Thanks for visiting my website. I will be using text, audio, images, and video to share my story in the hopes that just maybe, you’ll better understand the genesis of my work and my path to becoming an artist.

I am both an abstract artist and an entrepreneur based in San Diego where I born and raised, watching my Dad mix and match paint as he owned and operated an auto body & paint shop for 47 years. In terms of the family business, like many sons, I wanted nothing to do with my Dad’s business. However; as it turns out, being drawn to paint was inescapable. Years ago, in the 80's-90's, for 12 years , I was a nightclub/concert/record promoter.   2 Video Links                 ( “Wild Kingdom” & “Colossus”)

I started painting murals and I would paint abstract murals in my nightclubs. I'd often rent a drab looking restaurant for the night, paint murals on white bed sheets with glow-in-the-dark paint, drape the walls with these bed sheet murals under black lights, and transform the total look of a boring restaurant. Then, I'd body paint go-go dancers to match the murals, dancing in front of the murals, the effects were awesome. I was a nightclub promoter for more than ten years, and back then, painting was just part of work for me. The murals went up and down every week. Each mural lasted a few months, then was simply tossed in the trash. Painting wasn't a regular activity I enjoyed until later in my life, in 2003, I started to enjoy painting for the first time. Painting was becoming fun as a pure hobby.

One afternoon, I was watching TV when I had a creative, and somewhat odd artistic idea on how to use my abstract painting to raise money for charities. This celebrity news TV show was covering a charity event produced by The Keep A Breast Foundation. At this event, they auctioned off plaster breast molds of various celebrities. Artists painted these plaster breast molds and then they sold at auction for $20,000-$40,000 each. After seeing this TV show, an idea light bulb went on, my gears were turning in amazement. I started to think about how I could do something similar as a painter, without the plaster molds. Remembering back to the days when I body painted the go-go dancers in my nightclubs, I wondered if I could create a unique work of art from painting onto a body, then stamping the body onto a canvas, kinda the same process without using plaster molds. Then I thought, what if I could paint a celebrity, and re-produce prints, selling the prints to their fan base and supporters of a good cause. I grabbed a pen and paper to run some numbers. I can't help it, the business side of my brain takes over sometimes.

Thinking… Let's see, how can I raise $1 million for a Charity? I'd need a celebrity, it was 2004, so I was thinking Carmen Elektra or Pamela Anderson, basically someone beautiful, who had a large fan base. I had heard Playboy would pay $100,000-$300,000 to a top model. My guess was I could get their attention with a business model able to produce a $1 million tax deductible donation to their favorite charity. I figured an original body stamp of a celebrity like Carmen Elektra could easily fetch $10,000-$30,000+. Then, to raise $1,000,000 we'd only need to sell 1,000 prints of the original at $1,000 each or 2,000 prints at $500 each. However we slice the numbers, the on-going sale of a celebrity body stamp artwork catalog could keep raising money for a charity year after year. This seemed logical to me. In one evening, a TV show had sparked the makings of the Million Dollar Plan for Charity. The only outstanding challenge was, I had never body stamped anyone ever before. As silly as you can imagine, I tried body stamping myself that night, it was hilarious, let's just say it didn't work out so well. I needed to paint on a model. But where was I going to find models?

I needed to prove whether or not this idea, this process would work to create artwork worthy of selling and raising money for a cause. The only way this Million Dollar Plan would work is if I was really able to create a work of art worthy of such an endeavor. Since I wasn't getting an appointment to paint Carmen Elektra or any other celebrity any time soon, I figured I'd place an ad on Craigslist. I offered an hourly rate, I had dozens of models apply. Sometimes I'd have the models meet me at my office. My business partners saw all the interviews I was doing, and they thought I was a total pervert. Of course they didn't initially understand the concept of my art, however, after they saw the final works I was producing, even my most skeptical critics conceded I was creating works worthy of being sold as artwork. Ok, I thought, first step accomplished. Now what?

