Friday, April 5, 2013

Artist Interview with Steven DaLuz

I am honored and excited to have the privilege of hosting an interview with Steven DaLuz.  His work inspires me greatly with its ordered abstractions, its sense of inner light, and its mystery.  

Without further delay here is the interview!  To view more examples of his work, please visit www.stevendaluz.com


DaLuz at work on Cloud Bank



Gavin:  Could you describe your earliest moments as an artist?

Steven:  
I suppose my earliest were abstract crayon masterpieces upon my mother's walls.  She was not impressed.  Later, during parent teacher conferences at the elementary school, the teacher described her dismay at my constant drawings all over assignments.  My mother was not impressed.  By 5th grade, my father was called in to retrieve me from the principal's office for my imaginative female nude drawing during class.  After apologizing to the principal, while walking to the car to go home, my father patted my back and uttered, "I"m impressed.  Just don't do those during class anymore."  The principal never did return that drawing. 

Title:  Birth of an Obelisk
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2008 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved

Gavin:  
Please describe your style and methods.
Steven:
Well, my philosophy is that I refuse to be placed in a box.  I am probably best known for landscape-referential abstractions, though I also have an endless fascination with the figure.  The common thread that runs through both bodies of work is my desire to conjure up a sense of mystery and ethereal light.  In the works that I describe as "Neo-Luminism", I suppose my style can be compared to the 19th Century "Luminists", with some "Romanticism" lumped in as well.  

I developed a process using composition gold leaf, copper leaf, chemically-induced patinas, oil and other mixed media.  As light passes through the glazes of oil, it bounces off the underlying metal leaf, creating a glow that appears to come from within the painting.  At first glance, the paintings look normal.  The light bouncing off the figures, piercing the hazy atmosphere, and appearing as  cloud formations are actually gold leaf or copper leaf peeking through the paint.  The imagery for those works is manufactured in my imagination.  I used models for the figurative work; working from a combination of live drawings, sketches and photo reference.  The backgrounds are usually imagined spaces.

Title:  Blue Haze 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2007 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved



Gavin:  People love to know what materials an artist favors.  What paints, brushes, supports, and mediums do you prefer?  Please email a photo of your brushes and palette for people’s interest.

Steven:  When I work in oils, I typically use metal leaf selectively in the substrate.  I prefer to work on hardboard panel, cradled with poplar.  I prepare the panel with 2 coats of PVA (which is somewhat like a synthetic rabbit skin glue); 3 coats of gesso, and 2 diluted coats of red oxide acrylic (usually).  I use Rollco sizing , and Nazionale composition gold leaf...though I also use copper leaf and 23K gold leaf.  I use a secret chemical concoction to induced patinas, a sealant, and then I can begin painting with oils.  It typically takes about a week to prepare my surfaces. I have used many different mediums, but honestly, I prefer Liquin for most of the work I do in this manner.  Concerning paints, I typically use the 150ml tubes made by Gamblin, though I am not a purist.  I use Rembrandt for certain colors, and a variety of other hand made paints.  I have a large assortment of brushes in most sizes...mostly flats and filberts.  I typically do not use rounds at all.  I also like to work with encaustic (beeswax, resin, and pigment) from time to time...and I still love drawing and works on paper as well.
 
Encaustic Pallete

Gavin: What has been most challenging for you as an artist?

Steven: At this stage, knowing when to say, "no".  I have difficulty painting fast enough to supply my galleries with work.  Reconciling that requirement, with my own need to produce good work is my most difficult challenge.
 
Title:  Ovum 2 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2009 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved
Gavin:  What interests you most (in terms of subject and theme) as an artist and why?

Steven: Honestly, I just love to draw and paint.  I would do it if I never made a dime.  However, I suppose I am most interested in imagery that evokes a "feeling" within the viewer--whether figurative or non-objective.  Even if the viewer connects for only a brief moment.  While I like intellectual stimulation in a work, I am more concerned with sparking the imagination.  I aim for this usually with properties of ethereal light, elements of mystery, and the sublime.  Entwining images of light, serenity, and calm against darkness, tumult, and chaos is what I like best.  It presents a kind of metaphor for life's journey.   Lately, I think spirituality has crept into my work.  Not religious, per se, but a kind of subconscious "yearning".  I don't fight it. For me, the pure beauty and power of art need not explain anything.  At its best, the raw image alone can be enough to pose questions and ignite the viewer's imagination.

Title:  Gateway 2 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 60"
Copyright 2010 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved




Gavin: Who has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?

Steven: My wife, hands down.  She bears with me, through my mood swings, self-doubt, and overwhelming compulsion to create.  She tells me the truth, even when I don't like to hear it. She has been by my side thru the tough times, and has always believed in me, even when I didn't.
 
