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Dondi

Artist's Interview

How long have you been making art?
My first real attempt at drawing was right after Star Wars came out in 1977. I was riding in the back seat of my grandmother's Green Giant car with some cousins on a long road trip and had my brand spanking new Star Wars LP in my lap. For whatever reason some paper and a dull pencil was handy and I started trying to sketch some of the characters from the movie photos inside of the album cover to kill the boredom of the ride. The results were pretty good in the eyes of my 9-year-old self and I started drawing everything around me. 3 years later I was asked to do some local work and did a large commercial sign for a Health Food store, programs cover designs for the theater group and similar fun projects. When I was 15 I had a booth at a spring arts festival and showed my work. It was really exciting at the time and I even made one sale! $50 for pointillism ink drawing of branches and leaves on paper! I did a lot of work after that and throughout my senior year as a student in Graphic Design at a Mississippi university. Immediately after graduation I started working on my teaching degree and stopped doing any art at all for about 10 years. In 1999 I began doing a few portraits for people at work. In 2000 I stumbled on eBay and decided to try listing a few paintings. Joining EBSQ made a huge difference in my motivation to paint more. Having a network of like-minded people to share ideas and support has provided priceless encouragement.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
Toulouse Lautrec's poster art, Egon Schiele's erotic/expressionistic female nudes, Mark Rothko's color combinations and the art of children would begin some type of list of what has helped form some foundations of how I conceptualize before creating. Candy wrappers, shopping mall décor, vendor booths at trade shows, the colors in my next door neighbor's vegetable patch …just about anything is absorbed and banked for reference. I don't really think about any particular artist or style when I create, but it is all there in the background.
How would you describe your work?
Color and composition are always a focus in my paintings. I also always try to intentionally make at least one thing wrong in every painting that I do. It is usually a very minor thing but enough to pick out if you look. This may sound really strange but it is fun. Imperfection is actually pretty interesting to me.
What are your motivations for creating?
Looking at anything might cause a compulsion to paint. It is a necessary thing for me. Sometimes I write the ideas down like a grocery list to shop from when it's studio time!
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
I live in the rural south and ever since I can remember I have wanted to escape to some more glamorous place. After doing a bit of traveling, mostly to museums and large private art collections in many states, it became more and more apparent that anywhere is somewhere. Moving into a quiet older home in my small southern town has produced a lot of thinking about what fascinating micro-cultures can be found locally. Lately I have been driving through older business and residential areas looking for signs of rural decay. The colors in an old rusting metal sign or the shape of an abandoned heating unit really get me going with ideas.
You are a teacher. Do you find your students influence your work.
Kids are so eager and unfettered as they approach visual challenges. They always seem to have a very fresh outlook on what they see and how they interpret it. As many of us get older we tend to lose a lot of simple spontaneous freedom because we have learned certain rules about how some things are done. Children are the world's best scientists. They are constantly experimenting with everything and can be quite fearless as they explore. My art students constantly amaze me and often provide inspiration for trying out new things in my own artwork!
Tell us about some upcoming projects.
Rural south is a theme that I would like to work on over the next several months. I am also going to do more figures in bold colors similar to the series I did last summer. One challenge that is on the table is to try working with capturing natural light and visual forms in a study of Impressionism. Color play is a lot of fun but trying to take it to the next level will be an exciting endeavor!
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
I will always experiment with subject matter, themes, colors, media and techniques. I don't think that I will ever be able to settle down and just paint landscapes or only nudes. You can expect a lot of variety!

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