Tell us about your background.
I first studied art in the 70’s, when there were lots of interesting, contradictory forces, from academic drawing to minimalism. I tried a bit of everything including welding and guerilla art. I spent some time in London studying drawing and printmaking. I never studied painting formally, but that’s where I landed. Drawing has remained the most important piece.
Name some people, artists, artistic genres, etc. that have been influential in your work.
Surely all the images I’ve absorbed in my lifetime– from cave paintings to cartoons. I grew up with comics, Warner Brothers, and Mad Magazine, and with the darkly funny illustrations of Charles Addams and Edward Gorey– brilliant. I’ve always been drawn to mark and line– all that can be expressed in simple and direct ways of drawing. Folk art and “outsider” artists like James Castle are also on my list. But so is Cy Twombly.
Where and how do you get your ideas?
From the comedies and tragedies of everyday life.
What materials do you work with? Describe your technical processes.
Usually I use traditional drawing and painting materials– pencils and paint (acrylic or oil) on paper or wood. I work in a very direct way adding and subtracting, using a knife to layer up paint and a razor blade to scrape it away. I etch into the paint with a blade or sharp pencil, then scrape paint into the etched lines, kind of like inking an etching plate. Then I go back in and add line with a tiny brush. I also like to paint and animate everyday objects– in the folk art tradition– sticks, rocks, acorns, or draw on old postcards or discarded paper. But right now I seem to be using ink on vellum, just to revisit something I haven’t done in a long time.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being creative? What is the best part of being creative?
Since creativity is a natural part of being human, the challenge is to steer clear of the parts of modern life that threaten my humanity– traffic, banks, shopping malls, art openings. I go to nature whenever possible. The best part of being creative is forgetting what time it is.
What advice would you give to someone seeking advice about being an artist?
Find a separate way to make money. Find a few like minded friends to talk with about your life and your work, and take good care of them. Think of your work as lifelong, and be kind along the way. Don’t worry about it, just make things.
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