Monthly Archives: July 2015

John Zamudio: Painter from Peru


John Zamudio was born in Lima, Peru and was accepted at the National School of Fine Arts in Peru and went on to study oil painting at the Art Museum of Quinta Vergara in Vina del Mar, Chile. He worked in business for 15 years before returning to art. He joined the Church at age 15. As he says, “I consider myself someone who believes in expressing inspiring messages beyond the colors or brushstrokes to make the world a better place to live.”

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You have dealt with injuries to your hands and prolonged depression during your life. How did these challenges shape you as an artist? I had a bad accident to my hands was when I was 2 and I have no memories about having healthy hands to compare a before and an after. I started to struggle with my hands when I started the kindergarten, only in that time I realized that I had some issues with my hands because of bullying and I felt very ashamed for that. The situation pushed me to spend time in the classroom even during the recesses trying to do something in my notebook like drawing or painting because I felt that I wasn’t able to have friends. Those challenges in my childhood shaped me as an artist and encouraged me to help children. Now I’m helping children through a non-profit organization to discover and develop their artistic skills though free painting lessons in African countries and South American countries and soon in Utah. In fact, in my next show I will exhibit my paintings and children artwork together to encourage them, it will be in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building during the next general Conference in October 2015.

How do you approach a new painting. I studied oil painting in Lima, then some art lessons in Chile and Europe and my style is realist oil on canvas. I’m always trying to find new mediums and styles, I’ve learned how to paint digitally for the LDS Church Magazines and now I do both, oil on canvas and digital brushes. I work with real models in real scenarios, with real ancient legends and real clothing to make them closer to the reality. I include a lot of people in my compositions to paint huge canvases that take between 6 and 9 months each of them.

Visit John Zamudio’s website.


Tyler Vance: Art and Artifact


Tyler Vance was working at a car battery company in his early 20’s when his wife encouraged him to return to school and he finished an MFA. He continued painting and started his teaching career as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University and then moved to his current home in Massachusetts. He teaches at various colleges and produces gallery art in his own studio. I find it remarkable that he limits his palette to six colors.

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What is your work style? What is your studio like? What tools and mediums do you like to use? I’ve recently discovered the benefit of building maquettes for reference. Much of my subject matter and backdrops are difficult to find reference for, so building them myself has proven invaluable. They aren’t really sculptures in their own right – just quick models made from clay and cardboard to give me an idea of form and lighting.

My method of approaching a new painting is similar to a traditional step-by-step approach: Preliminary sketches, building maquettes, photographing, compositing and editing photos, more sketches, color studies, and a final comprehensive charcoal drawing before finally getting to the painting. It’s more time-intensive than an alla prima or plein air approach, but it yields the best results for me.

As for the actual oil painting, I exclusively paint on wood panel and use pumice grounds rather than gesso for priming. I find gesso too plasticky. After drawing in the linear composition, I paint in several layers of glazing and scumbling, going back and forth between transparent and opaque paint until I get the desired value, texture and history to the surface.

My studio is fairly straightforward. I have three main areas: painting, building, and staging. My painting area has my easels and taboret. For my main easel I constructed a simple frame with movable dowels against the wall to accommodate larger paintings. My building area has a workbench and all my tools for building supports or prepping panels. And my staging area is made up of movable shelves, multiple lights, and all of my props. This is where I set up scenes to paint from or take photographs.

You have incredible control over value in a limited palette. How did this style develop? I’ve always been first and foremost a draftsman. Painting has never come easy for me; I’ve had to work hard to find a method of painting that suits me best, and it’s still an evolving process.

I’ve used the same few colors almost exclusively now for several years: an earth tone palette consisting of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, raw umber, ultramarine blue, and titanium white – that’s it. I’m still exploring the range of subtle tonalities you can achieve with these colors. In this way, I don’t feel like I am actually “painting” when I work; rather it feels to me more like drawing and sculpture – building up palpable layers of texture and value.

