Art Feature: Modern Masters Revisited, Cezanne, The Bathers, ink and oil pastel, 2014

Posted by on Feb 9, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Modern Masters Revisited, Cezanne, The Bathers, ink and oil pastel, 2014 by Allen Forrest

Graphic artist and painter Allen Forrest was born in Canada and bred in the U.S. He has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books. He is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University’s Reed Magazine and his Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation’s permanent art collection. Forrest‘s expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh, creating emotion on canvas. Follow him on Twitter, and check out his creative works here and here.

Question 1: You describe your work as a “mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh creating emotion on canvas.” What is it about those artistic movements that speaks to you?

Feeling. Both post-Impressionism and avant-garde expressionism were about extending expression, the former through the exploration of color and the latter through a dynamic individual view of the world. I respond to both strongly and try to give my contribution to these genres.

Q 2: This piece is incredible. I’m particularly fascinated by the way in which the bodies almost seem sculpted against the landscape, and tangible. It’s a masterful reimagining of Cezanne’s “Bathers”. As writers, our staff and readers are often fascinated to learn the stories behind pieces. What is it about “Bathers” that spoke to you, and how were you able to take that inspiration and turn it into this piece that both pays tribute to Cezanne, but is also so unique to you?

Cezanne’s late work was moving toward a new geometric expression that foreshadowed cubism and the expressionist movements: both the figure (as in the Bay Area Figurative Movement) and abstraction (Abstract Expressionism.) Cezanne’s late figure work was rarer, since he created mostly landscapes. I was drawn to his bather paintings and decided to experience Cezanne from the inside—I did my version of one of his works with a blind drawing method (focusing more on the model, than on your drawing) in a very loose style with my ink pen, then bringing in color with a different medium: oil pastel, instead of oil paint. I think the result captures Cezanne’s style and melds it to my way of expressing it.

Q 3: Many writers have certain rituals or processes they rely on in the course of creation. As an artist, what is the creative process like for you? How do you know when a piece is complete?

Through observation of the model, I get a feeling about it and how I want to express it. Sometimes an idea hits me through the course of my day and I decide to develop that. I prefer not to do preparatory sketches of a subject, but to tackle it on the paper/canvas the first time. I want that freshness and chance taking elements in my work. I usually don’t know for sure when a piece is completed, except a little voice inside saying “If you do anymore on this, you’ll really mess it up!” So then I stop.

Q 4: What have been some of the sources of your inspiration? How do you take an idea from inception to creation?

I work from books a lot for inspiration, whether it is images or words, something just catches my eye or mind’s eye and I am inspired to try and work on it. For many of my landscapes and cityscapes I will carry around a camera and shoot parts of town that I find interesting. Some of these photos end up being source material for my paintings.

When taking the idea from inception to creation, I like to attack the canvas armed with only my intention and go, things will change, challenges will come up, but you must ride those rapids and try not to fall off. Of course I may not do this all in one day. For oil paintings I typically work 3-4 separate sessions until I have, layer by layer brought the painting to where I want it.

Q 5: How has your artwork evolved over time? What have been the most challenging obstacles to overcome in your work as an artist?

I am beginning to work more from an idea in my head than from a model. I am encouraging this trend, since there is a style I want to create and it requires a greater imagination. The most challenging obstacle for me is to keep creating when I am tired or out of fresh directions. This can be hard. You must be self propelled and just keep at it.

Q 6: Are you working on any projects currently that you’d like to share with our readers?

As I mentioned previously, the works I am concerned with now will require a stronger imaginative power and be less concerned with formal techniques and accepted standards in art. I have to let go of those boundaries and limitations and ease into what comes.

Q 7: If you could turn the world onto one artist, who would it be?

How about a Mark Rothko sunrise, sunset, and a pulsating azure clear sky?

Q 8: What’s the name of your favorite book, author, or poet, and why is this book (or person) so close to your heart?

William Steig. My heart resonates with his great drawings and characters and wonderful sense of humor that depicts this crazy world with all its human conundrums.

Q 9: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

In the fine arts, I have the greatest respect for painting, music, and dance, then would come writing and acting. With our sight and hearing we have immediate emotional responses which are truer and more telling than when our mind gets involved with verbal and written interpretaion. Of course touch is another powerful sense that it so expressive and receptive to our emotions. What I am after in all my work is for the viewer to experience the piece emotionally before their mind steps in and says, that’s her arm and that’s a red dress and she’s smiling…

Artist Statement
Painting is a cross between a crap shoot, finding your way out of the woods, and performing a magic act. Each time I begin to paint I feel like I am walking a tightrope—sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, sometimes very quiet, and always, always surprising; leading me where I never expected to go. Doing art makes me lose all sense of time and place and go inside one long moment of creating. Whenever I feel a painting in my gut, I know this is why I paint. The colors are the message, I feel them
before my mind has a chance to get involved. Color is the most agile and dynamic medium to create joy. And if you can find joy in your art, then you’ve found something worth holding on to.
Linsey Jayne is a wave-headed poet with a penchant for jazz who received her MFA in creative writing at Fairfield University. Her writing has been published in such publications as The Standard-Times, The Dartmouth-Westport Chronicle, and exactly.what. She has served as the chief poetry editor for Mason’s Road, as well as the student editor for the Bryant Literary Review and the opinion section editor of The Archway. Linsey is currently at work on her first collection of poetry, entitled Idle Jive.

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