Since the late 1980s, I'd say my biggest art influence came from the abstract work of Gerhard Richter. And my biggest art marketing influence came from Mark Kastabi. His approach to art was from the angle of being a great promoter, first and foremost. It's safe to say he believed in leveraged outsourcing with crazy over the top hype, and he’d tell people not to buy his art and his art sold more, of course.

As I expanded on my idea, I wanted to paint and sell my artwork online under a pseudonym, a secretly assumed name. I had this idea of creating a secret persona and changing the way I looked in pictures. To make the idea crazier, I was going to wear a ZZ Top style of long beard in all my pictures, so no one could recognize me. Truth is, I wanted to keep my artwork and my business life separate, because I knew at some point I'd be writing business book about my business life, under my given name. I just wanted to dip my toe in and see how this whole "art thing" would work out. So I just picked a name, Rick Bliss. The .com was available, so I used it. Plus, I knew there was already a famous South West Artist named Gilbert Ortega. My wife thinks it's cute that she gets called Mrs. Bliss at events, I like it too.

I started to research the internet to see if anyone else was body painting and body stamping, I found a few artists with much different styles. However, I found something very interesting, I found there was a famous French artist who invented body stamping in the 1960s. Yves Klein, who lived 1928-1962, was the artist who influenced the painting of the 007 golden woman in the 1960 movie, Goldfinger. Klein was an amazing artist. To date some of his work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After about a year of painting models and producing abstract body stamps, I was approached by a friend who owned a business where he produced live and silent auctions for charity events. He asked me if I'd be interested in selling my artwork at these these events. My knee jerk reaction was a state of shock. I quickly said yes, and then I got scared. I told him I had never sold any of my artwork. He was ok with it. He asked me if I had ever been to The Playboy Mansion. I had not. He invited me to a charity event at The Playboy Mansion where I could sell my artwork to help raise money.

The way it worked was that my artwork was listed for sale at a reserve price. I was to keep the reserve price, and the bid amount over the reserve price went to the charity. I loved this concept, and I loved the idea of getting my artwork in front of people for a good cause. Plus, I was getting invited to The Playboy Mansion. I brought two of my mounted prints for the silent auction. For some reason, I didn't feel comfortable bringing my original works. By the end of the night, I had sold both prints, a smaller one for $1,200 and a larger one for $1,800. My reserve price was only a few hundred dollars for each and I barely broke even on the cost to produce these mounted prints, however; at that point I could care less about making a profit. I was on cloud nine. Selling my work is always an amazing feeling, but the first time, was very special. A few months later, I was asked back to The Playboy Mansion.

This time however, it was for a different request. My friend not only asked me to bring more artwork for the silent auction, he wanted me to create a piece in a live painting exhibition. He wanted an exhibition that produced a piece of artwork for the live auction. His idea was, after I paint the model in front of the crowd, the body stamped canvas would be auctioned off live with a special addition, whoever bought the piece could get their own custom work done privately at their home, meaning, they could be painted as well. I had never been asked to paint in front of people. This time my knee jerk reaction was no, I couldn't do this. I wasn't going to paint in front of people. Keep in mind, I’m the painter who wants to be anonymous. I didn't understand how I could do this. I tried to envision myself painting live in front of people while wearing a huge beard. It was ridiculous and it scared the crap out of me. I spent a few days thinking about how I'd be able to pull this off. To make my decision even harder, the event was a Celebrity Charity Poker Event hosted by Kim Kardashian and this time, Hugh Hefner was going to be watching me paint live. I started to think I'd be a total pussy if I didn't step up to the opportunity before me. I also came to the realization I wasn't going to be wearing a ridiculous ZZ Top beard either.

This meant I would need to come out publicly as Rick Bliss. This also meant I'd need to learn how to paint in front of people, so I started inviting people to my studio to practice. By time the event came around, I was confident I'd deliver. The live auction produced a sale of my first original work and sold for $2,400. The strange thing was, my prints were selling for about the same price, I thought that was strange. After I finished the painting, I went backstage to clean up and my model stayed on stage. We were asked to go over and meet Hefner.

