Monday, March 26, 2012

A Conversation With David Galchutt

"working her red pumps"

Looking at the artwork of  David Galchutt, an artist from Signal Hill, California, is like stepping into a fairytale filled with elegant figures, beautiful colors, delicate decorative elements and touches of whimsical humor. Galchutt was awarded the 2010 award for Best Children's Magazine Illustration (Ages 9-11) by the Association of Educational Publishers. He took time out of his schedule to talk with ArtSeen about his artwork and his inspirations.

Can you tell us a little about your artwork, artistic process, and what types of artistic materials you use?

I'm pretty conventional in my processes.  When I graduated from art school (Art Center College of Design in Pasadena) I painted in gouache and occasionally in egg tempera.  I switched to watercolor when my children's book was to be published.  I had to do many images in a short time and watercolor was the most expedient medium for that.  I continued to paint primarily in watercolor for the next 20 or so years but I never really liked the limitations of the color range.  4 or 5 years ago, in total frustration and weariness/boredom with that medium, I started to experiment with oils.  I love the luxury of painting with them.  The slower drying time and the range of color has been most gratifying.

I am endlessly doodling.  This, primarily, is where my ideas come from.  I sort of go into a semi trance and I let the ideas flow quickly.... it is sort of difficult to explain (or to put into words) this process.  These are always quick thumbnails done in ball point pen on Xerox paper.  Dozens of them may produce one or two images that I might want to pursue.  From there I Xerox the thumbnail up to the size that I want to work and then I refine/fix/change it onto tissue paper. I then do many color sketches in marker.  I like to explore several color options.  I then transfer the drawing onto prepared masonite panels.  I have found that using traditional, old school gesso (rabbit skin glue, chalk dust, etc. mixed with warm water) is the best ground to paint on.  I never use acrylic gesso.  It is a rather laborious process of layering 8 coats of gesso, waiting for them to dry between coats and sanding but the result is much more satisfying.  I do not like working on canvas... the texture is too rough and I don't like the "bounce" of the stretched fabric.  From there I pretty much work in a traditional manner... putting down a neutral glaze over the entire surface and then building up the layers of color over that.

"cat fight"

What inspires you as an artist?

Many things inspire.  It can be another artist's work, an unusual color combination, nature, architecture, costume, most anything that is old.  You just never know when you see something that can set off an idea in your head.

"robotic uprising"

Why do you create art?

It is a compulsion.  I fervently believe we each are endowed with gifts from God and I guess this happens to be what I’ve been put here to do.

"cosmic angel"

What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore within in your artwork?

My parents are both artists.  They met at Chouinard Art Institute in the 1950's.  My dad worked as a graphic designer and my mom studied costume design.  They were tremendously helpful to me growing up.  I am influenced by both of them.  I love good, strong graphic imagery and I love working costume into my work.

I enjoy trying to bring a somewhat different point of view to my imagery. When I approach a subject, I ask myself "what can I do here that is different or unique".  I tend to stylize and not paint realistically.  I especially love depicting people.  They are endlessly fascinating to me.  I also enjoy bringing something old or historic into my pictures, be it a costume or a bit of a graphic element.  Reinterpreting something old makes me happy.

I am not an artist that wishes to do something socially or politically "significant".  I’ll leave that to others.

"from the garden"

Are there any artists that inspire you? If so who would they be and why?

So many artists have inspired.
Here is a partial list of very divergent artists in no particular order....

Vermeer, Modigliani, Grant Wood, Gustav Klimt, Mary Blair, Seymour Chwast, Gennady Spirin, Leo and Diane Dillon, Edward Gorey, Van Eyck, Toulouse Lautrec, Tony Duquette, Dorothy Jeakins (Hollywood costume designer), Gaugin, Mark Ryden, medieval art and sculpture, William Morris, John Singer Sargent, Kestutis Kasparavicius, the architects Greene and Greene.

Each of these artists brings their own voice to what they created.  They are originals.

" the conspiracy"

What do you want viewers to walk away with when they view your artwork?

It would be very gratifying if I were able to inspire a viewer to look at things differently.  If I could prompt a smile or to amuse someone or bring a bit of beauty into their lives... that would make me very happy.
And finally, what advice would you give to other artists?

Be unique.  Be you.  Work steadily and hone your craft.  Go to a good art school that stresses the fundamentals.  Once you have the fundamentals under your belt you have the tools to be who you need to be.  Bring something different to the table.


For more information about Galchutt and his artwork you can visit his website, Etsy store and Facebook page for details. You can also follows him on Twitter as well.

All artwork provided by David Galchutt.


Lisa Graham said...

I am so happy I found your blog via @soniabublaitis on Twitter. She shared your interview with David who I was already following on there, but had not really looked at his works closely until now. What a great post and interview. Your blog has all kinds of goodies.

Greetings from Wichita, Kansas!

Shawn Daniell said...

Thank you for stopping by! Love your artwork!

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