Monday, June 14, 2010

David Clark: Artist Interview — Flow and Control Show

 Flow Series: Red Arrow #8
36" X 12" X 3"
Cast and poured wax on panel

Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?  Sure. I'm 44 and live in Palm Springs California. I was born in England and grew up in the United States. My mother is an artist and my stepmother was also, so I grew up mixing paints, stretching canvas and seeing lots of art. I've painted my whole life, but I began my creative life as an actor. I started working when I was really young, then went to N.Y.U. for acting. And doing theater and television commercials were my bread and butter through most of my twenties. I worked with some really amazing artists like Travis Preston, Peter Sellars and Robert Wilson, and a highlight of my theater career was getting booed off the stage at La Scala on my 21st birthday. That was a defining moment for me. Once you've been booed by 3000 people, nothing frightens you. 

After leaving my acting career I went to work in television production, and I worked on the production staff of "Sex & the City" for six years as executive producer Michael Patrick King's assistant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something creatively that was both such a joy to work on and received so well by the public. So after that job I thought, well, it's not going to get better than this in TV, so I retired from that and started painting full time. And that was three years ago. I told myself, I would give myself two years of working without showing anything to anyone and if after that point I thought the work had merit, I would start showing it to people. And that was last May when I went up to Wax Works West to take a workshop with Rodney Thompson. It was the first time I had shared any of my work with anyone other than my husband. 

Color Palette for Flow Series

Please describe bit about your work in general—what is it about, your process. Right now, my work is about colors and symbols. And I use a lot of found objects in my work. I'm inspired by them. It's a nostalgia thing. The history of the object, or the symbol or the idea, and then taking it and suspending it, or sealing it in wax. Or giving it a different context. And of course Red Arrows have been a fixture in my work since the beginning, and most people want to know what they are all about. For me the Red Arrow has a personal significance which I relate to a point of departure, a sense of movement, of direction. I am inspired by it, because it represents a place in my history as a creative person where anything is possible, where any idea can be realized in whatever form without judgement and without limits. So, it's a powerful symbol for me. A talisman even, and it's always coming up in my work. 

 David in front of his "Working Wall"

How many of the Encaustic Conferences at Montserrat have you attended? - This is my first Encaustic Conference at Montserrat. I learned about it last year from Judy, Wendy and Daniella at Wax Works West. I'm very excited to be going, and I'm really honored to be part of the juried show. 

Did you create this work specifically for this juried show?  I did. I really took Joanne, Joseph and Maggie's challenge seriously. That is, to create new work for the show. I had been thinking for awhile about doing some pieces with cast wax, and a few years ago I had been experimenting with doing dripped oil paintings, but they never panned out. So I went back to the idea of dripping, but with wax this time. And I knew I somehow wanted to incorporate different technical aspects of working with the medium in the work, and I decided to do a whole series inspired by the idea of flow and control, both in it's concrete and abstract sense. I incorporated brushed, dripped and cast wax into most of the pieces I made. And, I knew I wanted to work with color. 

In my practice, up until January, color took a bit of a backseat in most of my work. I'd buy color, lots of it, but I'd never use it. I had all of this paint and I thought well, where would I go with this? What does the idea of flow and control mean to me. I mean, it obviously had me thinking about the physical properties of the medium, but creatively it had me thinking about the abstract ideas of flow and control in my own practice, and that's really where the jumping off point was for me. One would say my work up until that point had been very meditative and restrained, controlled even. So I thought, well, let's have a little bit more flow creatively. Don't be so careful. Be messy. Throw the paint around a bit. Risk wasting it. Risk it being a mess. 

The resulting pieces are a success for me more in that they reflect my internal battle with the abstract idea of flow and control in my own work. And of course I knew that there would be arrows involved, and I kept thinking well, the Red Arrow has always been a point of departure for me, a point of inspiration, of possibility, and I thought the color should come from them. So, that's where it started, and ironically the first piece I made was the one they chose for the show. The pieces evolved from there, but maybe the first impulse was the strongest. I've made 7 pieces so far in this series, and they'll be more, so I thank Joanne Mattera, Joseph Carroll and Maggie Cavallo for inspiring me and throwing the guantlet down, so to speak, to push the envelope and create new work. 

What is your workspace like? I work in the garage of our house. It's my studio now. It's cold in the winter and hot in the summer and I have lots of crickets watching me work. I love it. It's my place.

Do you have other jobs other than making art? Right now my job is to make art. That's what I do. I work every day whether it's actually in my studio making work, making presentation boxes and cataloging work or working on my website. I'm lucky to have worked as an actor for many years, because it teaches you discipline. Your job is finding work as an actor, and being an artist is about showing up everyday and doing it. Making something. So it's important for me to try and do as much as I can everyday. 

Do you have a web site/blog etc. you'd like to share? I do. I have a website It's still a work in progress. Photographing the work and putting it online continues to be one of the most difficult parts of my practice. Trying to balance the photos correctly and size them and have the images pop online. It's a battle for me.
Thank you David!


5x7 collage picture frames said...

I like the idea of the red arrow I see it as a positive moving forward object. Having your own studio set up must be fantastic ( I am a slight pale green colour.) :)


Laura Tyler said...

I covet David's palette. Seriously.