Thanks for visiting my website. I will be using text, audio, images, and video to share my story in the hopes that just maybe, you’ll better understand the genesis of my work and my path to becoming an artist.

I am both an abstract artist and an entrepreneur based in San Diego where I born and raised, watching my Dad mix and match paint as he owned and operated an auto body & paint shop for 47 years. In terms of the family business, like many sons, I wanted nothing to do with my Dad’s business. However; as it turns out, being drawn to paint was inescapable. Years ago, in the 80's-90's, for 12 years , I was a nightclub/concert/record promoter.   2 Video Links                 ( “Wild Kingdom” & “Colossus”)

I started painting murals and I would paint abstract murals in my nightclubs. I'd often rent a drab looking restaurant for the night, paint murals on white bed sheets with glow-in-the-dark paint, drape the walls with these bed sheet murals under black lights, and transform the total look of a boring restaurant. Then, I'd body paint go-go dancers to match the murals, dancing in front of the murals, the effects were awesome. I was a nightclub promoter for more than ten years, and back then, painting was just part of work for me. The murals went up and down every week. Each mural lasted a few months, then was simply tossed in the trash. Painting wasn't a regular activity I enjoyed until later in my life, in 2003, I started to enjoy painting for the first time. Painting was becoming fun as a pure hobby.

One afternoon, I was watching TV when I had a creative, and somewhat odd artistic idea on how to use my abstract painting to raise money for charities. This celebrity news TV show was covering a charity event produced by The Keep A Breast Foundation. At this event, they auctioned off plaster breast molds of various celebrities. Artists painted these plaster breast molds and then they sold at auction for $20,000-$40,000 each. After seeing this TV show, an idea light bulb went on, my gears were turning in amazement. I started to think about how I could do something similar as a painter, without the plaster molds. Remembering back to the days when I body painted the go-go dancers in my nightclubs, I wondered if I could create a unique work of art from painting onto a body, then stamping the body onto a canvas, kinda the same process without using plaster molds. Then I thought, what if I could paint a celebrity, and re-produce prints, selling the prints to their fan base and supporters of a good cause. I grabbed a pen and paper to run some numbers. I can't help it, the business side of my brain takes over sometimes.

Thinking… Let's see, how can I raise $1 million for a Charity? I'd need a celebrity, it was 2004, so I was thinking Carmen Elektra or Pamela Anderson, basically someone beautiful, who had a large fan base. I had heard Playboy would pay $100,000-$300,000 to a top model. My guess was I could get their attention with a business model able to produce a $1 million tax deductible donation to their favorite charity. I figured an original body stamp of a celebrity like Carmen Elektra could easily fetch $10,000-$30,000+. Then, to raise $1,000,000 we'd only need to sell 1,000 prints of the original at $1,000 each or 2,000 prints at $500 each. However we slice the numbers, the on-going sale of a celebrity body stamp artwork catalog could keep raising money for a charity year after year. This seemed logical to me. In one evening, a TV show had sparked the makings of the Million Dollar Plan for Charity. The only outstanding challenge was, I had never body stamped anyone ever before. As silly as you can imagine, I tried body stamping myself that night, it was hilarious, let's just say it didn't work out so well. I needed to paint on a model. But where was I going to find models?

I needed to prove whether or not this idea, this process would work to create artwork worthy of selling and raising money for a cause. The only way this Million Dollar Plan would work is if I was really able to create a work of art worthy of such an endeavor. Since I wasn't getting an appointment to paint Carmen Elektra or any other celebrity any time soon, I figured I'd place an ad on Craigslist. I offered an hourly rate, I had dozens of models apply. Sometimes I'd have the models meet me at my office. My business partners saw all the interviews I was doing, and they thought I was a total pervert. Of course they didn't initially understand the concept of my art, however, after they saw the final works I was producing, even my most skeptical critics conceded I was creating works worthy of being sold as artwork. Ok, I thought, first step accomplished. Now what?

