After doing hundreds of drawings and creating a large roadside mural, an artist from Lafitte, Louisiana is hoping he’s found a new career. But it didn’t come easy for Vincent Ochello, Sr., who spent years behind bars developing his skills as an artist.
Vincent Ochello says he has been drawing pictures since he was four years old. He started with swamp scenes around his hometown of Lafitte. Ochello recalls his first drawing, “I drew a picture of my daddy taking me duck hunting. My mama said it looked so good. And it inspired me to want to keep drawing.”
lafitte artist is perfectionist
Ochello creates realistic looking black and white pencil sketches. As he leans over his drawing table, Ochello rubs graphite onto a pencil tip and slowlyu shades the skin of a woman’s portrait he is working on. “You gotta do a little at a time,” he explains. When you look at Ochello’s drawings and compare it to the original photograph he is using as a guide, it’s hard to tell the difference. Ochello explains that he is a perfectionist, “My best is never good enough,” he says. Adding, “I keep trying to get better and better.”
Lafitte artist featured on tv
a bad decision leads to prison
Ochello says he was working as a carpenter 20 years ago when his life took a bad turn. He says he got involved in drugs and he got arrested and went to prison. “And I did 13 years for aggravated burglary for knocking on the door and punching a dude in the face,” Ochello says, “and they gave me 15 years for it.” During his time in prison, Ochello says he drew constantly, sometimes eight to ten hours a day. “If you don’t occupy this,” he says pointing to his head, “then it’s gonna kill you. You’re not gonna make it”. Ochello credits his drawings with saving his life.
a big break – a roadside mural
More than four years after his prison release, Ochello was asked to paint a mural on an 80-foot-long metal fence at Griffin’s Fishing Charters and Lodge in Lafitte. When he agreed to do the mural, Ochello admits he had never painted anything in his life. He credits his faith with guiding him through the process. “I prayed to God and he showed me how to paint everything,” he said. “You just gotta believe.” The mural, painted during the extreme heat of summer, contains the wildlife, trees, grasses and wildflowers of the nearby marshes.