Friday, April 2, 2010

All Art Friday Special Edition: Artist Interview

All Art Friday Special Edition
Interview with Painter Randall David Tipton
Part 2

The need to make a mark is primal 
and the practice, deeply satisfying.
~ Randall David Tipton

Last week, I posted Part 1 of a two-part interview with the accomplished painter Randall David Tipton. Today, I present Part 2. Enjoy!

Maureen Doallas: You paint as small as 8 inches to the side and as large as 60 inches. Your smaller work, it seems to me, has a deeply intimate quality to it. Yet, I think also of what you achieved last month when you painted Salmon River Estuary — you said you had a Chinese scroll in mind — and marvel at the feeling of instant recognition it creates. What are the particular challenges of painting small versus painting large?

Randall David Tipton: Absolutely everything counts in a small work. It's a paradox but to achieve anything fresh requires me to paint and re-paint until a certain correctness happens. It can be exhausting and feel foolish. So much angst for something so tiny! Larger paintings are more forgiving. With them, mistakes can even enliven rather than compromise the pieces.

MD: You keep images of all your work on your computer hard drive, and note that this is both advantage and drawback, because it "allows for endless reconsideration and revision". How many images do you estimate you have? Do you keep process photos or just images of "finished" work? How often do you go back to the images to re-think a work and then revise it?

RDT: Yes, this can get obsessive. My studio is small and nearly impossible to back up in. I've found that looking at the photos on the monitor allows for a different perspective that's mostly helpful. I do think this [looking again at photos of my work] has made me a better painter. I catch small problems that when fixed improve the paintings. The downside is an unsuccessful painting is not allowed a decent burial. I'll haul it out again and again, certain I'll solve the matter. Often, [that's] a waste of time.

I have several thousand images of my own work, finished and in process, and about six thousand of other painters' work. This is a wonderful thing. I reference those files all the time and find camaraderie with artists I'll never know.

MD: How necessary is it for you to paint in solitude?

RDT: I do need a degree of solitude to work, but not complete [solitude] by any means. I usually answer the phone, listen to the radio, or stream something through the computer. When my concentration is focused, however, I don't hear much of it. The camaraderie I feel when I look at the work of others is profound. Throughout human history, people have been doing this, the celebrated and the unknown. The need to make a mark is primal and the practice, deeply satisfying. What company I keep!

MD: You have some experience teaching art. What did you learn from that experience that you've incorporated in your approach to your art?

RDT: It's been 10 years since I last taught and I honestly don't remember, though I recall being surprised by the things I said, by my conviction.

MD: Which artists are among your favorites, and why?

RDT: Bonnard, for his utter generosity. He gives the viewer so much! De Kooning, for his skillful audacity. The Canadian landscape painter Gregory Hardy, for his vast lonely spaces. Sophie Jodoin, another Canadian, who works with dark themes in an incredibly sensitive manner. Dana Roberts of San Juan Island; I think she's one of our country's finest — her work is pure poetry. Winslow Homer, for his watercolors. Joan Mitchell, for reasons I can't articulate. I could go on and on. I look at a lot of art.

Pictured: Fog on Mountain 2, oil on canvas, 40"x30".
© Randall David Tipton.
Image courtesy of artist. All Rights Reserved.

MD: If I recall correctly, Migration Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the first to show your work on the East Coast. Do you have other gallery representation?

RDT: I had shown briefly in Philadelphia years ago. I do have a couple of representatives on the West Coast.

MD: Any upcoming exhibitions?

RDT: Yes, at the WhiteBird Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon, opening May 1.

[Randall's new paintings are part of WhiteBird's Spring Unveiling. The exhibition runs through June 15.]

MD: One of nine in an applicant pool of 90, you were accepted and recently completed a one-month artist residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, Oregon, a gorgeous location at Cascade Head with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Your time there, judging from the paintings you completed, was enormously productive. Did you have in mind particular goals that you wanted to reach? What has that residency meant to your growth as an artist?

RDT: It's too soon to tell [about the residency's effects]. The project I went to work on did not turn out as I had hoped but it did trigger some new ideas.

