I was recently interviewed by Will Kitson from Seymour magazine. Seymour Magazine is published by Seymour Projects, a Paris based Organization dedicated to creativity and self-expression. They have a special focus on Technology and how people connect and disconnect from technology a versus their own inner worlds.
The interview topics ranged over the Science inspiration behind some of my more abstract works and how my science background affects my artistic process to more general topics such as the benefits and pitfalls of being a “self-taught” artist. (but don’t we all learn almost everything through other people in one sense or another?). A number of my abstract Science-Art pieces are featured in the article, and you can see more of these pieces on The Nerdly Painter Website. The article is published online here.
In particular, I have found that a formal class in the basics of a new technique can be very helpful. I took an introductory Oil painting class when I had been working with oils for about a year. We learned some very useful things about how to mix, thin, thicken, dry and apply oil paint and were introduced to a few different approaches to creating a painting. It would have taken much longer to get a grip on all of the basic mechanics of oil painting and move on to developing artistic skill and a style as a pure autodidact. Once an artist understands how the materials work, and some basic ideas about light, shadow and form, there’s really very little benefit to pursuing class after class (in my opinion). It’s true that workshops may be a great way to meet people and make friends. However classes that try to address really detailed specific of artistic practice are often. I have seen many “Master classes” that arbitrarily elevate very “realistic” renderings over a deeper understanding of the power and potential of the medium.
The pieces they chose for the article include several Science Figure- inspired Drawings such as Entropic Repulsions (below) and Complex Fluid. Several paintings were also selected and featured.
Entropic Repulsions, Learning Circuit, Complex Fluid, Tunneling Regime and Transition to Chaos are all featured in the article.
There were some unique and interesting facets to the interview with Will Kitson, and the Seymour Magazine perspective. I have done a number of interviews about my art, but this is the first time I have really explored the process connection between art and science in an interview. There are a number of Art and Science parallels that i have often though about, and articulating them in an interview format proved very enlightening.
It was especially interesting to articulate how much a scientist’s approach to research and experimentation informs even my more “realist” Reinvented Landscape Art. Each landscape, seascape and tree form started as an idea that I wanted to explore.
Part of each painting’s idea was medium – what materials could be used to create which forms and effects?
Part of each idea was Aesthetic – how can I use my Materials Science knowledge base to extend the properties of a painting?
And part of each idea was conceptual – how do we “see” a landscape in a flat or semi-flat pattern of seemingly arbitrary colors areas and shapes?
As a scientist I know that the very simple picture of research and experimentation that we learn in Primary and Secondary school is a big oversimplification. We’re taught that a Scientist comes up with an hypothesis, formulates an experiment and control, then runs the experiment and control and compares the data. In reality there are often exploratory studies to get to the first testable hypothesis, and often several iterations of experimental design to find and control all the important variables.
In my Reinvented Landscapes, small abstract pieces and a lot of paint and media research (reading and testing) acted as exploratory studies. The knowledge of acrylic pains and media and the things that can be effectively mixed with acrylics allowed me to formulate a few ideas or “hypotheses” about what I wanted to try. Larger more complex Abstracts were early experiments to test hypotheses about media novel painting techniques and novel materials for mixed media.
Some of my “Tree of Life” series and some early Reinvented Landscapes acted almost as controls for the Abstract experiments. These more realistic pieces also allow me to test the perceptual aspect of my unusual approaches to paintings. If all you can see if a field of blue swirling fluid patterns, does that still look like water? If I incorporate some of the movement and transparency of water, the body and presence of a tree trunk, the light manipulating minerals in rock … does it still “read” as a landscape painting? What if I use Bits of material and the dimensionality of paint and media to stand in for the traditional painter’s marks? Painters’ marks stand in for the colors and shapes of the three dimensional world, projected on the plane. Can arbitrary pieces of material work as well as carefully placed marks? When dimensionality and REAL light movement are added back into a painting, is such a piece more “real” than photographic “realism”?
In a way I am still iterating through my Reinvented Landscape experiments, refining some ideas and discovering new ones to explore. I do believe that my hypothesis – a realer than realism can be created by using ALL of the properties of acrylics – has some validity, and I plan to continue testing it out.
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