Thursday, April 30, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Randal Huiskens

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Randal's painting, "Tiger No. 3" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Randal's DPW Gallery Page:

To create great Pop Art, you have to present something that has been seen before in a new way. It is this fundamental realization that has led my artwork to evolve from 19th century style Post Impressionism into 21st century individual expression. I am influenced by both Pop Artists and traditional Fine Artists. In the beginning, for me, there was Cezanne. I was captivated by his use of color, a melange of different shades and hues suggesting shadow and light on the simplest of flat surfaces. By combining this concept of color with the method of divisionism and the subjects of Pop Art, I feel I am merging two disparate types of art... creating Pop Art with a Fine Art sensibility. My influences include Henri Mattise, Chuck Close, Andy Warhol and Freek Drent. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I had been drawing with pencil ever since I can remember... by the time I started grade school, it was pretty well determined that I would be some sort of artist. I was always fascinated by color and paint. One day I took some model car paints, and did a painting on a sheet of paper. I only had a few colors, but it worked and I was hooked. Eventually, my parents bought me a set of acrylics and some canvas boards and I started doing some small paintings. In high school art class I experimented with oil paints, but I didn't like the need for solvents for cleaning, so I stuck with acrylics. In art school, I immediately chose painting as my major and it took off from there.

Tiger No. 3
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Randal's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I have been a painter since art school, but it only became a "career" in the last five years. When I first left art school, I had no idea how to actually make a living as an artist. I spent the first few years touring in punk bands, working a series of jobs before eventually settling into being a website developer and graphic designer. I continued to paint and create art during this period, but sales were few and far between. In 2010, I decided to really get serious about becoming a successful painter, and gave up all other pursuits to focus entirely on painting.  In 2013, I was able to close my web development business and make my living entirely by selling art.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have always liked to draw, doing layouts in pencils and finishing with pen and ink. For a long time, I wanted to be a comic book artist. In high school, I published and sold my own humor magazine, similar to National Lampoon, with comics and stories. Up until a few years ago, I was publishing comics online, but I took it all off of the web when I decided to focus entirely on painting. I have also done some sculpture over the years, clay modeling and "junk" sculpture. For a while I worked in an industrial furniture shop, assisting in the making of artistic furniture out of angle-irons, rebar and marble slabs. In the digital world, I am well versed with the Adobe Creative Suite (from the years spent as a graphic designer), as well as digital video production.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

It's all painting now. I used to go in a lot of different directions all at once; it wasn't until I focused entirely on painting that I was able to make a living at it. I still do some web development and graphic design, but it is all in the service of promoting my artwork.

Iggy Pop
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I wouldn't mind getting back into some sculpture, but it's not really on my radar at the moment.

Who or what inspires you most?

I don't really think in terms of "inspiration." Making art in one form or another is something I have always done, and it wouldn't be normal for me to not just do it. I can't really say what drives me to do it or what inspires me. I just get up every day and get to work. I think more in terms of influences... the artist Chuck Close is a big influence, you can see it in my work. Other influences are Andy Warhol and Netherlands artist Freek Drent.

Vase of Flowers
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I have never been a procrastinator. I have always preferred to get things done as directly as possible, and giving myself enough time to do it right. You only procrastinate with things you don't want to do, so I couldn't imagine procrastinating when it comes to painting. I work just about every day, so I never put it off.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I don't have a problem making time for art, I actually have a problem with making time for anything else. I try to be efficient as possible in everything I do so that I am not distracted by outside endeavors. When you are an artist, time is the most precious commodity.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I have a general idea of how I want my form of Pop Art to relate to the history of art and where the art world is early in the 21st century. Each painting is merely a piece in that larger vision, and the idea for each one is somewhat subservient to the overall vision. Of course, each painting needs to stand alone as well, and the idea for each individual painting just strikes me at a moment. It just pops into my head that this one idea will work. From that point on, that individual painting MUST be done.

Clint Eastwood
(click to see original image)

Can you elaborate on your overall vision? How does your artwork relate to the current state of the Art World?

Well, Pop Art has long been considered the unruly step-child of Fine Art, and certain people don't take it all that seriously. But I contend that Pop Art is, and will continue to be, the most important type of art at this point in time. No one likes art that needs to be explained to them, and Pop Art is accessible and relatable across the widest spectrum of people. Most people today look at a copy of Art News or Art In America, and think to themselves "why is this art? Why is this important? It looks like something a child did." If you've studied the history of art and followed the artistic trends, it might make sense, but most people just don't get it.

Pop Art, on the other hand, is immediate and relatable. People get it right away. So my goal is to take the artistic values of Fine Art and apply them to Pop Art. The modern concept of painting is that the painting is not an image on a canvas, the painting is the thing unto itself - it is not an image per say, but its value is that it is paint on a canvas. I am merging this concept with Pop Art. What I'm creating are art objects that adhere to the modern concept of Fine Art painting, using Pop Art as a motif. I am trying to state that Pop Art and Fine Art do not have to be at odds. Most Pop Art is about the image in the work. My Pop Art is about painting.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I do not consciously think about that. It would never occur to me that each new painting would not be as fresh as a new painting can be.  I have so many ideas for paintings in my head at any one time, it is more a matter of finding the time to create them. I do try to mix up the color palette as much as possible, and keep my eye out for subjects that fit within my overall vision, but that is more a matter of course. I would suppose that because each new painting presents new painting problems, solving those problems keeps the work fresh. I do have to step away from the easel and take some time off every now and then, but it isn't long before I am anxious to get back to work.

Clockwork Butterflies No. 9
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?
The business side of art. Of course, artists continually are learning about art with every piece they make. Now that I am making a living at it, learning about the art market is important to me right now. I have spent years running my own business as a web developer, but the business of art is a different animal. I am trying to figure out how to maintain my artistic vision and still pay the bills.

What makes you happiest about your art?

That I can make a living at it. It's kind of the goal of any artist, I would think. I know many artists who are very fine artists, but they all work a job and do art "on the side." I am very happy that I can get up every day and go to work at making art to the exclusion of any other career.

Thanks, Randal!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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