Title:  Germination 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2010 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved


Gavin:  Please tell us about your influences.  

Steven: All of the artists throughout history that I know about have probably influenced me in some way, because their images are implanted in my brain.  Truly, there are so many, I would do an injustice by trying to list them.  I would like to think most of my work comes from many solitary hours alone in my studio experimenting and working out visual problems...the urge to say "self-taught" would be an arrogant supposition, because whatever I have done is because I have stood on the shoulders of countless "giants" who have gone before me.  Okay, probably Turner chief among them.
 
Title:  Chasm 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2011 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved

Gavin: Why do you make art?  Why is it important?  Why Painting?

Steven: I can't NOT make art.  It is as essential as eating to me.  After giving birth to some new piece, I take some measure of satisfaction knowing someone will derive enough enjoyment from it to take it into their home and live with it.  Painting gives me the greatest outlet for my urge to create.  It offers the most challenge and sense of accomplishment when an idea comes to fruition.  Through painting I get to draw, to compose, to play with color, temperatures, texture, light, dark, create illusions, and solve all manner of visual "problems" while entering a kind of peaceful place.   Painting offers that opportunity to take colorful glops of oil and pigment, slosh it around in such a way to create the illusion of a 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional space.  There's something intoxicating about the smell of oil paint as I enter my studio...my sanctuary.
 
Title:  Mythos
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 64"
Copyright 2012 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved


Gavin: What words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?

Steven: Avoid the fruitless exercise of comparing yourself to other artists--it is a waste of time.  Instead, look at the work you are making today, and compare it against the work you are doing next month...next year.  Are you growing?  You have a unique voice.  Find it and use it.  There is no substitute for time in the studio, working. The more you exercise your creative "muscles", the more they will develop. Do not wait for "inspiration" to come.  Sketch, draw, read,listen to music.   Look at LOTS of art "in the flesh"--not just online imagery. Don't be too hard on yourself.  For every decent piece I have made, I did 10 that are "turkeys".  Be persistent and learn from those--they are part of your journey.  Whatever you lack in knowledge, go out and get it!  So long as you are alive, understand that there is no "expiration date" for artists.  You can create at ANY age, throughout the course of your life.  
 
Title:  Odyssey (After Bierstadt) 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 48"
Copyright 2009 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved


Gavin:   Would you mind sharing something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn't know?

Steven:  Even though I am not a licensed pilot, I once flew the F-16 fighter jet in Korea. It was the thrill of a lifetime.
Title:  Opus 110 
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 48"
Copyright 2009 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved

Gavin: If you were conducting this interview what one question would you ask yourself and what would the answer be? 

Steven: "Does it bother you when someone does not like your work?"   When I was younger, I admit that it stung to hear someone say they did not care for my work.  It was like the viewer was rejecting ME.  When we create a piece of art, we often become so invested in its creation, that we leave a part of ourselves in the work itself.  So, it feels like someone calling our child inadequate or ugly.  Then, one day while still an art student (in my early 40's, I might add), I had an abstract work on display at an art fair.  I stood away from the work at sufficient distance that I could be like a fly on the wall, hearing what passersby would say about the work without them being aware of my presence.  A couple of men stopped and looked at the art for a moment.  Then one said to the other, "Man, I could have done that while drunk!"  About 20 minutes later a couple of women stopped and looked at the same piece.  Then one exclaimed, "Oh my, someday that's going to be in a museum."  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  First, the viewers did not know me.  They were able to react to the work on its own merit, apart from the one who created it.  The same piece was able to elicit completely different reactions.  Most importantly, I realized that not everyone will "connect" with our work.  I have come to accept that and be at peace with that reality.  In the end, you must create work that YOU are passionate about, without regard to how someone else may or may not respond to it.
Title:  Source
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36" x 36"
Copyright 2009 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved


Gavin:  Much of your work seems to draw heavily on religion and spirituality.  Here I refer to the watchers and your obelisks.  Could you tell us about this facet of your work? 

Steven:  This is a question that would take me much longer than I could answer completely in this forum, but I'll try to touch upon it.  "Watchers" and the obelisks (part of my "Emanations" exhibition), were just 2 series of work I have done out of many.  Truth is, I suppose I am not a religious person, in the "organized religion" sense of the word.  This does not mean I am not spiritual, or that I do not think about matters that go beyond our understanding of this physical realm.  Even the work I create now has some unconscious, spiritual component to it.  The longer I live, the more I have come to believe that everything in the universe is connected. I can barely begin to fathom the great depths of the mysteries the cosmos offers, yet we are a part of it. I believe we are more than this physical "shell" that is our corporeal body.  The "obelisks" were my way of expressing light and energy becoming matter in the form of a singularity.  This idea of a "one-ness" between humankind and the universe has become something of a fascination for me.  I do not try to supply any "answers" to life's big questions with my work...I simply try to visually express some of my thoughts and feelings to hopefully spark the imaginations of others.  I think there is a kind of "yearning" that we have, as humans, to know that we are not alone in this vast plane of existence.  I try to pull the veil back just a little to reveal just a glimpse of something that COULD be.  But, that is the beauty of art.  It has the potential to make our spirits soar.

