Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Artist of the Week

Mike Maxwell

From elementary school on through high school we are told about our founding fathers, the leaders of the civil rights movements, our former presidents, and we nod and hopefully past the tests. We rarely think twice about the validity of what we are taught or who we are or are not taught about. As children we then move on to develop our own interests and, for the most part, never think twice about our history. However, it is the few that take time to go back through the history books, or find their own sources of information to convey the past, that can paint a vivid picture of the past and possible have a better understanding of the future.

California artist, Mike Maxwell, is someone who has decided to look towards the past to find inspirations for his portraits. A self-trained artist, Mike has created an amazing body of work featuring portraits of Lincoln, Grant, King Jr, and many other portraits with a classical sensibility. He is also the curator for Voice 1156 Gallery.

Recently, he was kind enough to answer a few our question on his style, music, and tattoos.

Orange Alert (OA): How would define your style of painting?
Mike Maxwell (MM): I am a portrait artist for the most part. If you wanted to put a label on it or classify it I suppose you could call it Outsider or Folk art. I'm a not formally trained so guess I fit those classifications.

OA: I enjoy your historical portraits, what was the original inspiration for these?
MM: Most of my current work is based on some sort of historical context. These pieces have become a sort of re education for myself, as I had other things on my mind while being taught in school. So these historical paintings turn into huge research projects where I try and find out the real history behind events and people in our history. What I found is that, what we are taught is never really the whole story. But that's no surprise. So my hope is to elevate my understanding of our history as a people and to use that as a guide to understanding the present and future.

OA: What is the typical starting point for a piece and how long does it take you to complete that piece?
MM: I always starts with a sketch. Then I transfer my sketch to whatever it is I am painting on and then go from there. A painting could take me anywhere from a few hours to a couple weeks. Depends on the piece. I usually work on a few things at a time that way I can jump back and forth while one is drying I can paint on the other.

OA: How has the internet affected you as an artist?
MM: I'm not sure. I guess a more appropriate question would be: How would it effect me if there were no internet? The internet was around long before my career as an artist started so I have never experienced said career without the internet. It is obviously a very powerful tool and plays a big part in my art making.

OA: Do you listening to music while you create? Who are some of favorites to listen to and how does their music affect your product?
MM: Music is also plays a huge part in my art. I listen to Bonnie Prince Billy,Smog, Bob Dylan, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill. Those folks are constantly on but I listen to tons of other stuff too.

OA: What's next for Mike Maxwell?
MM: I have a collaborative clothing line (w/Crystal Barnes) coming out in Fall 07' with Lewsader. I have a couple group shows coming up this summer in LA and NY and I am about to start working on my solo that will be held at The Shooting Gallery next February.

Other that that I just plan on being happy and enjoying life.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type and where is your favorite coffee spot?
MM: I drink espresso from Starbucks everyday. I know its lame to be a Starbucker but they make really good espresso.

OA: How many tattoos do you have and how would explain the feeling of getting a new tattoo?
MM: I think I have 18 tattoos. It's getting hard to keep track. Getting a new tattoo is like adding a new member to the family, but if you meant physically, well then it just hurts.

For more information on Mike Maxwell visit his myspace page.

1 comment:

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