Since the late 1980s, I'd say my biggest art influence came from the abstract work of Gerhard Richter. And my biggest art marketing influence came from Mark Kastabi. His approach to art was from the angle of being a great promoter, first and foremost. It's safe to say he believed in leveraged outsourcing with crazy over the top hype, and he’d tell people not to buy his art and his art sold more, of course.

As I expanded on my idea, I wanted to paint and sell my artwork online under a pseudonym, a secretly assumed name. I had this idea of creating a secret persona and changing the way I looked in pictures. To make the idea crazier, I was going to wear a ZZ Top style of long beard in all my pictures, so no one could recognize me. Truth is, I wanted to keep my artwork and my business life separate, because I knew at some point I'd be writing business book about my business life, under my given name. I just wanted to dip my toe in and see how this whole "art thing" would work out. So I just picked a name, Rick Bliss. The .com was available, so I used it. Plus, I knew there was already a famous South West Artist named Gilbert Ortega. My wife thinks it's cute that she gets called Mrs. Bliss at events, I like it too.

I started to research the internet to see if anyone else was body painting and body stamping, I found a few artists with much different styles. However, I found something very interesting, I found there was a famous French artist who invented body stamping in the 1960s. Yves Klein, who lived 1928-1962, was the artist who influenced the painting of the 007 golden woman in the 1960 movie, Goldfinger. Klein was an amazing artist. To date some of his work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After about a year of painting models and producing abstract body stamps, I was approached by a friend who owned a business where he produced live and silent auctions for charity events. He asked me if I'd be interested in selling my artwork at these these events. My knee jerk reaction was a state of shock. I quickly said yes, and then I got scared. I told him I had never sold any of my artwork. He was ok with it. He asked me if I had ever been to The Playboy Mansion. I had not. He invited me to a charity event at The Playboy Mansion where I could sell my artwork to help raise money.

The way it worked was that my artwork was listed for sale at a reserve price. I was to keep the reserve price, and the bid amount over the reserve price went to the charity. I loved this concept, and I loved the idea of getting my artwork in front of people for a good cause. Plus, I was getting invited to The Playboy Mansion. I brought two of my mounted prints for the silent auction. For some reason, I didn't feel comfortable bringing my original works. By the end of the night, I had sold both prints, a smaller one for $1,200 and a larger one for $1,800. My reserve price was only a few hundred dollars for each and I barely broke even on the cost to produce these mounted prints, however; at that point I could care less about making a profit. I was on cloud nine. Selling my work is always an amazing feeling, but the first time, was very special. A few months later, I was asked back to The Playboy Mansion.

This time however, it was for a different request. My friend not only asked me to bring more artwork for the silent auction, he wanted me to create a piece in a live painting exhibition. He wanted an exhibition that produced a piece of artwork for the live auction. His idea was, after I paint the model in front of the crowd, the body stamped canvas would be auctioned off live with a special addition, whoever bought the piece could get their own custom work done privately at their home, meaning, they could be painted as well. I had never been asked to paint in front of people. This time my knee jerk reaction was no, I couldn't do this. I wasn't going to paint in front of people. Keep in mind, I’m the painter who wants to be anonymous. I didn't understand how I could do this. I tried to envision myself painting live in front of people while wearing a huge beard. It was ridiculous and it scared the crap out of me. I spent a few days thinking about how I'd be able to pull this off. To make my decision even harder, the event was a Celebrity Charity Poker Event hosted by Kim Kardashian and this time, Hugh Hefner was going to be watching me paint live. I started to think I'd be a total pussy if I didn't step up to the opportunity before me. I also came to the realization I wasn't going to be wearing a ridiculous ZZ Top beard either.

This meant I would need to come out publicly as Rick Bliss. This also meant I'd need to learn how to paint in front of people, so I started inviting people to my studio to practice. By time the event came around, I was confident I'd deliver. The live auction produced a sale of my first original work and sold for $2,400. The strange thing was, my prints were selling for about the same price, I thought that was strange. After I finished the painting, I went backstage to clean up and my model stayed on stage. We were asked to go over and meet Hefner.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Keep in mind, her back was full of wet paint and as she met Hugh, he put his arm around her to take a picture together. After the picture, he noticed he had gotten wet paint all over his white jacket. So I like to think I indirectly painted Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Mansion.