You have said, “Bones and old things are vestiges of another life. They are not dead, but resurrected as artifacts and objects of our reverence.” Explain. There is a transformation that takes place when objects become artifacts. What once had life is now a piece of history, a relic that not only tells a story (often incomplete) about what it was, but is now a new thing with new meaning. For example, a museum takes an ancient pot used for storage and elevates it into a revered object. I try to capture that same reverence in my work, and to imply a ritualistic significance in the objects.

Bones and skulls are so prevalent in my work because they perfectly embody this idea. They are the ultimate artifacts, rife with significance and past life. They’re beautiful too; striking the right balance between organic and geometric, and they’re rich with texture. Unfortunately, both sides of the spectrum revile skulls: to the institutional artist they’re cliché; while to the general public they’re too macabre. But I can’t help myself from being drawn to them. Wherever my work takes me lately, be it a depiction of a single floating leaf or a tomb filled with mysterious artifacts, the idea of past life and new significance is the overarching theme.

Visit Tyler Vance’s website.

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Ryan S. Brown: Naturalist Tradition


Ryan S. Brown is an accomplished painter trained in the naturalist traditions of the nineteenth century. He lives and paints in Utah.

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Talk about your development as an artist. I didn’t grow up in an artistic environment. No one in my family knew anything about art. But, since I was young, I enjoyed drawing. It was always something fun to do, like playing basketball or swimming. I never thought of it as a potential career until late in high school. When I got to college I signed up for the illustration program because it seemed the most viable option for making money as an artist. I was lucky in this decision because I naturally gravitated towards representational art, and the illustration program was still tied to the traditions I appreciated, whereas the studio art programs in most universities, BYU included, were and are very biased towards post-modern abstraction. However, by the end of my time at BYU I began to realize the severe deficiencies in my education. It was then that I found the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. It was there that I feel like I first started to understand the potential for art and the depth and breadth of its purpose.

How was your experience at the Florence Academy of Art? The curriculum at the Florence Academy of Art is patterned after the system of education from the schools of 19th century Paris. This system and its results are proven through the thousands of masters that were produced from it resulting in the creation of some of the greatest works ever conceived by man. This education is made up of the accumulated knowledge passed down from master to apprentice over thousands of years through art history. My time at the Florence Academy of Art was the great turning point in my artistic career. The education served to clear the visual fog left by my university education. The organized, clear approach to education helped develop the foundational knowledge I needed to achieve the quality of work I hoped to. Living in Florence also proved to be one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. The history, culture, architecture, food, and pace of life all combined to create the most fertile ground for my artistic inspiration that I’ve ever experienced. Since then, regular visits to museums around the world have helped clarify and define my artistic vision. Studying the past masters has helped further adopt me into the tradition I so love, and provided me with my greatest education after my time at the Florence Academy. 

What is the Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting? The Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting is an answer to the need for an organized traditional approach to art education in Utah. At the moment, it is the only school available in Utah that teaches the traditions of drawing and painting with ties to the curriculums of the 18th and 19th century Paris schools. The CAS is also one of only 33 schools in the world that is Art Renewal Approved, a status bestowed by the Art Renewal Center and given only to schools that follow traditional teaching and exhibit the quality of faculty and student work that achieves the highest of standards. Our students have won top awards in the Art Renewal Centers student competition, as well as the Alpine Fellowship and the Hudson River Landscape Fellowship.

What are you working on next? My upcoming plans include a one-man show in August 2016 at S. R. Brennen Galleries in Santa Fe. I am also planning on moving my family back to Europe to live for a few years. I feel it necessary to live nearer to great museums to continue to grow as an artist. The inspiration of Europe beckons to me. I also feel like the direction of the CAS is headed toward Paris. We are trying to become more established towards gaining accreditation as a school and I feel like the environment of Paris is more conducive to the educational experience young artists need to gain a more well rounded and personal artistic vision. We are looking for patrons and donors to help make the move to Paris possible. It may take some time, but I am hopeful it will happen soon.

