Giving Back to the Community

When Nicholas was in high school, volunteer work was just a natural part of his life. His high school teacher, Brenda, did a wonderful job getting him out several times a week. One of his favorites was a local church that he vacuumed by Cuyahoga Falls High School.

When we moved, the first thing I discovered was the Deaf Outreach Church. It was like kismet! What a perfect place for him to do volunteer work. I sent them an email and received a immediate response for Nicholas & I to meet both of the Pastor’s of the church.

It will be 2 years soon since that wonderful day when we met the Pastor’s and the Deacons of the church. As you can see from the pictures, Nicholas is absolutely euphoric vacuuming their entire church! It has become our Monday morning gig. I am so proud of him for never once complaining and digging in as soon as we arrive! He never needs to be rewarded, he simply enjoys it for what it is.


The importance of props when selling artwork

I have been an on again off again hobbyist photographer for 13 years now. Through out this journey my interests have shifted excitedly between nature landscapes, macros, human and animal portraits, surreal photo manipulation, and even the macabre. I’ve explored outside my comfort zone and done the occasional wedding, senior photos, family portraits and product photography. No matter what my main passion has always centered around nature photography.

When I began shooting for NickMaxStudio, it was as if I were stretching muscles that had started to atrophy. Before I took this step, I was going through periods of time where my inspiration had completely vanished. The ideas that once sparked within me like fireworks had extinguished. One of largest contributing factors to my near total disinterest in photography was attempting to turn my favorite pastime into a career. As someone who is strongly introverted, this only served to induce a lot of anxiety. Consequently, what had once been a long loved hobby of self expression was then reduced to a source of apprehension and discomfort.



One of the reasons I love Nicholas’ artwork so much is that it inspires me in ways that I haven’t been in a long time. Everyone has their own unique story on what they see in his work. When I look at his paintings, my mind instantly clicks to nature scenes such as seascapes, landscapes, vast fields, and cyclones. As I see these images, I’m at ease. I begin to imagine what would complement these paintings. How about a vine of ivy? The pink blush of a stunning aloe? Or even the unusual tube like leaves from a golum jade plant? My love for nature and the scenes his paintings depict have created a harmony that I didn’t anticipate but am very grateful for.


Product photography is still somewhat new to me but I have found that props are about creating a mood. They can inspire someone to look at a painting as more than just a painting. What I try to do is set up a scene, that way it’s easier to imagine a piece of artwork in a persons home. It might even motivate someone to create a similar artistic set up of their own. There is really no end to what you can create and accomplish. The sky’s the limit.


When I decided to use props, I didn’t go out one day and buy a bunch of doodads. As it turns out, we already had plenty of props lying all over the house. You might come to realize that you do as well. I’m a great lover of collecting various stones and minerals. I keep them on my bookcases, by my houseplants, and even on my dresser. When I’m ever in a new place, I browse around vintage shops and buy items that grab my interest. Coincidentally, most of them go quite well with Nicholas’ paintings. My mom collects beautiful ceramics, glassware, and gorgeous fabrics that work brilliantly when setting up a scene. Not to mention that between my mom and I, we easily have 50+ succulents and houseplants all together.

Since the beginning of 2017, we have been discovering unknown territory within ourselves. Through brain storming and bouncing ideas off one another, we have been extending our imaginations in new and exciting ways. Watching Nicholas laugh and enjoy himself as he tries new things has been a huge motivator. When he’s happy, everybody’s happy. I only hope that I will continue to find ways to complement his work and give his paintings the kind of embellishments they deserve.

As Nicholas’ sister, I tend to gush about his work but I believe in him, in what we accomplish as a family, and in our ability to create beauty where there wasn’t before.

– Natasha

Read About the Benefits of Art Therapy

Creativity isn’t something that can be forced. It can motivate us when we least expect it. We find inspiration in all that is around us. In nature, in our community, in those we care about. In the events which move us and shake us to our foundation. Sometimes creativity is fueled by the darkness within ourselves. In the parts of us that make us vulnerable. It can reveal what we are unable to express with words alone.

My family and I have found that what fuels Nicholas’ drive to produce art is enthusiasm, curiosity, and watching others enjoy his finished creations. What more, he is continuously expanding his knowledge with fun and creative ideas so that he never loses interest in his work. There are several techniques that we practice with him while he paints that are more about creating an enjoyable experience than the painting itself.

Mixing acrylic paint – While mixing different color paints together, Nicholas appears to have an ASMR response. Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia.


Mixing paints is just one of the methods that can invoke this stimulating response. There are many video compilations available online that display mixing paints together while paired along with soothing music. In Nicholas’ case, when he watches someone mix paint in front of him, he becomes very focused and relaxed. This activity has been an excellent way of distracting him from what was bothering him at that moment.

Listening to music – While in Nicholas’ studio, we will often have music playing in the family room for some background noise. Some of his favorite music includes bands such as Rush, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Alicia Keys, Ja Rule, and the many pop bands from his childhood. Listening to music that is more upbeat always helps get the inspirations flowing.


Throwing paint – This is mostly just for fun but can also serve as a viable technique to improve upon an abstract painting. Allowing the brush to flick and throw paint at random can give a work of art new and surprising dimension. Nicholas finds throwing paint to be enjoyable as it always puts a smile on his face.


Using visual aids – Sometimes the best way for us to learn is through example. It’s not always easy to explain a new painting technique to someone with autism who cannot readily grasp the notion or they have auditory delays. In order to overcome this hurdle, we give Nicholas visual references in the interest of helping him experiment with different techniques. That way it is easier for him to mimic that specific style of artwork while improving upon it using his own methods.

Positive reinforcement and humor – What you should know about Nicholas is that he has a well-developed sense of humor. He loves to laugh, make comedic noises, and play pranks. What makes painting so much fun for him is the experience of interacting with us in his joking manner. He may not always fathom what we are saying but he can understand the positive tones in our voices. By reminding him of what a great job he’s doing and keeping up the pleasant vibes, he is getting a consistent stream of positive reinforcement.



“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” – Vincent van Gogh

Introduction to Nick Max Studio

Hello everyone!

To start off, I would like to thank those who have followed this blog so soon after its inception. We truly appreciate your interest and likes. I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce those who are involved with “Nick Max Studio” and to give you a brief explanation as to why we have decided to create this blog.

This is our way of recording Nicholas’ artistic endeavors and improvements over time while informing others of the mentally beneficial effects that art can have with those who are intellectually and/or developmentally disabled. It is our hope to not only to share Nicholas’ art with others, but to help those who wish to enrich the lives of those they care about.


Nicholas was initially introduced to painting by his former day program. After realizing the joy it brought him, our mother took the next step and set up an art studio with everything he would need. It’s incredible, watching what he creates and along with the gradual development of positive coping skills to fight against compulsive tendencies.


My name is Natasha and I’m Nicholas’ older sister. I contribute by using my skills as a photographer and am currently introducing myself to the world of graphic design. I will primarily be the one who will be keeping up with the blog and Etsy shop.


Our mother, Kathie, not only assists Nicholas with his paintings, but is a powerhouse of positive energy that fuels his inspiration. She is also in charge of marketing, organizing special orders, and sourcing supplies.

Soon we will be posting more back story in how Nicholas has discovered painting, how it has guided him down the path of recovering from a difficult transition, and the behavioral benefits it has had on him over a short period of time.

Thanks for reading!