Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Art Space Talk: Michael Cutlip

Michael Cutlip creates abstract landscapes of lines, markings, brush strokes, spray paint blots, and graphite smudges. The artist works intuitively, as he feels a planned painting is a failed painting. Process is essential to Cutlip's works on panel - during which time his painting is free to wander.

Horse Power, Mixed on Panel, 24" x 24"

Brian Sherwin: Michael, you are represented by Melanee Cooper Gallery in Chicago. Do you have any upcoming exhibits with the gallery? Also, where else can our readers observe your art in person?

Michael Cutlip: I'm going to be part of an exhibit called "Cool Globes" in Chicago. It's an innovative project that uses the medium of public art to inspire individuals and organizations to take action against global warming. www.coolglobes.com. I will also be part of a three-person show in New York next month at Stricoff Fine Art.

Up until the past 1-2 years I have mainly exhibited here in California. I now have representation in Chicago, New York, Denver, and a few other cities across the country.

Obsession, Mixed on Panel, 48" x 48"

BS: Michael, let us take a step back-- can you recall any experiences from your youth that helped guide you on the path you are on today? Tell us about your early experiences in art.

MC: I wasn't really into art as a child...other than an occasional brush with a box of Crayola's. I played the saxophone in the school band growing up...so music was always my creative elective. I was 23 and in college when I took my first drawing class. It changed my life forever.

BS: Michael, where did you study art? Who were your mentors?

MC: As I mentioned above...I kind of discovered my passion for art accidentally. I was studying business (God knows why!) at Cal State University Hayward (definitely not a none school for the arts). I was ONE semester away from getting my degree and I realized I needed to fulfill an elective requirement. I thought Drawing would be easy and decided to go for it. What happened next came completely by surprise. I became completely seduced by this new world I had discovered. The man who taught that class was and still is my sole mentor. He was an older man (maybe in his early 70's at that time), but he had the spirit of a twenty-year old. He was amazing, and inspired the hell out of me. He saw beyond my clumsy, awkward drawings and told me he saw art. Well, I was hooked from that point on. I never finished up the business degree and continued to study art for the next 4 years. I then finally received my degree in fine art after 8 years of college.

Pollinate, Mixed on Wood Panel, 48" x 48"

BS: Michael, you have been involved with several impressive group exhibits- including Bridge Art Fair Miami in 2006. Do you enjoy art fairs? I've spoken with several artists about art fairs and have had mixed opinions. Some artists feel that they threaten the stability of the traditional art market. Do you see the fairs as a threat or do you feel that they are important for the vitality of art as a whole?

MC: I can't say that I really have a strong opinion about that. They seem to be the wave of the future for better or for worse.

BS: Michael, you work with mixed medium on panel. Why do you prefer that surface over say... canvas? Also, can you go into further detail about your artistic process... how do you start a piece? Do you 'map' it out in your head? Or do you go where your imagination takes you, so to speak?

MC: I personally hate working on canvas... I tend to fight the texture. I prefer the smooth surface of the wood. Wood is also more durable..I always tear canvas when I work on it. I use electric sanders and scratch into it, so canvas doesn't work.

As far as my process...no, I definitely do not map out a painting. Ideas are dangerous in my mind. When ever I come up with a "great idea". I am sure to fail. I am very process oriented, so the paintings evolve naturally from one move to the next. I definitely have a process (as most artist's do), but I don't really think about it much when I am working. I go on auto-pilot, so to speak.

Discoveries, Mixed on Wood Panel, 36" x 36"

BS: Michael, have you been influenced by other artists or art movements? Where else do you draw inspiration from?

MC: I honestly do not frequent the art galleries too often. So, art, in it's traditional form, doesn't have much influence over me. Well, on some level, I'm sure it does...I just don't think about it too much. I'm inspired a lot by everyday things i see on the street. I like graffiti, street art, a lot. Mostly, I inspire myself, through the process of creating. When I make a mark and my heart starts to beat a little bit faster...that's the good stuff!

Time Line, Mixed on Wood Panel, 48" x 48"

BS: Michael, what projects are you working on at this time? Have you been working on a new body of art?

MC: I don't really see my work as separate bodies of work. Each piece evolves from the last and so on and so on. I did just finish a mural in Tokyo Japan. That mixed things up for me a bit...I was quite pleased with the result.

BS: Michael, have you ever collaborated on a project? If not, do you plan to at some point in the future?

MC: My wife is a painter also...we use to do a lot of collaborative stuff back when we were in school together. For some reason that stopped. I don't really think it was because we were a couple...it's just very difficult for me to work that way. Although, I did have a positive experience a few months back. I invited a painter friend of mine to help me out with a failing painting...we ended up working all night on it together. It opened up some doors for me, that I may not have found on my own. The painting itself is so, so...but, some good discoveries were made.

My best collaborative experience was when I was in school. A painting professor and I spent the better part of one summer painting a mural in the university library. The thing was two stories tall, so we had to work on scaffolding. I felt like F***ing Diego Rivera up there...It was awesome!! If you are ever in the CSUH library, it is still there. It is a big abstract piece, unusual for a mural.

Black Bird, Mixed on Wood Panel, 24" x 24"

BS: Michael, tell us about your studio. What are the conditions you need in order to work. Do you prefer silence? Or do you enjoy listening to music while you create? Do you follow a routine or do you work sporadically?

MC: Music...of course. I do tend to follow a routine. Although, that is my life in general these days. I have two small children...family life has definitely made me more of a 9 - 5'er.

BS: Michael, do you have any suggestions for artists who are just starting out?

MC: I would just say...focus on what's most important, that being you work. The rest will figure itself out.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the artworld?

MC: My old painting professor use to say to me, before exiting the room..."Keep your Brushes wet"...I like that. Just keep working!
You can learn more about Michael Cutlip and his art by visiting his website: www.michaelcutlip.com. You can view my other interviews by visiting the following link: www.myartspace.com/interviews/
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this! Thank you so much! Enjoyed reading every word!