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David Habben: Religious Art


David Habben, known by his alter ego ‘Habbenink’, is a talented illustrator and creative mind based in Utah. Writer Igor Ovsyannykov explains Habben’s work. “David’s personal works of art are symbolic in nature and often address issues that all individuals confront as we strive to apply eternal gospel principles and maintain the spirit in our mortal lives. Some of his recent works tell the stories of the restoration through visual expressions which engage the viewer through compelling symbols, compositions, and contemporary media.”

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You once said, “I’m a member of a large, well-organized church, I still feel that my faith and testimony are unique to me.” How can art connect us and also individualize us? One of the lessons I learned through showing my work in a gallery setting is that everyone sees through their own unique lens. Our experiences shape us in such individual and powerful ways that I can’t expect a drawing to convey exactly what I intended it to and, honestly, I think that’s wonderful. Elder Wirthlin once said, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world.” That might be one of the most encouraging thoughts ever shared by an apostle. When I hear someone say, “I know the Church is true.” I appreciate it and accept it, but I also know that that phrase and belief will mean something different to me. It’s an important distinction because if we think all the testimonies are the same, we create a hierarchy of belief where we’re trying to achieve the same testimony as Brother Smith or Sister Johnson. In reality, we’re all coming to know Christ is our own way, through our own experiences and opportunities, “working out our own salvation,” so to speak.

You like to draw at church. What types of things do you draw? My church drawings are always in my sketchbooks, so they tend to be about anything and everything. I make it a point to not work on any existing projects on Sunday, so that provides me the opportunity to just relax and create. The quiet and reverent environment of Sunday School is a great place to still my otherwise beehive of a mind and just let the idea present itself. This has become a lot easier since our daughter starting going to nursery. There was about an 18 month gap between my Sunday sketches, but that was an easy sacrifice to make.

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Images courtesy David Habben and 15 Bytes.

Roy Adams: Refacing Money


Roy Adams enjoys ‘refacing currency’ with homages to KISS and others. Jackson does not seem to be long for the $20 bill, but I don’t think Gene Simmons is on the short list. For the record, mutilation of national bank obligations can result in being “imprisoned not more than six months”.

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Explain your interest in currency as a canvas. I remember going through my mom’s magazines as a little kid and drawing beards, eye patches, moustaches, cigars, clown makeup, et cetera on every face I could find (full disclosure; I still do this). I think it was my way of redefining something deemed serious as humorous. After I ‘reface’ the bills they always go right back into circulation with my usual shopping. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say a thing about it. I guess money is still money even if it looks like Gene Simmons or a 3-eyed zombie.

Tell us about your relationship to art. I currently live in St. George, Utah and I run a website called Art has always been a part of my life. There are many talented artists on both sides of my family so creativity was always paramount in my childhood. I have vague toddler age memories of my mom giving me crayons and a stack of paper plates to draw funny faces on. I still remember the second grade bully pulling me aside and asking me to draw him a unicorn flying over a rainbow. That gesture earned me not only playground protection but also a realization that art had the ability to influence people. I’ve always been the quiet kid so producing art became a way to communicate my range of emotions too. I think God gave me artistic ability not only to communicate my deepest thoughts, but also to draw funny faces to keep my kids entertained in church.

You recently got EnChroma sunglasses that allow you to ‘see color’ after a lifetime of colorblindness. Wow. It was incredible. I just remember walking outside and looking at a pine tree in amazement. I couldn’t look away. It was the richest, deepest green I had ever seen. It was very emotional to say the least. I saw strawberry blonde for the first time and it’s even better than I imagined. The best way to explain colorblindness is to imagine looking at a very faded pair of blue jeans. After you put on the EnChroma glasses those jeans become such a bright and vibrant blue that they seem to glow. They’ve become known as my magic glasses and I shamelessly wear them at night enough to make Corey Hart proud.

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