Thursday, December 2, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Greg Known

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Greg's painting "Walk Across the Sky" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Greg's DPW Gallery Page:

Greg Known is a 53 year- old Russian Artist.

He graduated from the graphics design faculty in 1991.

But it wasn't until 5 years ago, in 2016, when he returned to what he truly loves : painting.

Now Greg is fully devoted to his art and aims to share it with the world.

Influence : Fantasy, Symbolism, Surrealism, Steampunk...

(click to view gallery)

What did you want to be growing up?

From early childhood, as far as I can remember, I loved to draw. And when I was a schoolboy, I entered the Children's Art School. I finished it "on time", as adolescence began. I wanted to explore more, communicate with peers, which I did in high school. Drawing at this time was not at all the main occupation for me.

When did your artistic journey begin?

When I was finishing school, the question arose before me - where to continue to study? By this time, my level as an artist was not up to par. It was affected by the break time in drawing classes. Nevertheless, I entered the Art and Graphics Faculty of the Pedagogical University in Moscow. Studying in it, and the formation of an artist in me were not smooth. After the first year, I was drafted into the Army, where I served for 2 years. After that I had to recover at the institute. The feeling was as if I had stayed for the 2nd year in the same class. But gradually interest and creativity returned.

Walk Across the Sky
(click to view)

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

Did you have long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

By the last year at the university, I had a new interest in life. It was associated with spiritual and religious pursuits. Unfortunately, there was no place for painting and drawing during this period. I left my creative work for a very long time.

Before speaking about the return to creativity, I would like to note that the ability to look and remember is very important in the creative process itself. In the years when I did not paint, I nevertheless visited museums and exhibitions, read a lot about art. All this formed artistic images in my soul... Which I could not implement at that time. Perhaps these images and ideas accumulated in me during my life, and at some point could not be retained inside me, in my consciousness, in my heart. And at that moment I again realized the need and desire to paint.

Illusion Maker
(click to view)

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal? 

When I was studying at the Art University, in those years the choice of materials for painting and drawing was very limited. There were traditional paints, oils and watercolors, gouache and pastels. Acrylic paints appeared on the market much later. Therefore, I am used to expressing my creative inspiration through the materials that are most familiar to me. And in this area I do not really like to experiment. For me, the oil painting technique is closest. But at the same time, when I had to work on traditional Orthodox icons - I gradually mastered the icon painting technique.

These are natural pigments mixed on egg yolk. And the work with pigments takes place on the surface of the board with gesso. This is a very special feeling. The clarity of the line, contours, is combined with the smoothness of the transition, very restrained in color of the paints. This is a special topic and I can talk a lot about it. Nowadays, many icons are painted with acrylic paints, and they are good at it. But traditional technique is close to me. At the same time, while writing icons, I encountered an obstacle that did not allow me to fully express myself. For an icon, these restrictions are correct; there should be no accident in it. But for the artist's realization this may not seem enough. And then oil paint and canvas came to my aid again.

Perpetuum Mobile
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

In part, I have already answered this question. I devoted most of my life to religion and it took place in the Church environment. Therefore, when the art of painting appeared, I first of all turned to the religious theme, to the icon. But gradually, at first in parallel, and then independently, I began to paint. Since the main thing in the icon is the image, the image of a person, then in painting this is the most important thing for me. This does not mean that I do not like landscape or still life. Rather, I perceive them as a subsidiary genre. The image of this world, the image of a person living in this world, their relationship. These are probably the most important themes in my work.

Name an artist (or artists), well known or not, you admire. Why?

This question puzzled me a little. For some reason I have never singled out any of the artists. If I liked the Impressionists, then I liked one of them, and others. So it is in other directions, surrealism, favism. I cannot say that this artist is my favorite and he is the best. I think this is a simplification, and we draw inspiration not from someone specific, but from many at once. Perhaps I am like a bee, flying from flower to flower, collecting nectar from each of them, and then mixing it all together.

Kyber Landscape
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self - what would that be?

Life is so unique, beautiful, amazing, mysterious, complex, and at the same time it is very short-lived. Therefore, one should not treat it superficially, one should cherish, appreciate it and not waste time on secondary and insignificant things.

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

Indeed, creativity requires concentration. Perhaps some loneliness and isolation. I can't combine full-fledged communication with friends and others and painting. This communication takes me entirely and there is no room for creativity. So I have to separate them. To engage in creativity, I, as far as I can, retire, moving away from unnecessary contacts. I try to keep my attention and not be distracted by others.

Adam and Eve
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

For me, this is prayer. When it's hard, I pray. It helps me, brings me out of a state of self-pity and narcissism. It gives me strength and self-confidence. Fills my inner world with content. There is a lot of chaos and disorder in our ordinary life. In an ordinary state, our consciousness is also chaotic, it is a heap of random ideas and images. Putting everything in order, highlighting the main thing and focusing on it is very difficult. Meditation helps me.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

I am paraphrasing the well-known saying: "I think, therefore I am." For me it will be like this: I am immersed in the creative process - it means I live. Therefore, the goal both for the near future and for the future, for me, is immersion in life, and hence creativity. Immersion is as complete as possible.

Accidental Parting
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

I am very wary of success. We all know how success comes quickly, but then it can disappear just as quickly. Yesterday the name thundered, today can be consigned to oblivion. Therefore, I think it is not necessary to specifically waste your time and energy on this. Success came or left, a person should remain himself and mind his own business.

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

I didn't think about it. Perhaps, today, I could say that I am happy when I see in some Churches, icons created by me, as well as, in one of them, a wall painting. I had the same feeling when a friend sent photos of my paintings sold to his friends, framed and placed in their house. It is a good feeling that what I am doing is meaningful not only for me, but also for others.

Reflection
(click to view)

Thanks, Greg!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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