What are you working on?
Currently I am working on two larger projects. One consists of a variety of still life paintings and portraits from observation, I am doing these projects to further study skin tones and the working properties of oil paint in creating skin-like textures and gradients in addition to studying composition and just practicing/learning how to paint certain things from observation. This study of faces also includes an unofficial series of eyes in powdered graphite and pencil. The other project I am working on is based on clowns/harlequin dolls in watercolor and gouache (a medium I am just beginning to use). This series of paintings of 9 x 12” or smaller consist of the heads of clowns floating in space in a background to accentuate or hint at the personality of the clown. They are cute and demented little creatures that scare a few of my friends with Coulrophobia…as a matter of fact I will probably title it the Coulrophobia series. As of now I have not decided how many clowns I will make because I seem to make a new one everyday; most likely it will be an ongoing series.
Describe your work.
My work ranges from purely fantastical creatures of my imagination to almost hyper-realistic portraiture. All of the fantastical creatures most likely started out as a sketch in my trusty red composition book, that is where I sketch and write down ideas and concepts that I eventually turn into a painting. My more realistic pieces either come from observation or a photograph, where I try to match every variation of tone, every sparkle of light in someone’s eye, the subtle smile or smirk someone has and the exact shape of their head. I try to use a variety of mediums and techniques with painting and drawing to challenge myself; for example, before this year, I rarely used colors in my works because I was only comfortable with pencil and I realized that I needed to broaden my horizons. My 2012 new year’s resolution was to use colors in the form of colored pencils and paint, two mediums I had not used since elementary school. I have fallen in love with these new and unfamiliar mediums and continue to develop my skills in them to this day. In acrylic paint I love to fill the space around my subject with swirls and flickering lines reminiscent of animated wind gusts and ribbons, it gives a phantasmagoric environment to subjects such as ‘Das Orakel’, a green floating head with only its third eye open. In fact, those swirling lines have been a part of my work since I was a child. I loved the way swirls flowed so beautifully across paper and use them in almost every piece, no matter what medium I choose. In watercolor I love to add a dripping background to subjects of questionable nature, like the first clown in my Courophobia series.
Do you collaborate with other artists?
I have not yet collaborated with any other artists on large pieces but I do plan to collaborate with a few artists in the future. Currently I am in the process of conceptualizing collaboration projects. For one, I am making sketches and conceptualizing a piece that was inspired by my friend’s split personality, it will be an 11 x 14 acrylic piece on canvas board, split vertically through the middle with a good side and a bad side. I will be painting the good side, so I will be making many sketches of benevolent facial characteristics to exaggerate in opposition to my friend’s dark and malevolent half. The other project is called “Revolt,” a group project one of my artist friends asked me to join. It will be a series of t-shirt designs with our catch phrase and different styles, similar to Alex Pardee’s “Zerofriends” (that I am a HUGE fan of).
I plan on going to college, preferably a prestigious one in chemistry, physics, art or all three if that isn’t thinking too wildly. I want to major in at least art and chemistry and pursue one or both of the subjects to a PhD level. I want to get to a PhD level in teaching art or chemistry, the highest level would keep my students and I challenged. I plan on moving out of Cheltenham, for college up to bachelors I want to stay in the states but I want to continue my education abroad in my favorite country, Germany. I’d love to be able to live there, in a nice apartment or condo, with a dog or two, painting and traveling in my free time. I’ve always had an idea to start my own art gallery or boutique with a few artists. If any of my fantastical dreams after college don’t work out I would hope to be able to fall back on a PhD and become a professor. Many other ideas for my future have come and gone, merged together and compromised and this is the one that currently appeals to me the most.
What do you do for fun?
Some things I do for fun would not normally be considered fun, like reading the dictionary of Physics, but i always have fun learning about just about everything, especially science and art related things. I love listening to podcasts on new and innovative scientific discoveries, and looking up little details like the functional group that gives a chemical its specific use. Painting, drawing and sketching are always a source of joy for me because it feels like I am putting a piece of my imagination, myself, on a canvas or paper and when I finish I actually feel happy; and it feels even better when my creation can make someone else happy, even just for a second. Another thing I do for fun is go to concerts for my favorite bands. The rush and adrenaline and exhilaration from seeing one of my favorite bands live, whose music inspires me and gets me out of ruts, singing or screaming along with them, moving to the music—silence is painted with sound before my very eyes and ears. Hanging out with my friends is a very simple yet always entertaining free time activity. This usually consists of jokes, movies, lots of food, walking, running and occasionally doing random artistic things together that could range to sketches to spray painting a basement wall, or what we call it, “Arting”.
So many things are on my mind at once! Plans for tomorrow, when and where I will get small pumpkins for my next still life study and what color should I use for the base, when I will get up enough courage to use the new inks and nibs I got a few months ago, how I will design and hand color a few of my ‘Lil’ Devil’ prints and what exactly to wear for Outfest are a few of the passing thoughts of the moment. I am thinking about how simple and beautiful the music of Raised by Swans is, and how their song ‘Old Fires’ brings off-white with swirls of burnt sienna into view ever so faintly. I am thinking of what colors to use for the second clown in my Coulrophobia series and whether or not I should add outlines. I am wondering why it is taking over a month for my first issue of Hi-Fructose magazine to come in the mail but keeping faith that it is still on its way since they do tell you to expect to wait a long time for them. I am dreading the bitter cold of winter but excited for the Thanksgiving feast based around my Tofurky roasted with a medley of root vegetables—I cannot wait! Speaking of the winter, I will need to address an issue I am having with oil painting; when I paint I have the only window in my room open for ventilation but the Turpenoid solvent is still causing me to feel light-headed, so I will need to switch solvents or stop oil painting in the winter—which would be difficult.
