Thursday, August 4, 2011

Answers for Eric

Eric “SuperVillain” Millen runs a blog called “My Favorite Artists,” where he asks 10 questions of people like Drew Struzan, Jean-Baptiste Monge, Thomas Kuebler, Vincent Dutrait and Scott Gustafson.

He invited me to take the witness stand.

1. Who is your favorite artist?
Well, besides everyone on your blog, Eric, (Man, you've got good taste!), I have lots of favorites from the past, and they change from week to week. This week I would say Adolph von Menzel, the self-taught German realist. But if Mr. Menzel saw me admiring his drawings, he would shake his head and say, “Don’t look at my art. Look at Nature. That’s where you’ll find your answers.”

2. Do you offer workshops for artists?
Don’t you remember? You’ve been enrolled in two of them! Each time it’s a different topic: designing a Pan figure, dinosaurs in street scenes, painting in colored light, inventing “tool people.” The next one is a lecture/demo on composition at LAAFA in October.

3. What do you like to listen to while you work?
I listen to almost every kind of music. But I keep coming back to Bach, Mozart, and Brahms. They have depths beyond depths. If only art could go where music goes.

4. What medium and tools do you use to create your art?
Oils and watercolors for painting. Sculpey for maquettes. Water-soluble colored pencils for sketching. Dip pens for lettering. I’m moving boldly forward into the nineteenth century. But I love my computer, too, for writing, graphic design, and video editing.

5. During an average week how many hours a day / week do you work on creating art?
There’s no average. I tend to do five years’ worth of paintings in the space of two years, and then fool around with other things for the next three years until the next book blooms in my head.

6. Are you working your dream job?
Yes, but remember, dreams are made tangible by means of drudgery. For one hour of flight, there are 999 hours spent in the hangar, tinkering with the engine and the ailerons.

7. Do you feel it’s important for others to pursue their dream jobs?
I can’t worry about what choices others should make, especially regarding dreams, which are inherently dangerous. But a life without illusions may be more dangerous in the long run. 

8. Where can people see your work (online, conventions or exhibits)?
The best place to start online is my blog. My other websites, and are due for updating, which I hope to do in September. I'll be attending the Baby Tattooville artist collectors' event in October, but I'm afraid that's sold out. Exhibit-wise, there are currently two of my paintings in a museum in Maine. And in 2012 there will be two big Dinotopia retrospective exhibitions, one in the Wisconsin and one in New England.

9. Was there a certain moment that you knew you wanted to be an artist?
When I was thirteen, I woke up to the idea that art could be a job as well as a hobby. That happened when people began to pay me for my calligraphy and my pen drawings. Since then the challenge has been, as Robert Frost once said,to unite my avocation and my vocation as my two eyes make one in sight."

10. Is there anything else you would like to add or say to other artists?
You, Mr. Millen, are the only person who ever asked me for my used brushes, which you replaced with new brushes. For the generosity of that trade, I salute you! And my one question for you is: what did you do with all those old brushes?

Eric Millen's "My Favorite Artists"


Super Villain said...

ah haha! this is wonderful!

yes, its true i knew the answer to most of the questions already, but couldn't pass up the chance to ask.

as for your used paint brushes, they are framed and hung above my desk where i paint. i can say there is nothing more inspiring then having the paintbrushes of your all time favorite painter above where you work.

james gurney is one of the most generous people on the planet! thank you for a wonderful interview (will be on my blog soon!) and those paint brushes!

Tom Hart said...

I can't wait to check out Super Villian's blog. What a great concept - the 10 Questions!

I can't pass up the opportunity to second his statement about James's generosity. Not only is your art an inspiration to untold numbers, so is your generous spirit, James. I know I'm far from alone in saying I can't thank you enough. I look forward to my Gurney Journey fix daily!

BTW, I received 41 Illustrators and How They Work as well as the Loomis book on figure drawing earlier this week. I probably wouldn't have known about the (re)publication of either, had it not been for this blog.

Steve said...

I'm in the middle of spending 16 days in a cabin without electricity in Michigan's upper peninsula. This morning I had the chance to get on-line, so, of course, one of my first stops was GJ. Today's post was such a treat, and exemplifies why this blog is so nourishing. Thanks!

Lester Yocum said...

So very well done, Eric. Marvelous stuff on your blog, too. Great concept; I learned a lot and was introduced to some artists I'd never seen before. A great, compact way to sample and be inspired by others.

My Pen Name said...

funny you should mention Menzel, I was unfamiliar with his work and stumbled on one of his paintigns during the Met's recent 'rooms with a view' exhibit.. hard to find sources on him but I was amazed....

Do you have any good sources for his writing/views on art??

Unknown said...

# 10 is Awesome!. Anyone who wants to trade me some new brushes for my old hammered ones- Let me know!

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite posts:) I especially like your answers to the "dream" questions. Thanks for posting this:)

Christian Schlierkamp said...

Great concept! Great interview! Just awesome, Eric!!(joined your blog! That's a teriffic idea, Eric!)

My pen name: there are some great high res versions of Menzel's paintings (as well "the Balcony Room", exhibited in the "rooms with a view"-show at the Met)at the Google Art project:

Here's his "iron rolling mill", which is momentarily one of my favourites:

That indeed is a most inspiring post! Thanks James and Eric!

Unknown said...

Thanks for asking fantastic questions, Eric!

John Fleck said...

James can you say where that 2012 Midwest show of your work will be?
I have hopes to be able to get to it, if it's in my neck of the Midwest.

Super Villain said...

big thanks for all the nice comments on the blog and interviews, its truly a labor of love.

big thanks again to james, it is truly an honor to be mentioned on your blog!

James Gurney said...

Thanks so much, everybody.

John: “The Fantastical Art of James Gurney” January 28 – April 8, 2012
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI.

phiq said...

James, what do you mean by dreams being "inherently dangerous?" This is an interesting response, untypical. I realise (I think?) that you are, in part, responding to this question in full knowing of the kind of light American culture puts on this particular notion.

Would you endorse the perhaps more straightforward "follow your bliss?"

My Pen Name said...

@Christian - thanks!
love this one:

James Gurney said...

Phiq, I mean dangerous strictly in a personal sense, the sense of lack of certainty, risky, with any possible outcome——the opposite of a safe choice. I believe it is wonderful to live dangerously in this respect. But I think advising people to follow their bliss without being prepared for years of struggle and alert for disaster could be unhelpful.

phiq said...

Thanks James, that cleared things up, and I agree.