Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Middle Man

For Michael Wodyn, the joy of making art comes when he is fully immersed in creating a painting. It’s this “middle” stage of the artistic process that has inspired him to exhibit a collection of his abstract acrylic paintings in a new show, The Joy is in the Middle, at the Wisconsin Union Galleries. His large, colorful paintings are showcased along with work by Brian DeLevie, Jsun Laliberté and Zsuzsanna Nagy through March 10.

Before the show opened January 30, Wodyn answered a few questions about his process, inspirations and more.

How did you become an artist?

I became interested in drawing at a young age. That interest grew to include success with other media as well. I need to produce art in order to be happy with my life. It is not an interest I can leave behind, nor would I want to.

How would you describe the art you create?

My art is abstract and I view each piece as a history of the ideas, struggles and emotions that were part of its creation.

What draws you to acrylics and why do you tend toward colorful and large work?

I use acrylic paint for several reasons. I like that I am not exposing myself to toxic solvents. As for the paint’s other properties, my canvasses are usually several paint layers deep and the faster drying time allows the surface to be built up relatively quickly. However, the paint is workable for a limited time so decisions must be made and carried out without hesitation. This is especially true with large work, but I enjoy the challenge. I also like the physical engagement that comes with large work. Sometimes the most rewarding and visually interesting paintings were a tremendous struggle to complete.

I usually don't spend much time planning a color scheme. I just begin and react as the painting progresses.

What inspires your art?

Other art forms and artists inspire my art. I try always to be receptive to the world around me. Beginning a painting inspires me, and the belief that I need to search for the most honest means of expression keeps me producing more.

Why did you choose The Joy is in the Middle as the name for your show?

The title of my show refers to the period of pure creativity that occurs when I am engaged with a painting. I lose all track of time, ideas are tried, kept or scraped away, the painting can change, be destroyed and rebuilt, it can shift from dark to light and back to light again. It is a process that is both mentally and physically demanding and it is the reason why I love it so much.

What do you hope viewers get from seeing your work?

I would like viewers to approach my art without trying to figure out what the painting is supposed to “mean.” One doesn’t ask what a beautifully made pot or table means. They are objects and we can appreciate the colors and patterns, the marks that occurred during their creation, the evidence of the artist’s hand. If I have an idea in mind when I make a painting I usually give it a title. Otherwise the work is an object made of paint and canvas, colors, marks and patterns. The meaning for me comes during its creation. The meaning for the viewer is up to them.

What’s next for you?

To keep painting, to continue to strive for the most truthful way to express what I need to and to show my work when I feel it is good enough.

Images are courtesy of Michael Wodyn.

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