Any exhibits coming up?
Unfortunately no, I’m currently building up a body of work to [hopefully] be featured in an exhibition soon! Any updates on my artwork and where it can be seen will be listed on my art page on my Facebook page (see link below).
Only art fair in the past years in school, but I hope to be featured in an exhibition someday.
Is any of your work political?
Usually my work is void of all political figures or issues, although I am very much involved/up on current political issues, but some of my works could be involved in something that would have turned up in political debates such as LGBT rights and stuff like that. Usually if I cover something that could be seen as ‘controversial’ as political art oftentimes is, it would be the occasional ‘Make Art not War’ drawings and paintings I am working on. Besides that, I don’t include my politics in my work for the simple reason that it has never inspired me to despite the pretty strong political beliefs I have. If I ever were to include them in one of my works it would be for a school project because our teacher always wants us to get out of our comfort zone and try something new and risky.
Are you involved with any organizations?
At my school I am the vice president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, a non-discriminatory safe-zone for the LGBT students of our school and the friends that support them. We raise awareness of the need for all students not to be bullied by their peers and be accepted for who they are without having to hide. We organize events, discuss current issues, attend Outfest, and Pride events and keep a tight-knit support group. I would like to become involved with a few more organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States and PETA, those two organizations are perfect for me as I am a big-time animal lover and a vegetarian going on 4 years.
At all times I am interested in many, many things at once. On a day to day basis everything around me interests me. I am interested in the position of the sun in the sky, the way the tone of everything around me is changed ever so slightly every day, the profile of people’s faces, the way light reflects off of their eyes, the ever-so-sudden micro-expressions that flicker across their face, the shadows that make doorways at the end of the hall look ominous, the way tall trees without leaves resemble veins and arteries that lead into capillaries, the majestic colors of the sunset that match the pigments of my oil paints and the dramatic clouds that are tinted by them, and the blue tint my room gets as the evening sets in. In terms of academics, I am interested in art (of course), chemistry, physics, and language. Even as a kindergartner I remember studying the periodic table with my father on Encyclopedia Encarta; one specific time that stands out was when he explained to me what Radon is, and how terrifying radioactivity was, funny enough, that fear made me do more research and the more research I did the more interested I became in the whole field of chemistry and physics. The specific language I am most interested in and currently learning is German, I even give most of my pieces German names. The interest in German was sparked by a pen-pal in Germany I made years ago during a dark time, who cheered me up and talked with me every day, I did research on Germany and fell in love with the language and I’ve been learning it ever since. Another thing I have an increasing interest for is body modification, specifically tattoos, implants and piercings. I love the way that people (including myself) can decorate and modify their bodies to become what they want them to be or to accentuate features they already have.
What are you reading?
Currently, I’m reading a book about human anatomy. The farther I go into art, the more I become interested in figure drawing. I’ve learned that you must learn every different part of the body to be able to draw/paint a realistic human from imagination, even for imaginary characters that are based on humans. Plus, everything about the human body is so spectacular; the same face template that just about everyone has looks different on everyone (even some slight differences between identical twins), the different shapes and sizes of people on the same basic framework of a skeleton, so this book will help quench my thirst for anatomical knowledge and inspirations. I am also reading The Scarlet Letter, a book I have heard about for years. Although I am only halfway into chapter two, its already made me very anxious to see what happens next.
What websites do you visit each day?
I hate to say that Facebook is one of them…but I don’t actually spend much time on it. Its one of those tabs that stays open that I check for notifications and post events. Other than that, I visit Hi-Fructose and Juxtapoz magazines’ sites, two wonderful pop surrealism/modern art magazines that always feature amazing and inspirational artists. Every day at dinnertime I visit hulu for my daily TV show (since I don’t own or want an actual television set), I usually watch Wilfred, Family Guy, The Simpsons or American Dad. I also get on my Etsy just about every day to post new pieces for my store, AutumnWallaceArt that I opened very recently.
I have a pretty eclectic taste in music but on a day to day basis I listen to a playlist of progressive rock, death metal, experimental, and neo-classical piano. All those genres have been the most inspiring to my work, the colors I hear in their songs give me ideas for patterns or color schemes I couldn’t just imagine; I have cross-wired senses, otherwise known as Synesthesia, that cause me to actually hear colors in music. Recently I’ve been in a playlist of a few set artists, including: Circa Survive, Thursday, Raised by Swans and Animals as Leaders. When I’m at home I listen to podcasts such as: The Smartest Man in the World, Stuff You Should Know, Stuff Mom Never Told You, Real Time with Bill Maher and RISK! I always have a podcast on when I’m painting or drawing, they keep me entertained while I sit at my art desk for hours. I really love Tuesdays and Fridays that I can paint on because new episodes of Stuff You Should Know are an added bonus, I can paint, be entertained and learn something new all at once.
Tell us about a few of your favorite spots in (in what city do you live?): I live in a suburb of Philadelphia called Cheltenham, a pretty small, not so interesting but nice town. Usually I go downtown for my entertainment and art supplies. I go all the way to Dick Blick and Utrecht off of south broad for art supplies because of great prices and I love the environment. When I am just hanging out downtown I go to South Street with a few of my friends to do some window shopping and eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Every first and second Friday I head to Olde City or the backyard of the Tiberino Museum for some of the most spectacular events Philly has to offer. Occasionally, I go downtown for concerts at the First Unitarian Church, TLA, The Trocadero or Union Transfer. The most recent concert I went to was for one of my favorite bands, Circa Survive, I waited outside for 6 hours before the show started just to get in first—it was worth it.
instagram – @xtheveggiemonsterx