Ian Matthew Glass is a self-taught painter who lives in Mobile, Alabama. Matthew started painting in 2011. His style appears to be a modern take of Egyptian art with influences from cubism and abstract expressionism.
1) What is your earliest memory of creating art? At what point did you decide to be an artist? Why did you make that decision?
I would draw for hours at a time when I was very young. But as a teenager I picked up the guitar and really didn't get serious with art until I was an adult.
2) What is the main obsession you have with creating? What is the essence that you are trying to depict or convey in your artwork? What is the meaning of your art?
My only directive is to change. Every painting is a success as long as I continue on. The meaning for me, is to find a reason to live, for others I think there can be many things that can be taken away, that is up to the viewer.
3) What are some of the major influences that you felt from famous artists?
At the beginning I was unaware of most of the movements that now influence my work. But the more I painted, the more I expanded my knowledge of art history. I am inspired by the modern art movement, and the 1950's and 1980's New York movement.
4) Tell us about your dreams that you've had (while sleeping) that sometimes influence your art.
My dreams have led me to ideas that would have not become a part of my work otherwise. I usually have vivid dreams, and I remember long pieces of dialogue within a dream. The conversations often change the way I work so that things continue to change.
5) What are some of your frustrations with being an artist? What needs to be changed?
Most of my frustrations come from other things in my life, not from art. I love painting, even when I am uncertain and anxious.
6) Is your art related in any way to your life and your experiences? Tell us your story.
Yes, everything is related. But I think more than anything, my psychological life plays the biggest role. What I am exactly is a mystery to me, and I like that to be present in what I create.
7) What are your hopes and aspirations? Where would you like to be in the next 20 years?
At this point, I just want to wake up and paint as much as I can. I don't imagine myself in 20 years. But I do hope that I learn how to enjoy life in the future.
Ryan Demaree is a painter who lives in Toronto, Canada. He started painting in 2006. His style appears to be a modern take of surrealism mixed with pasty impasto and expressionist style.
1) What is your earliest memory of creating art? At what point did you decide to be an artist? Why did you make that decision?
I mean I did a lot of stuff growing up. I remember as a kid I used to draw monsters and dinosaurs a lot. I decided to take it seriously when I was about 18 years old (around 2009). I was really good at it and I figured it was enjoyable.
2) What is the main obsession that you have with creating? What is the essence that you are trying to depict or convey in your artwork? What is the meaning of your art?
I just really like creating things to be honest. I know I am good at it, and it is like a release. Usually the real personal imagery .... surreal personal imagery is the essence that I am trying to convey in my work. Usually I latch onto icons (like dinosaurs or asteroid or ape) and manipulate them in certain way to show an idea in my head. Whatever that is on the dinosaur's head, inside the nest, is the dinosaur's thoughts. The nest is like a brain, and whatever is the idea is in the nest coming out of it. I usually use dinosaurs a lot because they are gone and out of view, and they used to dominate the planet. It's like a mythical being that we knew were there, but we don't have a video record of them.
3) What do you admire about Salvador Dali? What did you learn from trying to reproduce his paintings?
He's definitely in my top three painters - Dali, van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock - for me. Dali was technically the most skilled painter ever, in my opinion. The way he manipulated the imagery and the icons was very fascinating because it's similar to the work that I do now. You can say the same thing about Rene Magritte.
I learned... just the discipline of the technical aspect painting... the discipline getting into the mindset of that painting. It's extremely technical and difficult. Also I learned to understand the history of painting. There's a lot that you learn from it. Also just getting into Dali's mind is like knowing one of best painters of our time... on technical and conceptual level as well.
4) Do you identify with the cavemen and dinosaurs in your paintings? If so why?
Yeah I would say so. I don't know. It's kind of like an outsider feel. The idea is to relate to Dali in a certain extent. I have learned a lot from it. A lot of stuff I worked with is very primitive and creature-like.
5) Tell us about your experiments and research with vintage paint and pigments. Has this knowledge and practice given you an edge as an artist? How?
I've researched medieval and renaissance paintings a lot. Recently I've had more experience studying 19th century art materials. For instance I own 4 tubes of genuine emerald green, and I have done tests on them - lightfastness, reactivity, transparency, and permanence. Same thing with mummy brown, except I had to recreate it basically using cow flesh and resin.
