Issue 3: Matthew
Where did you get the inspiration from to create self-portraits?
Self-portraits allow me to study someone who I have become highly familiar with. The clothes he wears changes, he shows up in different places, and the way he looks changes a bit when we meet. I know that I can find him anytime that I want, all I must do is find something which has the power of reflection. Overall, I would say that my self-portraits are a pursuit to understand oneself, to figure out who this man is I’m in constant interaction with and making decisions for.
Do you feel that it is important that artists learn realism before learning other styles of art?
I believe that an artist should follow whatever path calls to them. When I came to college to study art, some of my favorite artists were the ones who learned all there was to know about naturalism and then moved on from there. Because of this I also wanted to learn to draw naturalistically, so that I could one day have that in my back pocket and feel secure with entering what we consider abstraction or surrealism.
What does realism mean to you?
It’s common knowledge that our eyes see the world upside down, and then our brain interprets this visual as being right-side up. That said, I don’t believe that what one may consider “realism” is as black and white as we may believe. When you focus on something, does it not seem to appear larger? And doesn’t everything else around seem to fade away? I believe that drawing things “proportionally” or “symmetrically” is often confused for what we mean when we say that we are drawing “realistically.” For me, drawing realistically takes into account the way in which we experience said things.
How do you incorporate realism into abstract art that you make?
I’ve grown fond of working with ready-made objects; as in, things in which I didn’t change, or if I did very slightly. I have a recent work which I have titled “self-portrait.” It’s a plank of wood which I have placed in a chair so it appears to be sitting upright as a human would. The next thing I did was find some old clothes to change into before putting my own clothes onto the wooden board. It interested me how I could draw a self-portrait with charcoal and chalk on paper, and I could also dress a piece of wood in my usual outfit, and nonetheless they both work perfectly as self-portraits for who I am.
When did you first begin sculpting and why?
My interest in sculpture really came when I had my first semester of Figure Sculpture with my mentor Jeremy Davis. I had already had experience in Figure Drawing at this point, and after I started sculpting, I began to realize that if you are going to focus on studying figurative artwork it is good to do it both two and three dimensionally, they are mutually beneficial to one another. Also, at this point of being primarily a drawer and a painter, I found it refreshing to work with my hands, building with wood, metal, and clay. It was much more hands on than the other art I felt I was making at the time. When creating a drawing you are mostly touching the pencil or charcoal stick, but with the sculpture you are interacting with the very artwork itself.
What is some advice you can give to new up and coming artists?
Your life is the artwork, and the painting or sculpture is proof that it happened, and at the same time an expression of the soul. Always stay true to yourself and create only for your own need, letting the audience become secondary. The artwork is meant to be for yourself first and foremost.
Where do you see yourself taking your art in the future?
I don’t usually think about the future too much; I want my artwork to surprise me.
Though I will say that whatever the future holds for me, my aim is to keep being around the artwork of others, to continue to train my eye and sense of personal aesthetic, to further study the theory of different artists and to develop my own methods for understanding the world.
Currently I teach art at Art Reach of Mid-Michigan. It has been one of my dreams to teach art, I’m looking to further my education so that one day I may teach on a university level.
When creating a new piece, where or what do you start from?
Lately I’ve been painting over older work. In this way I get to see the painting progress further; I believe that this makes the paintings journey to completion more valuable. I take full advantage of the original work that the new painting (or simply the next layer) is built upon, I don’t just erase the layer below. In fact, I believe to start with an older work one should highlight these different layers in order to show the connection between past and present. It’s interesting to me how the painting isn’t made by one person, it’s made by multiple versions of oneself, each working together through different instances in time.
Does music help you find ideas to create a piece?
I wouldn’t say so. I enjoy painting in silence, I also enjoy painting with music. The kind of music I put on might be of a similar mood to the one which I am conveying in the painting, but I wouldn’t say that it is really having an influence on the piece. If anything, I believe that tempo (regardless of the type of music) has more influence on the work than the music, as it sometimes changes whether I am choosing to work slowly or quickly.
You have told me that you like to DJ, do you feel that you could incorporate art into your style of music?
Personally, I don’t find much sense in trying to mix the two, I enjoy both on their own. I will say though that I believe I enjoy DJing for the same reason that I enjoy painting or drawing, because it’s the act of creation; and excitement and enjoyment that comes from making many small decisions which, over time, result in one’s own unique style. I enjoy the act of self-expression in multiple forms, and I believe DJing as a medium allows for plenty of experimentation and growth, like in my artwork.