Sunday, October 21, 2012

Artist on Artist: Interview with Gavin Gardner.

Today, I have great pleasure in welcoming, Gavin Gardner, Sculptor and Painter, and longtime artist friend, to my studio blog for a little ‘Artist on Artist’ chat. Gavin received his BFA in Sculpture from the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. Gavin's work is represented by the Bridge Gallery of Shepardstown, WV, and the prestigous McBride Gallery of Annapolis, MD; his work is in a number of private and public collections across the country, most notably is the 14 Stations of the Cross for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, North Potomac, MD. Gavin has won several notable awards and scholarships; most recently he became a finalist in the Portrait Society of America 2012 competition and won the Honor Award for sculpture. Gavin also teaches, painting and sculpture, part-time at the Griffin Art Center of Frederick, MD. Gavin’s studio is currently based out of Walkersville, MD. _____________________________________________________________________________

Gavin Gardner. Inner Rhythm. (Self-Portrait)
10” x 8“. Oil on Panel. 2012.

P: When did you know you were an artist? and what is the earliest memory you have of doing "art"?

G: As a kid, I was always drawing. Recently in fact, I went through 6 boxes of childhood things and all of it was art related. I had coloring books, paints, crayons, chalk boards, sketch books, a child’s easel. I remember the summer before I entered the first grade, my father and I went on a cross country trip. We visited 45 states, Canada, Mexico and Belize. As we drove I would sketch the scenery flying by. I decided to become an artist during my sophomore year of high school. One afternoon I was drawing a marble statue at the National Gallery of Art and fell in love with the form and the glistening white stone. The next day I was determined to become a sculptor. I located a sculptor and carver who did work at the National Cathedral and studied with him privately for the next 2 ½ years until college.

P: Tell me some of the artists who have influenced you as an artist?

G: Hans Holbein’s work has been of interest to me due to the isolated profile portraits. They are reminiscent of portrait bas relief. I am also drawn to the well-known reliefs of Lorenzo Ghiberti and those of Augustus St. Gaudens. Among my other favorite sculptors are Jules Dalou, Carl Paul Jennewein, Ivan Mestrovic, and Alfred Gilbert. Dalou, Jennewein, and Mestrovic were all extraordinary relief sculptors. The early figurative works of Constantine Brancusi are an inspiration as well! Many people may not be aware that he was a very accomplished figure sculptor.
Gavin Gardner. The Conversation.
Approx Dem: 24” x 16”. Terra Cotta. 2012.

P: You majored in sculpting during college and worked for many years as a sculptor, and only just 2 short years ago started painting professionally, what inspired you to change directions?

G: After college I worked for a time at my mother’s flower market, En Masse. Working as a designer there I became conscious for the first time of color (for most artists sculpture is monochromatic). The floral arrangements were often bold fields of color, and flaunted bold color palettes. Several years later I began painting, not to change direction (I will always have a romance with sculpture) but to expand my vision. There is something efficient about painting. In addition, painting and sculpture are like two knives that sharpen each other. They each offer only part of the illusion of reality. Sculpture typically lacks color, but has form. Paint has color but lacks form. In my mind each art form sheds light on the other and vice versa. Painting feels like sculpting to me only with value and chroma. And sculpture is a 3-D value scale and study in modeling.

 Gavin Gardner. Lost in Music.
Life-Size. Cast Stone. 2012.

P: I know your primary palette is limited, could you tell me how you discovered this palette, what you've learned from it and why it's so effective for you?

G: I wanted to simplify and several friends recommended I look at Anders Zorn, a Swedish painter who popularized what is the most basic palette around. Zorn’s palette consists of Ivory Black, Flake White (may be substituted with Titanium White), Cadmium Red Medium, and Yellow Ochre. Some sources say he occasionally added Cobalt. Zorn’s palette is composed of primaries. Ivory black functions as a low key blue (and black). Otherwise there is only red, yellow and white. Many artists prefer a palette composed with a warm and cool of each primary. The Zorn palette offers something similar but it requires some mixing. Ivory black and the occasional addition of cobalt allow for a warm and cool selection of blue based colors. Cadmium Red Med and Yellow Ochre are warm but can always be cooled. The best argument for a limited palette is the over-abundant choices in our modern world. Many people want the basics. At the end of the day all we require to be effective is the essentials. And if we can learn to be masters with them, we can thrive in any complex system. A very limited palette also forces you to find the full range of color and chroma with 4 or 5 colors. Finding all of these colors is empowering.