MD: How do you market yourself as an artist? Do you use any social media other than your Website and blog and your presence on to promote your work?

RDT: I have a wary relationship with marketing. Yes, I want to sell, and yes, I enjoy the appreciation of what I do. But I have only so much energy. I'd rather be a good painter than a good promoter. So, to answer your question: No, I don't use social media for the promotion of my work. That creeps me out. I'm too neurotic to market myself well but I'm open to suggestions!

MD: What is the price range of your art? How do you decide how to price your work? Do you use any particular method, as some artists do?

RDT: Size determines the pricing structure, with the usual market principles determining the price. Supply and demand. It's really difficult in the beginning, because there is no sales history. With experience, it sorts out. I think those in the art world would say I'm extremely affordable, while others, uninvolved with art, might balk. My small work begins at $100 and large canvases reach $5,000.

MD: What advice would you give to aspiring or emerging artists?

RDT: Be sure it's right. Do you work without anyone caring? Do you find the time and opportunity, despite difficulty? Are you thinking about visual matters? If it's what you want to do, find a livelihood that will support the effort, not defer it. And adjust your desires. You can buy clothes and cars, or you can buy time. Especially early on. But [being an artist] CAN be done.

MD: Who or what has contributed most to your artistic success or progress?

RDT: My late brother Gary was a supporter from a very early age. After dropping out of art school, I lived on a farm with communal values in order to paint. I was 19 and he [Gary] was 25. He began to buy my work and subsidize some of my living expenses there. This gave me a chance to develop my ideas, and it was very productive. His faith in me, and support, did more to advance my work than anything.

MD: Of what piece of artwork are you most proud, and why?

RDT: Ideally, it's the last thing I painted.

Tough question. I guess I don't think of them [my paintings] separately too much. Oh, I remember when I did a little painting of pears, maybe 15 years ago, and thinking I absolutely nailed it. It could not be improved in any way. The night I completed it, I went to bed and held it out in front of me and stared at it for two hours! Literally!

MD: What would you describe as your "lucky break" as an artist?

RDT: The class with [Richard] Diebenkorn. [Randall talked in Part 1 of our interview about taking a class with this master artist.]

MD: Imagine for a moment having achieved great public acknowledgment as an artist. What might a critic say about your work, or how would you like your painting to be remembered?

RDT: That [my paintings] were sincere, painted with conviction, complex in sensation, and an expression of human regard for nature.

Randall, doing this interview has been fun for me, and also revealing. I've learned so much about you. Thank you for taking the time to talk about your life and your art, which clearly is your passion. I wish you much success and many more years of painting the landscapes you love.

Randall's blog, Painter's Process, is here. His Website is here.

Some images of Sitka, where Randall spent the month of February 2010, are here

Images of Randall's available work on Daily are here. Images of recent paintings (oils on canvas or panel and watermedia on Yupo) on view at WhiteBird Gallery are here.

My feature about Randall, "Landscape Become Image", is here and here.


Glynn said...

Maureen, you introduced me to his art, and now I'm a fan. These two interviews are excellent.

Cassandra Frear said...

Love the painting displayed here in your post. I'm heading over to his website now.

M.L. Gallagher said...

What a wonderful education! You've done it again Maureen -- awakened me to new vistas, ideas, people, art! What a gift!

S. Etole said...

I've been enjoying his work for sometime now having found him through you. His work has a somewhat ethereal quality about it that I find inviting.

L.L. Barkat said...

I love that painting of the woods. I love the center of it.

Your poem over at Green Inventions. How marvelous!! I am always in awe of your words. :)

L.L. Barkat said...

I love that painting of the woods. I love the center of it.

Your poem over at Green Inventions. How marvelous!! I am always in awe of your words. :)

Kathleen said...

I agree with Susan.

Cynthia said...

Wonderful interview and I could especially relate to holding the pears out in front and staring at it for hours.....made me laugh,,,
it was pears for me too!!!! Randall is a true artist in every sense isn´t he...........