It just helps me understand the history of color and painting. With the paintings that I am trying to do now ... some of it makes a difference with the materials that I use. In some instance, knowing the materials can affect the outcome. These pigments, such emerald green, mummy brown, and Tyrian purple, can be very toxic and mostly are out of reach in current times.
6) What do you think about conceptual art? Has it benefited our modern society and culture, or made it digress in some ways?
I am not a fan of it overall... I think art after abstract expressionism in the 1950s has been degenerate and not contributing much. Most of it is very empty, stolen imagery... most of it is wishy washy nonsense. Most of it is very politically and socially active... a lot of it is not technically skilled and disciplined. It's too wishy washy. There is Yoko Onno having an exhibition where she is screaming into a microphone, or poop inside can, or Jeff Koon's balloons. It's all for shock and show. I say this as a painter. It doesn't work for me.
7) What are your hopes and aspirations? Where would you like to be in the next 20 years?
I just would like to make a decent living from what I do. And if I can gain any fame or notoriety from that, it would be great. But generally I would just like to do what I like and make a decent living from it.
Sarah McKinnon will be a student at the School of Visual Arts this fall, for a B.F.A. in Film and a concentration in Directing. Her many talents include videography, screenwriting, acting, and cinematography with specialization in graphic design and photography.
In high school, Sarah won multiple awards in her digital production department and also graduated a year early due to academic excellence. Sarah has given speeches and assisted teaching classes on various elements of narrative storytelling and the digital editing processes. She is a two-time winner of SkillsUSA’s Gold TV Production Award.
McKinnon has had the opportunity to travel abroad and pursue higher education in filmmaking and digital media editing. She also has placed in many writing competitions and film festivals across the nation and is currently developing her soon-to-be-released memoir, “The Highly Functional.” McKinnon is employed by Hidden Kingdom Entertainment, a production company based in the UK, and spends her free time freelancing.
1) So what do you consider to be your main area of artistic pursuit and endeavor? Do you have a particular field of activity that you consider to be the essence of your artistic persona?
At a very young age due to various issues I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. It ultimately makes me feel detached from the world. Conjuring up basic emotions was a challenge, and something I still meditate through today.
However, when I watched a movie, it somehow resonated with me. I was able to feel the core human emotions stronger than ever. It is not only a pure escape for my body and mind works as a chapel would to another. Every time I artistically craft something in that aspect, or in a film, it's like I'm strengthening a part of who I am.
2) Have dialogues or conversations occurred among your works, be they photography, graphic design, or film, and if so what did you gain from such feedback between the many disciplines that you practice?
The work I create every day is a correlation between the conversations and people I met and will meet. Perhaps a single word, a glimpse of something or someone can create an entirely new idea. This is the life of an artist. We are always remastering and changing a single point of view to make people see a bigger picture. Perhaps the hardest conversation and "constructive" criticism I've received was "What is the point of your work? Why is film even relevant in our culture? Becoming a filmmaker and isn't saving lives or helping science. It's selfish." Naturally, I respond with this: Some careers help us stay alive and healthy. Other jobs, such as artists, make our lives worth living, and sometimes that's stronger than the first.
3) Please tell us about concept art. What do you try to achieve in concept art, and how does it assist the process of film production or product design?
The power of concept art should never be underestimated in the entertainment industry. It's what I started with when I first embarked on the journey of becoming a filmmaker. Before I self-taught myself screenwriting, and was at the beginning stages of camera work, I had all these ideas bursting around my head - it drove me crazy. I needed a way to get my visions tangible. If you are an artist, you've been called many things - crazy included.
But one thing is certain: you are one of the few that can craft a vision. A real image. - As if you're pulling another dimension out of thin air and construct it in your mind. So for free, I started making concept art images. It helped me practice, but in a few short days, other screenwriters would be receiving emails asking for information or positions. Ultimately concept art and design in production helps make a cohesive bond between all artists of different disciplines and to see a vision.
4) If it's the beauty or the essence that a painter is trying to depict in his work, what do you think is the main obsession that you have with creating in your multi-disciplinary endeavor? Does it have to do with the human drama, finding meaning in our lives, or depicting the female perspective? Tell us more!