Since that night, I've been back to The Playboy Mansion a half dozen times, sold many prints and painted live from that point forward. I'm sorry to say I didn't get a chance to pitch Kim Kardashian or any other celebrity on doing a painting for their charity of choice. I guess while I was running around, before and after, setting up my canvas, paints and prepping the model, I didn't really focus on a strategic approach to pitching them my Million Dollar Plan.

I'm happy to say, after that public exhibition, I started to paint live at many other events. I was invited to have my work in the silent charity auction at a 10,000 person black tie event called The Margarita Ball in Dallas. I sold ten prints that night. The following year I was asked to paint live at the event. This was a tall order as each year Michael Godard painted live and since he couldn't make the event, the event producers asked me to paint live. I painted an amazing model, Pilar Lastra, a Playmate who at the time was on the NBC show Deal or No Deal Game Show. Pilar is one of the sweetest, smartest, and most down to earth people you'll ever meet. Oh yeah, and did I mention she is a Playmate. She was actually contractually obligated to NBC at the time to do no nudity. The only bikini she had was made of a very thick, absorbent material and much bigger than I had hoped for. Adding paint on top of this material was not producing the desired result I was looking for. This was the first time I was in front of a huge crowd of people (10,000 people) and the finished work wasn’t turning out the way I wanted. With little to no planning, the final body stamps looked, hmm, just ok. (See Video on Homepage) I learned many great lessons that evening, overall, it was another great experience selling my artwork for charity. Over the years I've painted live at many events and sold hundred of pieces of artwork to benefit many different charities, it makes me feel good. I still haven’t painted a big celebrity yet, but who knows, one day I just might raise a million dollars for charity with a single work of art. I have a good feeling about it.

Painting is a passion I hope to have for the rest of my life. Thank God.

Keep in mind, her back was full of wet paint and as she met Hugh, he put his arm around her to take a picture together. After the picture, he noticed he had gotten wet paint all over his white jacket. So I like to think I indirectly painted Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Mansion.

Since that night, I've been back to The Playboy Mansion a half dozen times, sold many prints and painted live from that point forward. I'm sorry to say I didn't get a chance to pitch Kim Kardashian or any other celebrity on doing a painting for their charity of choice. I guess while I was running around, before and after, setting up my canvas, paints and prepping the model, I didn't really focus on a strategic approach to pitching them my Million Dollar Plan.

I'm happy to say, after that public exhibition, I started to paint live at many other events. I was invited to have my work in the silent charity auction at a 10,000 person black tie event called The Margarita Ball in Dallas. I sold ten prints that night. The following year I was asked to paint live at the event. This was a tall order as each year Michael Godard painted live and since he couldn't make the event, the event producers asked me to paint live. I painted an amazing model, Pilar Lastra, a Playmate who at the time was on the NBC show Deal or No Deal Game Show. Pilar is one of the sweetest, smartest, and most down to earth people you'll ever meet. Oh yeah, and did I mention she is a Playmate. She was actually contractually obligated to NBC at the time to do no nudity. The only bikini she had was made of a very thick, absorbent material and much bigger than I had hoped for. Adding paint on top of this material was not producing the desired result I was looking for. This was the first time I was in front of a huge crowd of people (10,000 people) and the finished work wasn’t turning out the way I wanted. With little to no planning, the final body stamps looked, hmm, just ok. (See Video on Homepage) I learned many great lessons that evening, overall, it was another great experience selling my artwork for charity. Over the years I've painted live at many events and sold hundred of pieces of artwork to benefit many different charities, it makes me feel good. I still haven’t painted a big celebrity yet, but who knows, one day I just might raise a million dollars for charity with a single work of art. I have a good feeling about it.

Painting is a passion I hope to have for the rest of my life. Thank God.

21+  Things About Me Not Everyone Knows

21+  Things About Me Not Everyone Knows

1) My given name is Gilbert Edward Ortega Jr. 

