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Artist Interview: Robert Puschautz

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Q&A With The Artist

Artist Interview: Robert Puschautz

What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries relat­ed to art?
The ear­li­est mem­o­ries I have of art are from going to Church on Sun­days with my fam­i­ly. I was born and raised in Chica­go which had some amaz­ing ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry Catholic Church­es with incred­i­ble stained glass, paint­ings and sculp­tures. I remem­ber even as a young child grow­ing up with these beau­ti­ful images and being sur­round­ed by the spir­i­tu­al dra­ma of the Chris­t­ian Faith.

How and when did you start becom­ing an artist yourself?
I come from a pret­ty big fam­i­ly with five boys and one girl. My mom had these old draw­ings around the house that she made when she was a young woman and my old­er broth­ers were always draw­ing super­heroes and cars. I fol­lowed along. I was the class artist in school. I would draw pic­tures for oth­er stu­dents and in high school I designed t‑shirts and paint­ed murals. It wasn’t until col­lege though, that I began to take seri­ous­ly the con­cep­tu­al process of what it took to cre­ate a work of art. Every mate­r­i­al, image and process had to be con­sid­ered a part of the art­work. I think for me, that was the first step of becom­ing an artist. I had to think like an artist to be one.

What was the evo­lu­tion like toward find­ing your cur­rent voice and visu­al vocabulary?
I’ve had a pret­ty slow evo­lu­tion in my artis­tic career. I like to thor­ough­ly work through a con­cept before feel­ing con­fi­dent in mov­ing on. After col­lege, I start­ed work­ing on a body of work that involved try­ing to con­vey a person’s inner world through com­bi­na­tion of por­trai­ture and land­scape paint­ing. I was not very good a paint­ing por­traits or land­scapes, so I decid­ed to work on one at time. Land­scape became a focus for me for sev­er­al years, but the focus was on evok­ing a sense of the spir­i­tu­al rather than the nat­ur­al. In those works light became a metaphor for the divine and the earth for humankind. Even­tu­al­ly, I began train­ing at a clas­si­cal Ate­lier that helped me draw the fig­ure from life. All the visu­al vocab­u­lary I use comes from my expe­ri­ence paint­ing land­scapes, my clas­si­cal train­ing and learn­ing from the masters.

What is your process like?
I am by nature a bit dis­or­ga­nized, so I like to impose a straight­for­ward process on myself to get the best pos­si­ble results. I start with research­ing images from Art His­to­ry. I will make sev­er­al sketch­es of an idea in either pen­cil or on my iPad. After I set­tle on a com­po­si­tion I’ll usu­al­ly get a mod­el in and make sev­er­al sketch­es in char­coal or paint of hand ges­tures, pos­es, or the gen­er­al col­or and val­ue of the piece. Final­ly, I get the big can­vas out and start to work. There are usu­al­ly a lot of changes made along the way. My large reli­gious works usu­al­ly take any­where from three to six months to complete.

Is there any­thing from your artist state­ment that you wish to expound on, that you nor­mal­ly don’t have the chance to discuss?
There are too many things to dis­cuss, so I’ll try to let my art speak for itself!

What do you try to con­trol in your sur­faces, and what do you leave to chance?
I try to con­trol every­thing when it comes to my sur­faces and if any­thing hap­pens by chance in the paint­ing I make sure that it fits with the over­all con­cept and real­iza­tion of the work.

Where do you see your work going from here?
I would love to con­tin­ue to paint reli­gious sub­jects for church­es but also have some time to do some more per­son­al work as well. I nev­er total­ly fleshed out my land­scape por­trait series which I’d love to return to at some point, and I’d like to begin using col­or in a way that is more evoca­tive and sym­bol­ic. I take things one step at a time though, so after I work on those things, who knows…

Robert Puschautz, Gold Leaf Gallery


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