While serving his time, Augie spent four nights a week as well as Saturdays and Sundays working on his oil paintings in a building in the prison complex called Hobbycraft. He completed some 400 paintings while incarcerated – a testament to what one can accomplish when one has a lot of time on his hands.
Augie generally paints on canvas surfaces stretched across wood frames. Occasionally while incarcerated, he painted on flat canvas panels and Masonite wood panels. Starting in 2014, he did some paintings on textured surfaces to give so them a rugged, fresco appearance. He paints the sides of all paintings, so framing is not necessary. The surface used is stated with each image.
Images shown on this website are photos of the actual paintings. However, the images do not necessarily reflect the actual size and proportions. The exact dimensions are stated under each image.
Augie Ghilarducci knows what it’s like to need a second opportunity; after owning and operating a successful financial planning firm for a number of years, he made a series of bad decisions that were contrary to his values, leading to him being convicted of white-collar crimes. He served 12 years in Minnesota’s federal prison system before returning to Chicago in July 2017.
To make sense of his experience, Augie used his time in prison to help others. Having been selected by the warden to participate in a community outreach program, he spoke about his ethical failures at high schools, colleges, universities, and businesses for almost a decade. He also developed various life-skills and employment-readiness programs that he taught to fellow inmates. When he was released, he turned his passion into a second career empowering those dealing with incarceration, addiction, trauma, loss, and other life-changing events to break the chains of the past and create a positive future.
As part of 2nd Opportunity, Augie now shares his proprietary programs five days a week in jails and prisons, substance abuse recovery centers, halfway houses, probation departments, workforce development organizations, and with at-risk youth groups. He has also been instrumental in making them available online, on tablets, and soon as part of a re-entry app.
Augie also developed a passion for painting while incarcerated. To help pass time, he bought some acrylic paints from a fellow inmate for $30 and started experimenting with them, but he hated it – the painted dried so fast that he had to keep remixing it, and he couldn’t get the colors to match. Just as he was about to give up, a guy who was leaving gave him his oil paints.
Right away, Augie enjoyed working with the slow drying and more dynamic colors and found painting a way to keep his mind engaged and explore a creative side he never knew existed.
Since finding references was a challenge and inmates didn’t have access to the Internet, he worked primarily out of magazines, painting landscapes, still life, and portraits on stretched canvas. He started doing everything in black and white in order to learn how to shade, and it took him about 100 paintings before they started to look decent. Having entered prison not being able to draw a stick figure, Augie built his confidence by accomplishing something he never thought possible. In all, he created some 400 paintings while behind bars.
Although he doesn’t have quite as much time on his hands these days, Augie continues to pursue his passion for painting while working to expand 2nd Opportunity’s program offerings and reach. He is currently an MBA candidate at Adams State University with a concentration in leadership, completing a program that he started via mail correspondence while incarcerated thanks to the encouragement and generosity of family and friends.
2nd Opportunity provides transformational programs and support to empower individuals struggling with incarceration, addiction, trauma, loss, and other life-changing setbacks to break the chains of the past and build a positive new future. Learn more about the work 2nd Opportunity does by visiting https://2ndopp.com/ and subscribing to our newsletter, where we share upcoming events, inspirational success stories, and insights into our programming.