Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Artist of the Week


Breath of Life
Graphite, India ink, acrylic, acrylic polymer on arches paper

Austin Dodson
Have you ever look at a painting and wondered what the subjects had been doing before they were captured in this painting? What is their story, and how did they get to this point? With most pieces you may be able to draw some inference from the title or by looking closely at the surrounding or facial expressions, but that is not the case with Philly based artist Austin Dodson. When you visit Austin's website you get a little bit more then just a title, dimensions, and materials. For most of the pieces Austin has written a brief story containing a few details about the subject. For the viewer, this adds a whole new dimension the piece and leads to a better understanding of the artist is trying to convey.

Most of Austin's pieces focus on the human figure, and more specifically joyfulness in the human existence. He tends to use bright color to convey this joy, and adds different fabrics and patterns to his pieces. Austin is a 2004 graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts, and has participated in many exhibitions since that time. He also works with several bands on cover art and promotional posters.
Recently, Austin took some time out to answer a few of our questions.



Sardonic Angel
pencil, inks, acrylic, lino cut on rives BFK

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Austin Dodson (AD): Emphasis on line quality and patterning with a sensibility toward ornamentation. Subject matter wise almost all my imagery revolves around the human figure and its expressive variances. I tend to depict my character's in a flattened backdrop that continues with or accentuates the formal aspects of what is happening in the figures. I use a variety of media such as pen and ink, acrylic, and fabric collage to achieve my desired end.

OA: The stories you tell about your pieces are nearly as fascinating as the pieces themselves, it really makes your work come alive. When are these stories formed? Have you thought about expanding them into short stories or even to full book length?
AD: The stories were written intently for the website. I had it in my mind that I wanted the narratives to move the imagery beyond what was inferred just within the picture. Once I sat down to write the stories they were each conceived of mostly on a whim through direct intuitive tapping; I asked myself what I imagined the character's to be doing, where they were coming from, what their back story was. The thought has occurred to me about expanding some of the narratives into their own short stories or turning it around and starting with the words first and making the imagery to fit the story.

OA: A common theme in your work seem to be the human face (with or without skin), but in particular children. What is it about the faces of children that lead you to create these beautiful pieces and stories?
AD: I'm most interested in depicting the birth right of humanity which I see as exaltation, joy, and inspiration. If it so happens that children recur thematically in my work than that to me suggests that children most often are getting the point; more frequently than the grown-up's.


Alice Comes Out To Play (Monday)
crayon, ink, acrylic, paper collage on arches

OA: In your mixed media pieces I have noticed there are a lot of different materials being utilized. One that caught my eye is crayon. Can you talk about the different materials that you use and how they tend to come together?
AD: There's a constant play back and forth with me and the materials. Sometimes a drawing will start as a pure graphite sketch or pen drawing and they'll stay there knowing that it needs no input from other media. Sometimes the foundations need developing so I'll add layers with ink washes that push back the original marks and maybe elucidate some chance imagery to re-direct it where I hadn't previously conceived. Sometimes I build the subject back out with ink or acrylic or collage materials, like paper or fabrics; as pattern or shape, to help bring in focus to the haphazard spills that the washes allow. By incorporating multi-media I'm broadening my parameter of tools available, acknowledging that I'm not for example, a pure oil painter, and saying that is all I'm going to use; I'm allowing the use of any material I have around me or that I can think of using, to aid the direction I want the picture to go. It's a matter of knowing what the certain material can do for me and me knowing what I want to do with the material.

OA: Is there a particular color pallet that you work from? Do you ever utilize color to create a mood or a general feeling in a piece?
AD: That is exactly my aim in using color. Color, more than any other formal quality, is the most intuitive and emotionally stirring. I'm drawn toward saturated, bright, rich colors, and I think those attributes lend themselves, pretty much across the board, to the ecstatic states I referred to earlier as being interested in depicting.

OA: What's next for Austin Dodson?
AD: 2007 has been a promising year for me with many new avenues rearing their heads and it's not over yet. I've been doing album artwork, designing flyer's, painting on guitar bodies, participating in exhibitions and craft shows, so it's going to be more of that and beyond. Interested parties can delve my website, http://www.austindodson.com/ for updated news and information.



Byron in Lil' Pete's
ink on arches

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spo
AD: Yes I'm a regular morning coffee drinker. In the summer it's regular iced coffee with cream, no sugar and I like it at Cafe Loftus because it's close to work and they pump it with shots of espresso.

OA: Do you listen to music while you are creating? What are some of your favorites while painting and in general?
AD: Typically I prefer classical music when working because it makes me feel smart and mindful which I always appreciate and secondly it allows for sustained mind journeying when going the distance in the studio. Other than that I've been listening to John Zorn's film scores as well as Ennio Morricone's and bundles of Tori Amos lately. I found it fitting that you included Deerhoof's 'Matchbook Seeks Maniac' song on the play list that went along with your Monday Morning Mix for my 'Alice...' piece because that is my favorite song from that album of theirs.

For more information on Austin Dodson visit website.

30 comments:

Sabra Embury said...

I love this guy. He is one of my favorite people.

Austin Dodson said...

FYI, Sabra was the inspiration for 'Breath of Life' and the aptly titled, 'Sabra See's Sexy Swirls' pieces. She is also one of my favorite writer's out today. I highly recommend her work at sabraembury.blogspot.com.

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