It is with great pleasure to introduce David Ridgway, a local artist who resides here in Washington State.
A collection of his artwork along with other Northwest artists is currently on exhibit at the Karla Matzke Gallery and Sculpture Park, so if you’re in the area be sure to check it out (details below).
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Whereabouts do you live now?
I was born in Seattle and lived in the area until I was 14, at which time my family moved to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I lived in Maine until the mid 80s when I headed to the Caribbean to work on a friend’s ketch. Met my wife in St. Croix and we headed for Maui with a friend. Ended staying for 5 years and it is where I studied color with Richard Nelson and got my start as a professional artist. We then spent several years in Maine and Maryland near family and friends. A CBS Sunday Morning feature about a local sculptor inspired a move to Orcas Island in the San Juan’s in 98 and we were there for 12 years. Bellingham is now our home.
Has art always been your passion? How did it develop?
I was always interested in drawing and painting as a child. My family had a strong interest in the visual arts and many painter, sculptor and photographer friends. I majored in Art at college but am primarily self taught.
How would you describe your art? How has it evolved?
The oil paintings I have been doing for several years have developed from an attraction to architecture in the landscape and how man relates to place. The work seems to get more simplified at times and then veers back to details. While on Orcas I did quite a bit of on site painting. Lately it has been more studio work.
Describe your workspace. What gets you in the mood to create new artwork?
I work in our converted 2 car garage which we finished during the remodel of our mid-century ranch home in 2010. It has track lights, heat and a small wood shop.
Seeing a new intriguing architectural situation in the landscape has always been an inspiration. Lately, creating something visually compelling on my iPhone or iPad has also been a strong impetus.
What are some of your inspirations? How do you keep the momentum going?
Seeing other work of painting’s I admire is always an inspiration, especially those whose work leaves some of the process visible. Visiting a new location is always stimulating. I recently went to Palm Springs to see the Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley Years exhibit and found the trip rewarding. Having shows scheduled is also a good reason to keep moving forward.
How much has digital art influenced you? Were you open to it from the very start?
I got my first Mac in 97 ( 2GB drive) and started playing with Photoshop and Painter using a graphics pad. I used some of those images as reference for oil paintings early on. While on Orcas, I used my PowerBook and graphics pad for life drawing. Now I use an iPhone 5 and iPad to draw, paint and manipulate photos digitally and am using some as reference for abstract/non-representational paintings.
In the digital era, everything is at one’s fingertips. I wonder if this, in turn, makes you lean toward creating on your mobile device(s)? If not, how do you balance both mediums?
I have found my iPhone and iPad to be convenient tools for capturing a scene or moment, sketching and creating abstract digital imagery. Useful more as sketch pads or preliminary drawing media, as opposed to creating an end product, when I’m using them for reference. My ‘for Instagram only’ pieces may show up somewhere else eventually and I have sold some prints made with PrintStudio and canvas prints through twenty20.com. Having new tools with which to work does create the need to keep things in balance. The ‘always with you’ aspect of the iPhone adds to the immediacy and freshness of imagery. Many of my paintings lately have used iPhone images and digital sketches. Hands on, paint to canvas does remain my first love.
What app(s) do you use most? And why?
A year and a half ago a friend on Instagram, Julie, posted an Android glitched image and I asked her about it. She mentioned Decim8 and I tried it. Since then I have tried many apps and have several I use regularly: Snapseed, Picgrunger, Superimpose, Artrage and lately Photoshop Touch. I occasionally use Hipstamatic and Oggl to capture or post edit. Decim8 remains my favorite editing tool using Sigstop and Graboid effects. It creates a broken collage effect that I find appealing. Combining Decim8 with the weathered grunge effect in Picgrunger adds depth and visual interest.
What do you foresee for the future? Will you continue to transfer digital to painting?
I am intrigued by mobile photography/graphics manipulation apps and particularly what artists, fine art photographers and designers are doing with the medium. I plan to continue interpreting my digital images in oil and mixed media. Some of the digitally referenced work is informing my more representational paintings as well.
Do you feel that art enthusiasts appreciate digital art as much as fine arts? What are your thoughts regarding this topic?
New tools and media are often adopted early by painters and photographers. The advent of smartphones and tablets has created a revolutionary movement in the visual arts. Art enthusiasts are becoming more aware and accepting. The younger generation has already embraced it.
Have you been in any exhibits showcasing your digital art? What response have you gotten?
I had several digitally referenced abstract paintings in a show with two other painters entitled ‘Driven to Abstraction’ at Simon Mace Gallery in Port Townsend, WA in December. The show was well received and it was inspiring talking with people about the new work.
Which painters do you admire?
Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell, Picasso, Lois Dodd, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Peter Doig and many more.
Which digital artists do you admire?
I was born and have spent most of my life in Western Washington.
I enjoy painting the local landscape on-site or in studio. My work often is about the places where man and the landscape coincide. Architectural and other man-made objects feature prominently. My compositions are more about interlocking colored shapes than a realistic depiction of a specific place.
I occasionally enjoy working in a series based on a favored location. The series often acquires more simplified and/or playful imagery over time.
The path I have taken in making my paintings resembles meandering stepping-stones that often take an unforeseen turn. Conveying my pleasure in the process of painting is a primary intention. Lately I am also interpreting abstract digital imagery created on mobile devices in mixed media and oil. I have been working digitally since 1997.
My work is included in the recently released book ‘100 Artists of the Northwest’ by E. Ashley Rooney and Karla Matzke.
An exhibit with 25 of the included artists is currently at Karla Matzke Gallery and Sculpture Park, Camano Island, WA.
March 1st-April 23rd.