Through his work, no matter the material, he has the innate ability to collect stories and capture moments. His unique style is found in repurposed interior and exterior design, photography, canvass painting, and even blending the natural landscape on pieces of furniture in the middle of a desolate highway.
And he believes his creativity is due to divine guidance – or a “genie” to keep it spiritually ambiguous.
“I’ve picked up things over time,” he said. “There’s such a childlike idealism in me that has turned into a childlike realism.”
Though he doesn’t have a traditional background in art, some of his inspiration stems from the appreciation he has for quality art in a variety of settings, sometimes unconventional.
Once a rising star in the skateboarding scene, Norton began noticing photographic opportunities in the sport, from an athlete’s trick to the concrete curves of the park. That recognition stayed apparent in everything as he acquired odd jobs while traveling the country.
Then, in his late 30s, a mental “crash” took place and unlocked a stream of creativity that had been gathering in his head for decades. It was a moment that presented the opportunity for growth, and opened a world of metaphors and philosophy.
“Since this crash, all I can say is the light started to come on,” he said. “When I started getting shot out of this creative canon, I just sit there going: how would I know how to do this?”
The versatile artist is drawn to a project and there is meaning in every detail, whether that be personal or for who commissioned the work – or for whom he thought needed a piece of art.
For his exterior design, he decorates and paints murals as property barriers, lays distinctive walking paths, and builds gates, fountains and retaining walls. He places design elements and sculptures to landscaping, as well.
Norton also designs furniture and uses a variety of materials. He fabricates bed frames made of repurposed wooden pallets – like a fallen tree given new meaning, as Norton views it – and coffee tables from recycled steel. His “relationship series” combines materials and even features end tables that can sit apart or rejoin to form one piece.
“I’m not a perfectionist, but in modern engineering, you start with things perfect, at least your points,” he said. “I see things like my sculpture and furniture, this crazy balance, things that shouldn’t be held that are, and that’s how I feel my life was.”
His post-crash renaissance especially translates to the canvas. Norton’s painting style lies somewhere between impressionism, modernism and futurism. It’s fast, colorful and full of interpretation and literal and figurative reflection.
He said, “Through the things I’ve gone through, my life is better; it’s happier. I communicate with myself, and it’s in every painting.”
He also sometimes triggers an emotional response from the people who receive his work because he adds sentimental details only obvious to the recipient.
In addition, Norton leaves his own personalization on each work in the form of a scribble, which he always titles “Petition The Warden,” and says it’s “an analogy about language.”
“I’ve had to translate that scribble into a language,” he said. “It’s about growing, it’s about being reconditioned.”
One of the more incredible aspects to his overall cross-genre style is an urge to stop on the road, pull out a piece of furniture, and paint the landscape on it. With perfect timing, angles and exposure, he camouflages the object with the backdrop.
Metaphorically, his talent is always on display, even if initially concealed.
Art is a calling for Norton, but he waits for it to call him. He doesn’t force the moment, he captures it when it connects.
He explained, “The magnets start to touch or they will never touch. If you’re thinking too much … that’s the magnets not touching.”
Through each project, each commissioned work, he’s not just encapsulating a moment, he’s forming his own collection – one that is therapeutic, beyond unique and of quality. One that holds together a bigger picture.
“The growing process, the karmic conditions in this is acceptance. My life isn’t about art,” he said. “I’m a student on a spiritual path.”