My generation and those who will be behind us are growing up in a non-tangible four-dimensional world. By that, I am referencing to technology. Everything we do is staged and perfected. However, as a side-effect of this, we have become more aware as human beings. While we are more conscious of our flaws, many of us are trying to tear away labels and build a new culture - which is so inspiring and amazing. Many who have an enormous artistic presence, especially on social media, are claiming titles of becoming activists, which is very important, they like myself want to make a change towards something better.
As a child, I was bullied, like many others - this isn't uncommon, nor does it make me special. But it was a path I was meant to walk. Every day I see people struggle, like untold stories, unheard voices. I pursued film because I want to make those people seen and heard. I want to give a voice to those that can't speak. As a woman, I am determined to become one of the few female directors. Not because I'm trying to kick against the grain but show all young women that it's possible to be a voice in our society today, regardless of the circumstances. I want to be an activist. Not for a certain cause, but for human beings - and I want that to be clear in all the artwork I do.
5) One last question. What are your ultimate goals and dreams as an artist? Where would you like to be in the next 20 years?
There is a common misconception that if you want to go into the entertainment industry, you want to be "rich and famous." While this may be a motivation for some, it is not mine. Like anyone with a dream, I want to be successful. I want to create films that people quote years from now as a part of our culture. I want to help change lives through my craft, and impact my following in the most positive way possible. I want women, and young girls see that they are powerful and strong. I want to rip away the labels we place on each other. But most importantly, if I can help at least one person with my art, then I am successful.
Sabrina Puppin is currently an MFA student at the School of Visual Arts and works as a teacher assistant in the Fine Arts department. She was born in Aviano, Italy, and is now living the "American Dream" of living and working in New York City. Her works are diverse and vary across disciplines and the types of medium, including "drawing, painting, photography, installation, and sculpture." Her earlier works were paintings that were realistic and pointillist in approach and therefore very time consuming, while her later works are more spontaneous and involve accidental discovery and experimentation with the abstract colors and forms. According to Sabrina, her recent works aim "to eliminate any recognizable forms to leave the viewers exposed to the visual power and intoxicating effects of color." Her recent work investigates the nature of reality, posing the question on whether there is a common ground to the reality experienced by individuals or not.
1) Although you do not believe in the existence of God, is there something that you think that objectively determines what is real, or is there no such thing?
It's all very personal. Each of us has our own reality and determines our own reality. What is real for me may not be real for you. Do we all see the same telephone, or is this telephone different to each person who observes it? It has nothing to do with supernatural power. I believe it is very personal. Here in New York City, everywhere I go I see abstraction. The question is why do I see them and others don't see them? I try to translate these visions, these abstractions that I see, into the studio, into my work.
2) Tell us how you arrived at the current body of work in fluidic and geometric abstraction in painting and sculpture.
I started with painting. It was just the painting. As you see they are colorful and shiny, and there are many things going on that overwhelm you when you see them, but then they pull you in. And somehow I felt like it was my American Dream. Colorful, shiny, big, lot of things overwhelm you and pull you in. While doing my work, I thought about how people started to read my paintings in different ways. And I asked, "Is that what I want - to have everyone see something else?" I decided that I wanted people to see just the colors but not forms. I've been trying to eliminate form, or the readable form... but it's practically impossible because anywhere you drop color you would get a form. So I came to the point where I started to say that the only way to eliminate form is to paint monochromatic. At that point, I started to create geometric shapes that I got from scraps that I collected around, and I still painted monochromatic but I composed the shape in a composition. That's how I came to the three dimensional work. It's still a process in development. In the sculptures there are still forms, but it was somehow a way to reconstruct from a point where I didn't know how to come out. When I came to it, a monochromatic canvas, I had to find a way to come out, or else it wouldn't be finished. With reconstruction with shape but painted in a monochromatic way it was way for me to come out. But, yes, in sculpture there are forms.
3) Do you think perhaps everyone has their unique perspective that is very personal about what's real and what they perceive, and maybe all that range of perceptions exists on a bell curve? Perhaps, based on what it actually is, people experience the "thing" in different ways, but there is a statistical distribution of all those experiences, and there will be more of certain experiences and less of other experiences? The one that is closest to the actual thing would be most common, perhaps?
