David Malan: Oil Paintings


David Malan is an artist and illustrator who has worked with national and international clients including The Walt Disney Company, the United States Mint, and The Weekly Standard. He “employs a frank and accurate approach to portray the emotions of the subject, and uses straight forward portraiture with highly polished painting.” He was profiled previously on The Krakens for his illustration work. Malan lives with his wife and four children in Utah.

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You have said you are influenced by classical artists of the 19th century and the Golden Age illustrators. I was raised in a non-art house. In the pre-Internet days my exposure was limited, I’m interested to think that I was driven toward a certain kind of art with no real examples to look to. I remember in high school Norman Rockwell stood out and the sculpture work of Bernini. They were well known enough that I came across them but it was the accuracy and exactness of their depictions that impressed me. Slowly, late in high school and into college I began to discover this really wonderful classical art that had been obscured by the rise of the impressionists and lost from the public consciousness. Initially it was William Bouguereau and his unbelievable mastery of painting the figure. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Jean Leone Gerome, John William Godward, Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadama are other examples of artists who reached this incredible level of painting realism with lovely romantic figures. In college the world of illustration opened up and I found J.C Leyendecker, Rockwell’s teacher, who combined great ability with stylization. The illustrators had taken a high level of control then changed the world to whatever they wanted, this really appealed to me. NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Maxfield Parrish are other great classical illustrators. I think the greatest in my mind is Alphonse Mucha, particularly his later oil paintings that are still difficult to find (see The Slav Epic), where he blended the illustration and the classical painting with some gorgeous scene that are as emotional as anything I’ve ever seen while demonstrating his total control of realistic accuracy.

You are active on Instagram and post your work in progress. What do you like and dislike about using social media? I have a pretty structured mind, once I start posting it becomes this task in my head that I need to do. I post regularly but I do have a love-hate relationship with social media. I started up a blog maybe 10 years ago and it was a wonderful space to display the work that I had done anyway. It is sad particularly with a digital piece of work to finish it then save it off somewhere and have nothing to show for it but a file somewhere. So I was happy to share it. But I also look though my sketchbook from pre-blog days and see this really free exploration, pages with half a dozen unfinished experiments. It was totally for me and there was no pressure to produce. I now live with this nagging feeling I need to produce a finished piece constantly and that each drawing should turn out which has only grown as I’ve developed a reputation. It’s all in my head so I shouldn’t blame social media but it’s hard to shake. I do appreciate the ability to get my name out and hear from other artists and fans from around the world.

Visit David Malan’s website.

Follow Dave Malan on Instagram.

Malan Working

Annie K. Blake: Here’s How I See It


Annie K. Blake is a painter with a great series called Of House and Home. She explains, “I explore the human experience, using the house as a symbol of complex inner lives and the variety of paths to build or follow, the limitations we allow or break through. The neighborhood, for me, represents our proximity but lack of knowledge of each other’s hidden color and mess, and I paint communities to encourage consideration of our dependence on each other and the beauty in our diverse yet shared experiences.” Blake was profiled previously on The Krakens for her series Cropped. She lives with her family in Utah.

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Tell us about your path to becoming an artist. It officially started one night in 2012 when I sobbed to my listening husband, “I just want to put things on walls!” I’d spent a lot of time doing what I thought was practical forms of art–selling handmade goods or teaching art classes for kids. But after one existential crisis too many, I decided to ignore the voice in my head that was telling me fine art was too risky. I bought some new boards, cleared a few feet of space in our tiny apartment on the floor between my bed and the wall, and started. At this point it was all really more of an idea than actual work. Most weeks I was proud of myself for painting at all. I would work on Saturdays for a bit while the kids played with dad or I would paint for a few hours in the morning every once in a while when my husband worked a later shift. But mostly I made excuses. “Starting is hard! I need more time! There’s no reason to start painting when I only have an hour. I should help make dinner! The kids need something. I don’t know what to paint. My back hurts!” Despite my intense feminist leanings, I was thoroughly buying into the idea that had been pounded into my brain through many Young Women’s lessons–the idea that really focusing on my career was something for later in life when I could have more of those big stretches of time to concentrate and really dive into things. So I was a painter who wasn’t doing much painting, and I was miserable.

But my husband is smart, and he knows as well as I do that a woman who is constantly sacrificing herself at the altar of excuses and other people’s needs is not actually a very good mom or a nice person to be around. So he kindly suggested I get into my “studio” and work for one hour. So I did. I addd a few layers to a few paintings, and before I knew it, the hour was over. I didn’t get a lot done, but I got SOMETHING done. I went from a person who was grumpy about not having time for her own goals to a person who felt like I had been really productive somehow. I started doing this more often. I would sneak away for ten minutes while the kids played nicely (yes, this usually only lasts ten minutes) or I would tell the mom-guilt to take a hike and just put a show on for them. I was slowly letting go of the idea that it would take me a long time to “get into it” and I was just painting with whatever time I could find. All those weeks were passing anyway, but this way I had a painting at the end. I was running a marathon a few blocks at a time. It was super slow, but 26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles even if you walk and take lots of breaks. Today, a few years later, I still don’t get as much uninterrupted time as I would like, but it works. It gives me more time to focus on the pondering and idea phase of painting, so when I get in the studio (I have a whole room now!) I can hit the ground running.

Where would you like to see the Mormon art world go in the coming years? Up and out. We all speak different spiritual languages, and if I’ve learned anything from the scriptures it’s that God communicates with us in our own language. So the more artistic voices we see expressing truth, the more people can be taught through art. I’m glad the definition of Mormon art is broadening to include more styles and experiences.

Visit Annie K. Blake’s website.