2) In Junior High School I got the nickname CHILI, because of my last name and later started a "CHILI" surfboards/clothing line.

3) I love trout fishing & playing chess.

4) My favorite music is Roots Reggae always + 50's Oldies, 70's Punk, 80's New Wave and 90's Hip Hop.

5) In Jr/High School I learned to Breakdance fairly well.

6) I had dinner with The Godfather of Soul James Brown.

7) The 1992 America's Cup Racing Yacht, after the big win, I drove/steered the authentic Stars & Stripes, underneath the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.

8) O.J. Simpson drove past me in his white Bronco before he got arrested.

9) I was shot at with a gun, randomly, by a thug during the L.A/Rodney King Riot - the scariest night of my life.

10) I grew up on a ranch until I was a teen, in (Jamul) rural San Diego with every conceivable farm animal in multiples.

11) Politically Independent, I’m fiscally conservative & socially liberal, a moderate Libertarian, with large informed opinions.

12) I took my first Entrepreneurship class in 10th grade, started my first business at 16 years old and operated it for 10+ years.

13) My favorite type of food is Mediterranean/Greek and Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is the  best food on earth.

14) I played and followed sports as a youth, however, now, I prefer to spend my free time painting or fishing.

15) I won $5,000 from The Wheel of Fortune for answering my phone when they called me.

16) I’m 5’4” ½ tall, however, my license says 5’5” because I’m an optimist. 

17) I read a ton, however, I’ve never read a novel or book of fiction completely, I prefer business books, how-to books, blogs and magazines.

18) I was a film student in College, I can spend the whole day watching movies, where did the good movies go...

19) I love gambling, but I’m not a high roller, I hate betting big and losing.

20) At the age of Thirty-Nine, I had a corneal transplant in one eye and need another in my second eye. I have the  degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus. Ironically, I was voted prettiest eyes in Junior High.

21) In 1987, I helped build the new Batmobile for Tim Burton's Batman movie with Michael Keaton.   

1) My given name is Gilbert Edward Ortega Jr. 

2) In Junior High School I got the nickname CHILI, because of my last name and later started a "CHILI" surfboards/clothing line.

3) I love trout fishing & playing chess.

4) My favorite music is Roots Reggae always + 50's Oldies, 70's Punk, 80's New Wave and 90's Hip Hop.

5) In Jr/High School I learned to Breakdance fairly well.

6) I had dinner with The Godfather of Soul James Brown.

7) The 1992 America's Cup Racing Yacht, after the big win, I drove/steered the authentic Stars & Stripes, underneath the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.

8) O.J. Simpson drove past me in his white Bronco before he got arrested.

9) I was shot at with a gun, randomly, by a thug during the L.A/Rodney King Riot - the scariest night of my life.

10) I grew up on a ranch until I was a teen, in (Jamul) rural San Diego with every conceivable farm animal in multiples.

11) Politically Independent, I’m fiscally conservative & socially liberal, a moderate Libertarian, with large informed opinions.

12) I took my first Entrepreneurship class in 10th grade, started my first business at 16 years old and operated it for 10+ years.

13) My favorite type of food is Mediterranean/Greek and Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is the  best food on earth.

14) I played and followed sports as a youth, however, now, I prefer to spend my free time painting or fishing.

15) I won $5,000 from The Wheel of Fortune for answering my phone when they called me.

16) I’m 5’4” ½ tall, however, my license says 5’5” because I’m an optimist. 

17) I read a ton, however, I’ve never read a novel or book of fiction completely, I prefer business books, how-to books, blogs and magazines.

18) I was a film student in College, I can spend the whole day watching movies, where did the good movies go...

19) I love gambling, but I’m not a high roller, I hate betting big and losing.

20) At the age of Thirty-Nine, I had a corneal transplant in one eye and need another in my second eye. I have the  degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus. Ironically, I was voted prettiest eyes in Junior High.

21) In 1987, I helped build the new Batmobile for Tim Burton's Batman movie with Michael Keaton.   

____________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________