Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Conversation With Courtney Blazon

"Newly Rich" Pen and Marker on Paper, 22" x 30", 2012

What strikes me the most about Courtney Blazon's artwork is the many layers of meaning that they evoke. Blazon, an artist from Montana, creates beautiful illustrative narratives with a focus on inter-connectivity. Blazon spoke with ArtSeen about her artwork and her artistic processes.

Can you tell us a little about your artwork, artistic background, and artistic processes?

I have drawn as long as I was able to hold a drawing implement. My style has always been very strongly developed with an emphasis on a kind of realism. I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the freedom of SMFA gave me the opportunity to start to explore some of the narrative themes that I still explore a decade later. After SMFA, I attended Parsons School of Design where I studied illustration. My time at Parsons helped me develop a more business minded approach to art; making and selling, and this has helped me make a career of my art.

My artwork is rooted in the natural, the real, and the historical. My drawings are often combinations of elements from many different references mixed together into a cohesive narrative.

I have always been a drawer, not a painter, and have used many different tools: charcoal, pencil, colored pencil, and oil pastel. For the past six years, I have used, almost exclusively, pen and marker. I find it to be very malleable and painterly.

"The Ethical Culture School of Disappointment Island" Pen and Marker on Paper               36" x 48", 2012

What inspires you as an artist? Why do you create art?

I don't know what I would do or who I would be without drawing. It is an essential part of my waking and sleeping life. I create art because if I did not, I would probably be a neurotic bundle of nerves. I create it for the joy it gives me. I am grateful that I can create it and have it be my sole source of income. 

I find inspiration in almost anything. I am an artist who doesn't wait for the "muse" to strike. Rather, I seek out inspiration in all things. Living in Montana may seem like a cultural black hole but it offers up much inspiration for my drawings in its natural beauty and its proximity to nature's beasts.

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

I think that the major theme in all my artwork is what I see as the inter-connectedness of all things. That all stories, real and imagined, are woven from the same fabric and all that fabric needs is some new stitching to make new connections.

I like combinations of history and fables together, of science interwoven with fairytales.

"Frog Prince, Slime is Your House" Pen and Marker on Paper, 15" x 23", 2012

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

I love the Pre-Raphaelite painters, like John Everett Millais, and those influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, like JW Waterhouse. I love the artists of the Golden Age of Illustration (like Edmund Dulac, Virginia Frances Sterrett). I am in awe of Persian miniature paintings and illuminated manuscripts. I loved what John James Audobon did for the art of natural science art.

For contemporary artists, I love Walton Ford, Amy Cutler, and Chris Berens. What I feel all these artists have in common is their great sense of narrative and the ability to transport the viewer into another world.

What do you think the role of the artist is?

I think that the role of the artist is to listen to their true voice and to make work from their inner voice, not the outer noise. I understand that outer noise is part of all of our experience but it must be filtered from within, not from the outside. The "eye" inside should be the guiding light for an artist.

"The Harrowing Story of Child Miners in the Early 1900s" Pen on Paper, 32" x 40", 2012

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

I want the viewer to see the complexity of the ideas I am weaving together in my drawings without needing the viewer to understand completely what my true meaning was. I think that if the viewer can feel something, be it positive or negative, then my work has done its job.

And finally, what advice would you give to other artists?

My advice is similar to what I think the role of an artist is. That is, listen to your own voice. Don't make artwork that is reflective of other contemporary artist's visions, but make art that is reflective of your internal vision.

Also, working hard and making your art all the time is the surest way to succeed and to get better at your craft. Carve out a name for yourself by showing up on time, making all your meetings, keeping dedicated hours, and being a professional.

"L'Enigme des Enfants-Loups" Pen and Marker on Paper, 9.5" x 9.5",  2012

For more information about Blazon and her artwork, you can visit her website and Facebook page for more details. 

All images provided by Courtney Blazon.

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