I thought it would be fun to write a short Q&A about the “Eyes To Feed” exhibition at Positive Directions based on some of the frequently asked questions that everyone asked me on Friday. Enjoy…
EYES TO FEED Q&A
How long did it take you to paint all of these paintings?
I created 35 new paintings over a 6 week period. The rest of the paintings are leftovers from 2015. I tried to paint every single day but sometimes freelance illustration projects or other less glamorous distractions got in the way.
I like your portraits more than this stuff you’re doing now. When are you going to paint portraits again?
Well… I still draw / paint plenty of portraits but they are created on a computer using Manga Studio 5 and Adobe Photoshop instead of paint on wood. You can buy prints of those portraits on my Crated store at http://crated.com/dustinparker. I’m not against painting portraits again but I don’t have any plans to exhibit any digital illustrations or portrait paintings any time soon. I’m perfectly happy doing what I’m doing at the moment. But I’m known to change my mind.
What inspired you to become an abstract painter?
I think I always felt a yearning to be an abstract painter but I always felt the need to prove that I could draw or paint. It took me a long time to feel confident enough to fully embrace abstraction and not use portraiture as a shield or crutch or whatever. I am attracted to abstraction because it feels good. It feels like freedom. It allows me to paint with the least amount of intellectual interference. I don’t need a photo reference or a model. I can just paint. I can throw paint or drip paint or roll paint. I want painting to be about painting and not about something else. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to manipulate materials. I want to play with colors and textures and patterns. I don’t want to make any political or social statements. I just want a primal experience. The challenge and the thrill of abstraction is that I begin the process without an end destination in mind. I have no clue where the journey will take me and there is great joy in not knowing where the creative process will steer me. I like the unpredictable nature of abstraction.
Describe your creative process?
I start by pasting several layers of found paper on the panel using acrylic matte medium. The bottom layer is usually comprised of old comic books from the 1980s or 1970s that I find in bargain bins at the comic book store. I like using older comics because the paper has aged and the cheaper paper they used back then is better suited for the way I use collage. I like the way the paper looks and feels. I like how the paper takes paint. The new comics are glossy and the paper is higher quality and the paint just sits on top of the paper. I also like to use maps, sheet music, crossword puzzles, diagrams, blueprints, gift wrap tissue, decorative papers, old wallpaper, anatomical illustrations, graph paper, newspapers and science textbooks. But I probably favor using old comic books. Once the matte medium dries I will start to apply paint using brushes, paint rollers, old credit cards, knives or my hands. There is usually an excessive amount of masking tape involved in the process. I like to mask off areas to create lines, rectangles, triangles and other geometric shapes. Sometimes I allow the panel composition on the comic book pages dictate the composition of the painting. I like to use grids in my paintings and the comics often become a guide for how I layout the painting or what type of shapes I create. I keep repeating this process of adding and subtracting paper and paint until the painting “feels” finished. I just listen to my gut. I let my gut make the final decision. I try to leave my brain out of it.
Why do you use collage?
I like the texture of paper. I like how the images, words and patterns printed on the paper will peek through the layers of paint. I enjoy adding and removing layers of paper. I like hunting for paper. I like cutting paper. I think the paper adds another layer of unpredictability. For example, in the painting “Black Rabbit” I pasted the cover to Marvel Comics Presents #78 on the panel and covered it with black paint but you can still see bits and pieces of the image showing through the black paint. It created this really amazing texture that I would never have achieved with just paint alone.
Who are the artists that influenced your work?
I think Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Rauschenberg are the most obvious influences but I would also throw in Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Michael Cutlip, Nicholas Wilton, Charles Baughman, Curt Clonts and many many others.
How do you title your paintings?
Sometimes I consult a thesaurus and find an unusual word. Sometimes I use song lyrics or titles. Sometimes I use words or phrases that are on the painting. Sometimes I pretend that the painting is a Rorschach test. Sometimes I pull titles from an old sketchbook full of title ideas and quotes that I have collected over the years. Sometimes I try to describe how the painting makes me feel.
Does your work as an illustrator influence your abstract paintings?
Yes! They both influence each other. I would argue that my digital illustrations and my paintings share the same skeleton but they wear slightly different skins. They share the same DNA. The creative process is very similar. But the digital illustrations have a very clear destination. If I draw David Bowie the final product needs to be immediately recognizable as David Bowie. But if you removed David Bowie from the illustration what is left behind looks very similar to my abstract paintings. I enjoy doing both and I enjoy going back and forth. It keeps things fresh and interesting and keeps the creative burnout at bay.
What are you doing next?
I’m going to take a brief break from painting to focus on some personal illustration projects and comic book ideas that have been brewing in my brain for a very long time. I have some more art show shenanigans in the works but it is too early to make any official announcements yet.