Follow Annie K. Blake on Instagram.

Photograph by Justin Hackworth.

Brad Teare: Landscapes


Brad Teare is a talented landscape painter with a background as a designer and woodcut artist. Teare was featured previously on The Krakens for his wood cuts. Teare and his wife, the artist Debra Teare, live in Utah.

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Regarding your painting, you once said, ‘Design is everything’. Explain. By that I mean there is little an artist can do technically or aesthetically to compensate for bad design. Design carries the important meaning–all else is secondary. Paint application can be primitive–completely lacking in virtuosity–yet the painting can retain its artistic value through its design. A strong design clashing with a primitive application can be electrifying. Although I have been experimenting with a type of virtuosity in my paintings what I’m really after is a lack of apparent technique–a technique that exists within a primitive application surrendering to design.

Your landscapes are beautiful. How do you pick a location? How do you approach the project? They say John Singer Sergeant could create a beautiful painting from nearly any vantage point of any scene no matter how mundane. I’m not one of those kinds of artists. I have to consider my design for quite a while before I start painting. I keep a sketchbook of compositions and look for scenes that echo that vision or concept. Generally I sketch and paint outside to gather visual material, not to create a finished painting. Although I like my paintings to look like they are painted in one session few of them are. Most evolve slowly. The best method to get the results I want is to first draw a very accurate pencil sketch of the scene. By accurate I don’t mean a realistic, detailed sketch, but rather one that captures the emotional quality I’m trying to portray. I take liberties with the rhythm and structure of the landscape. Again, the design is most important because it determines how the viewer engages with the scene. I let the colors evolve organically. Sometimes I scrape the dried paint, oil up the canvas, and repaint sections. Such repainting is not considered the correction of a failed painting but rather an integral part of my process. The first layers of color react with later applications. I often say, “start with a bad painting and work toward a good one. Not the other way around”. It’s an adage that applies to life as well as painting.

Visit Brad Teare’s website.

Follow Brad Teare on Instagram.

See Brad Teare’s YouTube Videos.


Christopher Thornock: Fine Art


Christopher Thornock is an active gallery artist and received a BFA from Art Center College of Design and an MFA from Brigham Young University. He also teaches art as an adjunct professor. Thornock’s illustration work was profiled previously at The Krakens. Thornock lives in Utah.

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How does your religion affect your art? My paintings are about looking and transcribing. I feel that the humble nature of our world needs examination and by ‘re-creating’ it as a painting, I am both trying to understand the complexities of its existence, but also mine. God created for us, I am looking at those creations and wanting to have others stop and see the beauty as well. I don’t think this is peculiar to Mormonism. I guess to put it simply, my painting helps me see the beauty in life.

How do you like to work? Music? Working from photos or models? Any unusual tools or techniques that you use? My studio practice is pretty basic. I make it a typical job. Start early, try to eliminate too many distractions and focus. I always have something to listen to. Lots of podcasts, audiobooks and music (usually really loud). Sometimes I work from life, other times from photography. There is a silly debate among ‘realist’ painters about working from life or photography with strong opinions, usually voiced by the working from life crowd. I don’t care one way of the other. Whatever it takes to get me to the end of the painting and that can vary on lots of factors. What is important to me is good drawing.

Recently my technical process starts with a canvas covered panel. I draw out a compositional grid (think golden section or dynamic symmetry) and then transcribe a drawing on it in graphite. After that is finished, I just go straight to color with oil paint. I tend to use a variety of small brushes and most paintings take about two or three passes to complete. I used to eliminate most of my brushwork making a more illusionistic image. I am not as interested in doing that anymore. I am finding a lot of pleasure in breaking the brushwork, using knives, etc. to create a more varied surface.

Visit Christopher Thornock’s website.

Follow Christopher Thornock on Instagram.


Margaret Morrison: Good Enough to Taste


Margaret Morrison is a master with two new intriguing series. She has been described as, “Best known for her detailed still-life and surreal figurative paintings, Morrison’s figurative imagery is expertly lit to invoke a foreshadowing element to the composition. Developing her still-life palette from a more muted tone to the brilliant colors seen today, Morrison’s super real, larger-than-life paintings of food, for example, are good enough to taste!” Morrison lives and paints in Athens, Georgia. She is an Associate Professor of drawing and painting at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. She was profiled previously on The Krakens for her series Larger than Life and Child’s Play.

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She created a series of oil paintings called Both Ways (below) that addresses all that time we spend in our cars.

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You once said you like to ‘cast old symbols in contemporary language’. What is the language in your exhibit Both Ways? In my series Patron Saints I portrayed some of the patron saints of Catholicism after researching their stories and attributes. I was intrigued with the idea of painting time-honored subject matter and symbols with models who were wearing contemporary clothing in a modern setting.

With Both Ways I was ‘casting’ the older, time-honored tradition of landscape painting in a new and very personal way. I think that this work came about because both my parents passed away recently and found myself looking backward to where I grew up. All of these landscapes are very meaningful to me, an extension of my own sight line. I realized after painting them, that all of them face west.

You teach at the University of Georgia. Does working with students affect what you do in your own studio? I have found that teaching fuels what I do in my studio, and what I do in my studio impacts my teaching; it truly is the perfect balance. I love the constant dialogue, the energy that stems from new conversations and ideas. I’m a better artist when I’m teaching and a better teacher when I’m up to my eyeballs in my studio.

What are you working on next? The field is white. I’m just keeping my eyes open, taking visual notes and have no idea where it’s leading me. That’s part of the adventure.

Images courtesy Margaret Morrison/Woodward Gallery.

Visit Woodward Gallery’s website.