 Gavin Gardner. Plein-air: Abandoned Farm House.
10" x 14". Oil on Panel. 2012.

P: What do you enjoy painting?

G: I enjoy landscape and still life, but I love portrait and figure painting.
Gavin Gardner. Plein-air: Speed.
16" x 8". Oil on Panel. 2012. 

P: How would you describe your work?

G: The recent renewed interest in European atelier and academy training is a stark contrast to contemporary art movements. The result is syncretism, a reconciling and fusing of seemingly opposed movements. It is the Hegelian dialectic expressing thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Many artists are finding ways to make their Classical style relevant and I have always seen my work as attempting to marry disparate ideas.

P: What is the best thing about being an artist?

G: I love that feeling you get when you’re in the zone and things are coming together. After all the observation the organized mess becomes transformed.
Gavin makes his own tubed paint.

P: Has the internet helped your career as an artist? If so, in what ways?

G: The internet is a fabulous tool for artists particularly. Ayn Rand wrote in her Romantic Manifesto, “Art by its very nature is a solitary profession.” The internet has connected all the hermits who never leave their studios. I always knew in the back of my mind that I needed to be networking with artists and galleries and attending exhibitions. I went from knowing 15 artists scattered across the United States, to networking with thousands all over the world. This internet platform has accelerated networking and people can gain enormous visibility now in a matter of years when it used to take decades. And by exposing me to great talent the internet has given me a deeper awareness of the great challenge we are called to as artists.

P: And lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?

G: The two most critical components to an artist’s success are their skill and their spirit. Both require cultivation. Always remember it is not about the money, it is not about success, it is not about quantity. It is about the art which may well speak louder and longer than you. Your focus should always be on the improvement of your skill and everything else will follow as a matter of course. Cultivate your spirit so you are not a stereotype of the self-destructive, imploding, angst-ridden contrary artist. There have been too many of these types. The world doesn’t need more. These qualities may make for compelling stories, but you will create longer if you cultivate a positive, self-aware, curious, generous, humble and kind, spirit. Be forever self-improving, never stuck.
Gavin's palette on a select day.

And, now for a bit of creative fun ...

P: Coffee or tea?
G: Both

P: Drama or comedy?
G: Both

P: Ocean or mountain?
G: Ocean

P: Hiking or shopping?
G: Both

P: Violin or piano?
G: Both

P: Sun or moon?
G: Both

P: Book or film?
G: Both

P: Cat or Dog?
G: Cat

P: Indoors or outdoors?
G: Both


Learn more about Gavin at his blog and website.

Became a fan and follower of Gavin’s on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Facebook: Gavin T Gardner Sculptor and Painter

Twitter: gavintayce


Gavin, thank you so much again for visiting my studio blog and for this wonderful opportunity to interview you. I wish you the very best with your career and your art!

Cheers, ~ Polly ~


Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thank you for introducing us to this marvelous artist. What wonderful talent, insight and hard work he personifies. Gavin is very inspiring!

Seip Fine Art said...

Diana, you're most welcome and you're right, Gavin, is very inspiring on so many levels!

jeronimus said...

Hi Poly. Thanks for sharing Gavin's very wise advice. It's inspired me to try to hone my painting skills.
Jeronimus from Marine Oil Paintings.

Seip Fine Art said...

Hey Jeronimus!

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that Gavin's words of wisdom, advice and knowledge have inspired you in such a way to fine tune your own painting skills - that's wonderful and best wishes to you on that!

Cheers, ~ Polly ~