I understand what you want to say, but what is the actual thing? You mean by actual thing something that is real, but is it real the same way for everybody? So, there may be a way that a majority of people see very closely together, and some will see differently based on a different culture or education. I want to stress that my investigation of reality is rather scientific because I want to know what people see with their eyes, or what I see what my eyes. Or even a different way to see things. For example, we walk in New York and you look at a building, and I might see a reflection of something else on the window and I see abstraction. So this is the sort of distorted reality. Why do you see the building and I see something else? But in reality I believe that it is the building for everybody. This can be reconnected to the American Dream and be political as well.
4) What do you think about how on Facebook and social networking sites people try to spread fake news and try to control the reality? How does your work relate to that?
Well, I never went so far. I see the problem of all this social media and way to contact people everywhere in the world... when people spread alternative facts... can change the reality for the people. Not the reality because a fact is a fact, but the perception can change. The reality, the fact, is a fact.
5) So you agree or think that what exists is real but we don't have a good way to objectively confirm that it is real, right?
6) So what are your next steps in terms of exploring the concept of perception of reality in your work? Would you get more political or more abstract?
Well, I believe that my painting will be very abstract for few years. In a few years I would know. But the process in the thinking may change. I am still fascinated with playing with distorted reality. That's what I do with photography. I take pictures of real things and distort them. With painting, at the moment, I am trying to push my limits. I tend to be too colorful and really shiny, but I like the precision of the work. I want to see if I can be less precise or leave parts of the sculpture especially not finished or just how I found them to see where I can go with that. It's more of at an experimental stage of using media without manipulating them too much from what I am looking at. So it's not so much thinking about distorted reality... The distorted reality will be continued with photography because with photography I can record what I see around the world when I am walking and sometimes I like it as it is and sometimes I try to distort it more. But with painting at the moment, I am at the stage of technical and material experimentation.
7) So which mediums do you find most versatile?
For about four to five years, I have been using a mix of glass and ceramic paint. And that's the only paint that I use. I like to work with them because they are colorful and shiny. Also because by learning how to mix them I learn to create effects that I cannot achieve with other kinds of media. I experiment with the support - where do I paint and how is it different to paint on metal or on wood with this kind of media? It's this kind of experimentation. I am trying every possible surface.
8) You seem to have a really strong perception of color. So what is the process of putting down colors in your work?
When I do work, I don't have in mind the painting that I am going to do already. I just decide on the size and shape of canvas and take out all my colors. And from there I start with one and keep going with how the color gets applied on the canvas and how it's spread. And then at that point I decide now I should go with this other color. So it's really a process that is not something that I think of or plan beforehand. With the media that I use there is that 10% chance of not controlling the color - there is 10% chance that the color will do what it wants. And they mix in certain ways that I cannot control. I like that 10%, 15 -20% chance of what's going to happen.
9) Who are the favorite artists that have influenced you a lot?
Normally what I like is reading their interviews, their voice and what they say. And most of all I like it when they say "You have to look at my paintings. I am not able to put words on my paintings." There was that one interview with Matisse who said "I cannot talk about my work. The reason why I painted is because I cannot talk about it."
10) What genre of painting do you consider your work to be?
It can be read in many different ways. Abstract, abstract expressionism... because of free ways of applying the color. It can be hyper abstraction because of the big size and color that is shiny - it's all hyper. With sculpture than I am doing now I am looking at Kandinsky and Russian constructivism because I realize they are very similar and it's a way to reconstruct. I try to see whether their idea of reconstruction coincides with mine but so far I didn't find any... only similarities in what the work looks like from the outside but not in the development of the work. There are many contemporaries that have similarities in the final appearance but not the process.
11) Can you tell us about your earlier works and how you came to your current style?
For about 30 years or more I've been painting realistic - very realistic portraits of women and only women. I don't know why but it may have been a stage where I was learning technique and art history. I was concerned about the representation of women. And I only painted in black and white, never colorful. And when I did realistic painting, I couldn't do abstraction. I used a technique that was very tedious and took hundreds of hours because I made portraits by applying little dots next to other ones, and it was a kind of like meditation. I couldn't do abstraction because I didn't know what I should do and I gave up. And at some point, I needed to take a break from art for 3 years due to my taking up a very demanding job, and when I returned to painting, I started making abstract works and never went back.