Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Artist Interview: Jonathan Charles Vaughan

What is your name:
Jonathan Charles Vaughan

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist:
I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts from The School of Visual Arts in New York, a Masters in Teaching in the Visual Arts from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a Masters of Fine Arts from The University of South Florida in Tampa.

What is the style of your pieces:
I don’t actually think that I have a specific style. My work tends to be heavily influenced by the concepts and materials that I am investigating at that moment. Though certain symbolic imagery does surface quite frequently, my method of execution can dynamically effect the way that it looks.
What is the medium in which you work:
For painting I usually use oil paint, in drawing I mostly use a variety of charcoal tools on paper, and in printmaking I most often work in lithography.

What started you on your path as an artist:
I was born in London, England and we lived there until I was about 5 years old. My parents were members at the Tate Gallery and I have many memories of visiting the museum. In particular I was very drawn to the sculptures of Rodin and the paintings of Turner. I also distinctly remember looking at a book on Michelangelo’s David with my father when I was about 8 or 9 and being amazed by the molding of marble into flesh. I was always enrolled in extra art lessons and spent many hours painting watercolours with my father at the dinning room table.

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life:
I think that art has brought purpose to my life. Not only have I had the privilege to work as an artist, but I also get to teach others about art and art history. Its quite an amazing thing to share with people, and I don’t believe I have ever really been good at anything else.

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in:
I am mostly fascinated with French Rococo works but I am also very drawn to Italian Futurism and Socialist Realist painting.

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like:
I do try to exhibit my works as often as possible. My last solo show was in 2007 at [SCENE]Metrospace in East Lansing, Michigan. For this show I executed 5 charcoal drawings that were approx. 10 foot by 7 foot, as well as 3 dimensional drawings that were between 4 foot to 6 foot by 8 foot. This exhibit also included smaller drawings and etchings, as well as some installation elements. I have shown in galleries, non-profit spaces, restaurants, public buildings, and even in the streets.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in:
I have a number of studio clothes, but only for painting. Usually I wear my regular clothes in the studio when I am drawing or working on a print. I do have good studio shoes though, this is super important when you are on your feet all the time.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist?
Debt. It is very costly to make work that is not always socially acceptable and to find places to exhibit it. As a teacher, I now include a lecture in my courses about debt, and how to avoid it as much as possible while still making work.

What is your favorite sandwich of all time:
Well, even though I haven’t eaten meat for 10 years, I use to make these sandwiches that were constructed from 3 layers of bread, smothered with butter, and stuffed with bacon. I think the animals and my arteries appreciate that I no longer participate in these culinary masterpieces, but they were delicious.

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they:
Yes, but the most exciting changes in my work happened last year when I began the hair drawings that I have been working on since about August. They just seem to work really well and people respond to them in ways that I find interesting and exciting.

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead:
I think good artists are always looking and researching other artists, whether it be someone from 1500 or 2010. With over 30,000 years of art history, its just too much to pick a favorite from.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person:
The last time I was in France I went into a little church and there was a sculpture of Joan of Arc that was being illuminated by light from a window. I don’t know who sculpted the work or where I was exactly, but it was a perfect moment. I have always been fascinated with Joan of Arc and greatly respected her so the sublime nature of this event held even more power for me.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work:
Mrs. Bojangles, our dog, really likes my paintings. She seems to always lay against them right after a fresh coat of varnish or glaze. My wife and I did catch her staring at this life sized portrait I painted of my dad one night, she was just sitting in front of it looking at him. It was really quite a wonderful scene.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us:
I am currently represented by Climate Gallery in Long Island City, NY where a number of my drawings can be seen. Additionally I am seeking exhibition opportunities in both Miami and NYC. In Fall of this year my work will be included in the Southern Region Edition of New American Paintings, which I am extremely excited about.


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