Friday, October 30, 2009

15 minutes with Dana Idlet

art patrons enjoying works in the Vault Gallery by Dana Idlet, photo credit Henry Turner ©2009

Don't miss the last two days of Dana Idlet's current solo exhibition, The Nature of Faces, which opened the First Thursday of October and will close this Saturday, October 31st at 2:00p.m. This is her shows final week, so be sure to see it and all the other wonderful exhibitions currently on display at the Fayetteville Underground.

I hope you enjoy getting to know this young, vibrant, and talented artist.

Dana Idlet, 23, born Houston TX,

Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Tulsa in painting

When was the first time you called yourself an artist, what did that feel like?

The first time I called myself an artist was at my first solo exhibition in Tulsa. It felt odd to say it out loud, and it still does a little. But that's what I am.

Were the arts actively encouraged in your home? Have people always supported your desire to be an artist?

The arts were definitely encouraged in my home, anything my brother and I were interested in was supported in our home. My parents took us to piano lessons, thousands of basketball practices and art lessons. My family has always supported my decision to be a full time artist.

What is your long term goal as an artist? What is the best part about being an artist? What is the worst?

My goal is to make enough money to live comfortably and continue on a natural path as an artist. The best part about being an artist for me is that I'm able to do something I love and care about, using my energy for what I believe in. I think the worst part is the doubt and that negative voice in the back of my head sometimes, but there are ways of stopping that. Not knowing exactly how much money you will bring in each month can be stressful too.

What is something you would like people to take away from your work, something that viewers might be missing?

I want people to notice the shifts in color, some obvious and some subtle, that make up the image.

Are titles important to your work? If so how do you come up with them?

I used to hate titling my work, I never want it to affect what someone else might see on their own. I try to leave it as open as I can, a lot of times I write down words I hear or see that I like together. Some titles come from songs that mean a lot to me, or that I've been listening to while that painting was made. Once the painting is done I find a title that works with the image/idea.

Do you have an idea for what you want to create in a piece of art before you start the piece or does it evolve organically?

I have a very loose idea before I start a piece, but often what comes out first triggers a response that can change the whole painting. I think it's very organic and comes out fast when I just respond to lines or color, I try not to think too much.

Dana, you paint on traditional materials and you also do your cardboard collage work. How did the cardboard collage come about? Had you seen anything like that before? How did this evolve into your work?

I started painting with oils on sheets of cardboard I would find in dumpsters around campus. I used it because it was free, light, easy to store and I really liked painting on the brown cardboard. Then I started building up a surface with cardboard before I started painting on it, doing the collage part before I would paint, more sparse and bigger pieces. The paintings never really matched up with the random collage method...so I switched to acrylic paint so I could collage over the whole piece. I chose my pallet and painted each piece of ripped up cardboard, leaving some corrugated and had a enough warm and cool light and dark to pull from. It was very natural for me to do the collages so I kept them up.

I had never seen anything like that before with cardboard, some pallet knife paintings or paintings with very thick and clear color choices and not much blending were inspiration. I think the reason I kept making them was to practice painting from them. It's a fun process and I enjoy seeing the color changes throughout the collage when it's done.

What or who influences/inspires your work?

The people and things that bring joy to my life are my inspiration. The landscapes and seasonal changes influence my color choices, I feel like there are so many intense colors we kind of overlook around us. I use natural colors in my paintings, as bright as they may seem I find them everywhere. I love painting people and nature around me. Sometimes seeing someone else's paintings or photography can be inspiring as well, it could trigger something inside me that must come out.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so who is on heavy rotation in your studio currently?

Sometimes I feel like listening to music and sometimes I don't, it can either be distracting or meditative for me. Just depends. But when I do listen to music...lately it's been a lot of accordion, French and Gypsy styles, Hoots and Hellmouth has also been playing a lot.. so much, it may be a little irritating for the people around me, and Cinematic Orchestra.

What has it been like working in the Underground studios? Have you ever worked around a group of artists in this way before? What are the pros and cons? What have you learned about yourself or your work since your time in the Underground?

It's been interesting working in the Underground. I graduated a year ago, so I'm used to being in close quarters with other artists. I really enjoy being around all of the artists, each person has taught me something either by my observation or having talks about business or how to get an affect with the paint I'm using. There is feedback if I want it and everyone brings something different to the table. The space is great, the galleries are very nice. I feel so lucky to be a part of the First Thursdays, showing my work with all the other artists. It is a little scary how time can pass down in a basement though, there's no natural light which takes some getting used to.

What do you enjoy about First Thursday's at the Underground? What is the experience of having people in your studios like?

I really enjoy eating the cheese. I usually start out pretty nervous about talking to people, but it fades quickly when everything gets going. I like that people have the chance to see the studios because I love looking in other artists spaces and feeling the energy. I hide the work I don't want people to see, but I think the studios being open is a great thing. I hope it feels special to the people who visit too.

As is common in this segment, I ask the artist to list 15 things. Dana came up with a list of 15 things she can not live without.

family, friends, cheese, accordion, my dog Lenny, music, art, trees around me, cozy chair, family treasures (things I've stolen from home), alternative lighting (lamps/lanterns), dried mango, my Subaru, ability to travel, Sushi

Dana Idlet
"The Nature of Faces"
Exhibition remains up through this Saturday October 31st at 2:00pm.

Fayetteville Underground
One East Center Street
East side of the Fayetteville Square.
Fayetteville, AR
Gallery Hours W-F 12-7pm
Saturday 8-2
4 galleries: Open Studios
www.fayettevilleunderground.com

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