Glovebox Film Festival

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Interview with Dan Osterman by Brandon Aguiar

Church's Rocks- scanned pencil sketch, colored in photoshop
Glovebox caught up with Boston based landscape artist, Dan Osterman, here is what he had to say:
GLVBX: What is it about the New England landscape that you continuously find inspiring to work from? 

DAN: Well I came up from New Jersey in ‘78 when I really wasn’t strong at making a habit of doing art. I still hadn’t committed. I love the Jersey Pine Barrens and the South Jersey shore and I did some work but it was sporadic. I had to move elsewhere to get serious about life. One thing about New England I immediately liked was it wasn’t as muggy in the summer, it’s gotten muggier since then though. What do I like best about the N.E. landscape? Getting lost on the backroads. It began out in Central Massachusetts for me. Little towns that time forgot, the Quabbin Reservoir, Mt. Wachusett.
GLVBX: I noticed that your style is very loose and free. Do you paint your work on-site quickly or is it actually a more planned out process done from photographs?

DAN: I do work fast. I pack a lot of stuff to be prepared. I work in water-based media, so that means acrylics, inks, watercolor pencils, prepared masonite panels, heavy watercolor paper. The ends of brushes, nib-pens, palette knives for scraping are big with me. With painting sometimes it’s all about the texture. Since ’94 we try to get up to Monhegan Island in Maine every year. It has been a destination spot for artists since the early 1900’s. It’s got heavy, dense woods as well as crashing shoreline and the highest cliffs on the US Atlantic coast. No cliffs in New Jersey. When I go out to places like this for a week, I can get 2 and 3 good pieces done in a day. And I draw a lot. Many times a painting is done later at home and based on a sketch that I think I can improve on. This is very different from working from a photograph. The machine only holds you back from remembering what you saw. It is a hindrance, a wall between what you see and your eye. Drawing and painting are not about reproducing, they are about seeing. And painting is more about the head and making choices. A lot harder. I’m not saying I don’t take digitals of stuff that I find interesting because I do. It’s all put into the great maw. But to me everything starts with drawing which is about being in the world, immediate and freeing. I guess this is why often my painting has aspects of drawing in it. Now you mentioned that you liked the piece that is on the front page of my website titled “Cuttyhunk Island”, which is sort of a little Martha’s Vineyard for Republicans out off New Bedford. That piece has tons of color and some people take it for a painting but it’s all Photoshop. I did a pencil sketch of some rocks, put it away for 5 years, scanned it in one day and colored it up. Voila- a new medium.

GLVBX: How often do you travel to favorite/new spots?

DAN: Well there’s Monhegan. A few years ago I discovered the South Shore. Took a car trip down 1A south through Scituate and Marshfield. If you’re willing to get lost and go down sidetracks you’re liable to find some exciting things. There’s a place in Marshfield that used to be a railroad bed and now is a road with houses lining it. The road ends where the marsh and the river begin, but the remains of the railroad continue and there’s a manmade island that was created as a support for the railroad with a little house on it in the middle of the river. Whoever owns it probably barbecues on its little porch in the summer facing the setting sun watching the river flow. This is where I did the “Red Boat”, which is on the website. There’s an old railroad bed like this on the Cape too that crosses Rt. 6 in Eastham that is quite magical. It snakes up through Wellfleet and the Pamet river and harbor in Truro, and disappears once you come to 6A into Provincetown. They discontinued service on this line in the 30‘s or something because the weather and the tides did such a number on certain lengths of it. If you’re really adventurous you can drive parts of this railroad bed but you also might get stuck in the sand. Anyway it’s all for inspiration. I pack my stuff up and go. I walk a lot too like in the dunes. 
GLVBX: Who are some of your favorite artists and why?

DAN: I love too many to name and always come across more. But the influences mostly are Frederick Franck for the drawing and Robert Henri and his Ashcan School. Charles Burchfield, George Bellows, Arthur Dove, Georgia O'Keefe, Polly Thayer, Milton Avery, Ben Shahn, Thomas Hart Benton. And the Wyeths, particularly Jamie, the youngest. Very queer stuff.
GLVBX: What are your plans for the future?

DAN: These days I’m just trying to find a gallery to take some of my work.

Check out more about Dan on his site:

*All photo courtesy of Dan Osterman

No comments:

Post a Comment