Stroke of Fortune

Norwich Bulletin Press by Mitchell Polatin - 06/30/2000

norwich_06302000.jpgPatrick Ganino completed his first painting while a senior in high school. It was a self-portrait.

In it, he is standing by a pool table in a dark, narrow room with a bright red carpet. Behind him there is a door, slightly ajar, and through it one can see a black and white tile floor. Looking back, he recalls this early venture with an eager grin, pleased at how far he has come.

"Wow," he said. "I wasted a lot of paint on that."

Ganino, the founder of Creative Evolution, (, a decorative painting outfit in south-eastern Connecticut, concedes he was "never really into art all that much." In fact, in apparent reversal of fortune, he managed to turn a job into a hobby, then back into a job.

Ganino briefly attended art school in Boca Raton, Fla., before dropping out to help a friend paint murals.

"I hated it," he said. "We were all designing couches and stuff." It wasn't long until he discovered that painting murals could be both fun and a source of income.

"Well," he said, looking back on his days in Florida, "I'd never realized you could make money doing things like that."

Silver Lining
At age 19, Ganino was, as he describes, "just putzing around." However, things took a serious turn after his friend had a disagreement with the law. Ganino moved back to Connecticut, where he lives today with his wife and daughter.

His business, Creative Evolution, is thriving. There is a two-month wait for this services and word of mouth continues to increase demand in the area.

"It's awesome," he exclaims. "Forty hours a week sitting there pushing your pen. Who wants to do that?"

The only people happier than Ganino may be his customers. "I get to do everything," he says. "I get to be the sales person, the artist and the creator."

Ganino displays a youthful exuberance that, unlike in most businessman, seems to be genuine. That is because he loves his work.

He is 24, but looks younger. His black hair bends back off the top of his head, wind swept, as if he is perpetually riding in a convertible.

Ganino's first job came when he overheard workers at Bella Fiore restaurant [view] in Norwich discussing how they wanted a wall painted. He offered his services, and he was in business. The 22-foot mural of clouds and statues is still his favorite.

Word spread quickly, but Ganino had expected that. "If you work hard for people and do a good job," he explains, "they'll talk about you and refer you."

Ganino paints everything from customized faux finishes to detailed murals to vaulted ceilings. He portfolio, which he proudly carries around, displays an array or talents. But if a customer wants something that is not in his repertoire, it soon will be. Not only is Ganino willing to learn and experiment, but he enjoys it.

"If you fear things," he says, "then how are you ever going to do something like this? People feel that vibe from you, then you try to catch up with that confidence."

As Ganino sees it, the artist-customer relationship is extremely important.

"When people say, 'Hey I'd like a blue fish,' they're visualizing something different than I am. So," he explains, " I'd like to work with pictures."

Even though Ganino is a stickler for details - shadows make images look 3D, flowers jump off the wall - he works very quickly.

Happy guy
Ganino is far from a "tortured artist," and he doesn't want to be considered such. "I'm painting," he said, "and I'm having a blast. I don't have a great car. I don't need anything special. I'm having a great time."

Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown is Ganino's next stop. Over the course of three to four weeks he will highlight areas on raises wallpaper, a tough but gratifying job.

Ganino concedes that, at times, being your own boss can be difficult. Especially when the job is both physically and spiritually demanding.

One might envision Ganino's house as an extraordinarily colorful portfolio, but aside from a painting of Robert Dinero, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, there is little hint of his profession.

"It's hard to do things for yourself, when you're suppose to be doing them for other people," he said. "This job is hard. You put these extra hours in. I have times when things aren't going well, but all in all, this is my job."

Future plans
Eventually Ganino hopes to compile a book of his work with murals. He would also like to teach. Yet he continues to chase his dollar each day.

"You want to make sure you cover all ends," he said. "I'd like to be able to do this all over the country. I like painting and it's cool to paint, but I'd like to not have to do it for the money. It's a means to an end, ya know?"

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