Title:  Untitled 4 (After Turner)
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 60"
Copyright 2010 by Steven DaLuz, All Rights Reserved




Gavin: Your work focuses heavily on void, abstraction, vaporous forms, and light. Could you tell us about your interest in this and your synthesizing of this abstraction with literal figurative form?

Steven:  I think I may have answered some of this in the previous questionbut I'll try to address that more specifically.  First, I am equally interested in abstraction and figuration, so I do not fight it.  It is simply how my brain is wired.  Most of my "abstractions", are only partially abstract, in that they refer to something real or that could be real.  I like to create the "idea" of a place, whether steeped in reference to landscape, or to celestial forms.  As I paint these, I am transported to another realm in my mind.  Because they are entirely from my imagination, I just allude to the notion of some environment that may allow the viewer to bring up a memory of someplace they have been, or would like to be.  They have a vague recollection, but the place is not literal.  The ethereal properties of light suggest a source that can be otherworldly.  Light has the ability to reveal...and the capacity to blind. Is it the sun?  Is it from within?  Is it beyond?  I leave that for the viewer to decide.  If everything is in complete focus, I have just created an illustration that declares everything the viewer needs to know.  I hope to engage the viewer more. By creating voids and vaporous depictions, I increase the likelihood the viewer will complete the picture for themselves.  In synthesizing the figure into some of these works, I engage my passion for painting the figure...but, I also believe that because we are humans, we relate to the figure.  If I disguise features, or obscure identity, I allow the form to become more universal.  In doing this, I hope the viewer can relate to the figure and imagine themselves in such a setting.
Title:  Red Obelisk
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  48" x 48"
Copyright 2010 by Steven DaLuz



Gavin: You are working with different materials and processes than most artists. It also seems certain techniques are your invention. Could you give us some insight into your unique materials and methods?

Steven:  It's true, I absolutely LOVE experimentation with multiple materials and processes. But MANY artists do!  I am endlessly fascinated by the ways an image can be created or a feeling expressed by the incorporation of different materials.  I can remember a time as a young child walking through a park and seeing the fantastic patinas on the bronze statues.  In an effort to obtain this elusive property in my own work, I set out to capture the color and texture in my paintings about 7 or 8 years ago.  Through months of experimentation, and many failures, I began to notice different properties of the materials than for what I was originally striving.  I began using metal leaf in the underlying layers of my paintings.  On the metal leaf, I selectively apply a chemical preparation to rapidly create patinas of color on the metal.  After that is sealed, I begin painting in glazes of oil.  I leave some of the metal leaf exposed, and some is painted over, revealing some if it though the layers of paint.  As light passes thru the veils of paint, it bounces off the metal and reflects light back in a way that is more intense than simply oil paint on its own.  I am certainly not the first artist to use metal leaf--it has been used since the early Flemish painters.  Even today, artists such as Brad Kunkle and Pam Hawkes use metal leaf in their work.  I use it in a different manner, but, I think they also exploit the material to wonderful effect.  Someday, I will produce a video that outlines the specifics of my process.
Title:  Window
Medium:  Oil, Metal Leaf on Panel
Size:  36"  x 36"
Copyright 2012 by Steven DaLuz


7 comments:

  1. These look beautiful on screen, but I'd love to see them in person. Where can someone go to see these in real life?

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    1. H.S. They are lovely. Please visit www.stevendaluz.com for information on gallery representation! You may also email Daluz directly through his website. Thank you for your interest!

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  2. Thanks for the interview, Gavin. @ H.S., right now (April 6, 2013) you can go to The Marshall LeKae Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona to see actual works. All the works you see here are sold, but there are about 7 newer pieces up right now,that just opened on April 4th. Online imagery is low resolution and does not capture all the nuance and textures in the actual works (as is usually the case with most artwork).

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  3. Incredible... Awesome... and Gifted.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your inspiration, processes, experimentation, etc. Your work truly evokes so much emotion, and keeps me wanting more!

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  5. beautiful, absolutely stunning
    Best Fine Art College in Indore http://www.virtualvoyage.edu.in/course/fine-arts-college/

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