ” is another piece of art that influenced Eagles. “I love that old look – the Spanish and Catholic look,” he said. “I’ve always been attracted to dramatic struggle and the passion of art.”He said he seeks subjects with deep emotion and stories written on their faces. “I like to paint older people, drug addicts and criminals.”He also incorporates religious themes into his work. “I wish the Catholic Church would hire artists like they used to,” Eagles said. “Then I’d be housed, fed and clothed. Now days you have to sell to make it on your own. Art in general is tough – gallery art is really tough. People are really selective. Sometimes, it’s not your painting, it’s your credentials.”After the show at The Warehouse, Eagles said his goal is to schedule more exhibits and beef up his resume. “I finally feel my work is good enough, it’s my credentials that need more attention,” he said. “I need to work up the totem pole like everyone else.”Eagles said he is compelled to make art his living. “I really don’t feel I had a choice. I just feel this is what I have to do,” he said. “It’s tough because you lock yourself away. When I get so involved, I get really moody.”It’s in those moments Eagles worries that his art is observed as too abrasive, dark or even frightening. “But I like it that way. I really want it to come out and grab you,” he said.Eagles has carved out a studio space in his family’s basement. He works on each painting four to six months, but he has a hard time saying something is completely finished.”I’m kind of a perfectionist,” he said. “Even when they are supposed to be done – I’m always going back and fixing things.”Regardless of the naysayers, Eagles plans to keep plugging away at his art. “A lot of people think you can’t make a career out of this,” he said. “It’s a wrong idea; there are a lot of artists making it. You don’t have to wait until your dead. Part of what keeps me going is proving people wrong.”More about Justin EaglesEagles enjoys boxing. He uses it as a good workout, looks forward to the big matches, but said he’s never been in the ring. “I’m crazy but not stupid,” he said, adding that he prefers to keep his brain cells intact.He’s a Jets fan. “But we don’t win much, so it’s not that exciting. I’m also a proud Gators fan.”And gardening and cooking are favorite activities as well. He said his garden did extremely well this year with the extra rain. A burlap covering protected it from the hail. “The burlap got destroyed, but the vegetables were fine.”

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