Wednesday, January 30, 2013

finding his way back

I am so excited today to introduce (or re-introduce) you to my husband Andy! If you didn't know- he is an artist too but we are complete opposites when it comes to creating. While I am messy, abstract and free- he is clean, perfect and can pretty much draw anything that you put in front of him. He is truly one of the most talented artists I've met! The interesting thing about Andy is that he took a detour in his life that involved not making art for years (15+ years!). Instead he chose to put time into things that seemed to be more practical and made more sense at the time. Since walking away from his structural engineering position to be a stay at home dad, he has been on a non-stop journey back to his creative roots. It has been such an inspiration to witness Andy embracing his talent and falling back in love with art! In the weeks and months ahead we will be collaborating on a number of creative projects so I thought it would be fun to do a little interview with my hubby so that my readers could get to know him a little better.




TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I always loved art and drawing and I spent a great deal of my childhood inspired by comic books and cartoons. I would spend hours drawing different characters that were stuck in my head that I had to get out on paper. I fell in love with comic books at a young age and would draw Spiderman and Wolverine over and over again.  From the beginning I was able to replicate what I saw in a photo and translate it into a drawing.  Then as I got older the process of drawing what I saw became a creative challenge that I loved. I spent lots of time in art classes and by the time I reached and neared the end of high school I thought I wanted to go on to study art in college. While I received a number of art scholarships, I made a last minute decision to join the US Navy, Search and Rescue. This decision pretty much ended my art career and took me on a different path (a path that kept me out of trouble).  

Fortunately the Navy lead to college and eventually meeting my wife Alisa. I studied structural engineering in college and landed a really great engineering job at the University of California San Diego where I managed their earthquake testing laboratory. After 7 years at the university, I walked away from my position in May 2012 and have been a stay at home dad ever since! The last seven months at home with my wife and daughter has empowered me to reawaken my love of art, something I don't think I would have done without this big life change.  In the end, my heart has always told me that I'm an artist. 



WAS THERE EVER A POINT WHEN YOU WISHED YOU HAD GONE IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION WITH YOUR ART OR YOUR CAREER? 
Yes! Half way through my college career I thought I had made a mistake by choosing engineering as my major. I can vividly remember sitting out side the art department on a bench, on the phone with Alisa, asking her if she thought I should change my major. Of course she said yes, Alisa will always say yes to art! We talked about it, I crunched numbers and I researched how I could shift gears. After so much thought, I decided to stick with my goal of being a structural engineer. At that point I was already an older student, I had already worked so hard in school and I was determined to at least finish what I had started. I often think about that moment and wonder how different my life and our story would be if I had decided to change my major to art or design. But when all is said and done I am grateful for the the way that things have happened and even more grateful now to have art back in my life.




DURING YOUR TIME AS A STRUCTURAL ENGINEER DID YOU MAKE ART OR INFUSE CREATIVITY INTO YOUR LIFE?

I have always been a major doodler! Typically small pieces of my art were all over my school notes, meeting notes, white boards at work and pretty much anywhere I had a pen and paper.  All of my notebooks from college and my job have images, designs and drawings on them. Beyond my doodling and an occasional drawing for a friend, I didn't have the time or the inspiration to create. Having a management position in engineering  was a ton of pressure and was very busy, so by the end of the day I just wanted to relax.

Even though I didn't make a lot of art, I did find that many aspects of my engineering job were very creative and innovative.  Most of the time the engineering fulfilled that need to be challenged creatively, only in a much different way and with a very contrasting application. 



WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MATERIALS TO WORK WITH AND WHY?


I love to work with pencil and graphite. There is something about the simplicity of pencil to paper that has always appealed to me. I really enjoy the process of layering different variations of light and dark to bring my subject matter to life on a page.  I also enjoy the use of dimension in a drawing, for example- my brain knows the page is flat but if I can figure out a way to make the subject 'pop' out of the page, kind of like 3D, then I feel like I have successfully translated the depth to paper. This challenge makes me happy!






WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT MATTER?
I have always loved portrait and figure drawing. I am enamored with people and our diversity, so I am always visually soaking in gesture, movement, emotions, reactions, etc. through real life experiences, pictures, mass media, movies, etc. Then I finally see something that I want and need to translate to paper. Being able to translate the emotion of a photo into a sketch is my favorite thing. My eye is drawn to subject matter that has a lot of contrast and I want my art to exaggerate that contrast in order to amplify emotion.  Currently I am in the middle of working on a series of portraits of musicians. Music is a huge part of my life and blues and jazz was introduced to me at a young age by my father and uncles.  Fortunately for me, blues and jazz musicians provide some of the most amazing contrast and culturally diverse subject matter to draw!





HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DRAWING A PORTRAIT. WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
The first step is to find a really good picture and one that obviously captures emotion.  The challenge for me is to magnify that emotion through my drawing.  I then figure out what size paper will work best.  If I go smaller, will the emotion become confined and will that feeling compliment the image?  Or do I go big and expand the page, giving the image space to share it's emotion?  From there, I simply lay out a plan in my head and estimate the scale of the image compared to the paper.  I have forced my self not to be afraid of going off the page (any engineer would know how frustrating it is to not scale properly and run out of paper, so I am FORCING myself to steer away from this).

Next, I pick a starting point, typically the face and head, and quickly sketch the outline.  I then start working my way around the features, shading here and there. The shading process helps me slowly replicate the picture and almost mold with shadows. I will look at my drawing from a distance and compare it to the picture. This helps me check to see if it actually looks like the picture. From there, it is just working through an intuitive process until the drawing is complete.



WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF GOING WITH YOUR ART?
I am first and foremost on a personal quest to just make art as much as I can. I would like to continue to draw in a less constrained manner and loosen up my style. I am trying to move away from fixating on the details and getting stuck making it a perfect replica. I am a work in progress and I can't wait to see how my drawing grows and changes. But more than anything, I am so grateful to have found my way back to art!


When Andy is not chasing after our daughter Lucy or drawing you can find him surfing cold Oregon waves, playing guitar, working on his daily yoga practice and cooking gourmet meals for yours truly- he is one darn awesome husband!

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