MOREHEAD – Art is to be shared and enjoyed. Anyone can do it.

But it takes focus and an identity.

Bret Joseph of Morehead, who paints under the name Kordi Beez, has learned these traits through his own perseverance and the mentoring of Swedish artist Johan Tordhag.

Tordhag spent eight days in Morehead recently, helping Kordi learn how to market himself and promoting him as part of an artistic team.

Their thought is that artists can accomplish more when they work together. This is especially true when they can split costs when renting exhibit space and promote each other when they are showing their own art.

Tordhag was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1961. He has exhibited across the globe in Croatia, New York, Paris and the United Kingdom, among other places.

He has presented his work in galleries and on beaches and yachts.

“I’m pushing Kordi to be a greater artist,” Tordhag said. “We started our relationship on Facebook and he was making these crappy paintings. I told him straight up, this is crap, man, do something else. Get your art identity, and he found it. He has his own identity now.”

Tordhag says competition is hard and artists should not be too diverse if they want to succeed.

“They are painting landscapes, flowers, everything. For me, I paint a lot of bulls and that’s my identity. The bull represents a very kind animal, but when you tease it, it would be really angry, and that’s me,” Tordhag said.

An art professor in Stockholm told him not to paint bulls that look like bulls because that’s very difficult to do. Paint them what you feel they should look like, he said.

“I was close to getting in trouble when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. I was pretty lucky. I didn’t get caught. I had a dad who sent me to a boarding school to shape up and I went to the Marines for two years. I have a lot of energy. What I did when I was a youngster – I put that energy into the wrong things. When I was about 20 I realized that energy has to go somewhere, so from that day it goes out to the painting and you get kind of addicted to it. You have to be 100% focused.”

Kordi’s focus has helped him create 18 “pensive man” paintings, or products of deep reflection, he said.

“Johan was working with me, developing my style,” Kordi said. “In the beginning he saw that I had talent but one day I did a self portrait. Somebody tossed me some highlighters and I colored it in, posted it on the internet and Johan said, ‘that’s it.’

“From there that was the genesis of the series of paintings. Johan taught me color scale, shades of red, shades of green, shades of blue that creates an atmosphere. Next thing you know, galleries were calling me in Germany saying we want your paintings over here.”

Be confident in your art identity, Tordhad said, because the art world is changing.

“Art shows must be different,” he said. “Art galleries are closing down because clients aren’t coming to galleries anymore to buy art. They are buying through the internet.”

Kordi has been asked to exhibit throughout the area, develop a painting video for YouTube, and with Tordhag will exhibit at an art expo in New York City.

“You have to be driven and you have to be motivated,” Tordhag said. “The thing with art, you don’t need any permit, any qualification, any certification, anybody can do it. You just need a little push, and a little bit of guidelines.”

Kordi wants to share how he became an artist and inspire others.

He hopes to visit a local prison to talk to inmates about putting their energy toward positive things, and lead art classes at Pathways. He is planning an art show fundraiser or “pop up gallery” at the high school to help motivate students to find their focus, have determination and passion, and persevere no matter what happens in their life.

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