Friday, April 17th, 2009
It’s not every day we spotlight a new artist, but Eric Fortune is eminently worthy of mention. In the recent past, Eric has been making excellent forward progress with his fine art career. With contributions to shows in several galleries, his most substantial offering to date is now up at LeBasse Projects, in a sold-out exhibition entitled “Lost In Light”. His renditions are sublime, with extremely adroit technique – products of an arduous process. We interviewed Eric about the present moment in his art and much more. Read on for our exchange with one of our favorite new voices:
Your technique appears very time-consuming. Can you explain your process?
Well, the technique is very time consuming. But there is a process that takes place before I even consider picking up the brush. First of all I need a good idea or concept. A good sketch. Once I have that I’ll do quick value/color studies to try and figure out a basic direction of where I want to take the image. Then there is reference. For a lot of background ref I just look online. For my figures I use friends and family because of easy access and they’re cheap After loosely transferring the sketch onto the watercolor paper I use my reference and apply the information in the photo while trying to retain the freshness and style of my original drawing.
I paint with acrylics watered down with…..water. I apply it in very thin washes, in a very watercolor based technique with some glazing and some scumbling here and there. Early in the painting I tend to do large wet on wet washes to establish a general tone and value in the piece. It takes many layers of paint to build up the desired affect. If I make a mistake and have to paint over an area the opaque acrylic looks very different from the rest of the transparent washes. So I have to be very careful. I’m still playing around with how much opaque paint I may want to have in the future. I try to plan out most of the painting. However, I also try to leave room for some spontaneity.
Can you tell us about your influences? Have they changed since your art school training?
I’ve always been more value oriented. Dramatic lighting and high contrast. I discovered John Palencar and Michael Whelan in college. And I really connected with their work. They have a quiet sense of surreal imagery. Phil Hale is another artist I really admire. He has this amazing kinetic energy in his paintings. There are many others, mostly contemporary illustrators. I also love Japanese anime. Although, I think it affects my work in a subtle way. Recently I’ve been trying to expose myself to more and more art. I don’t have any specific names but I try to glean what I can from whatever I see and experience.
Do you see your work staying on paper? Do you think it could move into other media?
I plan on trying my hand at oils again. It’s been about ten years so I’m a bit anxious but excited as well. I’ll probably try working on Canvas. Although, I really like working with acrylic and watercolor paper and I think I’ll continue to do so for a long time.
What are some of the references that appear across your work, such as the ‘slices’?
Some of my recent work deals with people and their relationships to other people mostly, sometimes dealing with their circumstances in life. For me, the slice is kind of a metaphor for pain or hardship etc. Although manifested physically I mostly think of them as rooted in emotions.
Do you feel like you are still exploring your aesthetic through technical methods?
Sure, to an extent. My technique is obviously an integral part of my work. Although, it hasn’t really changed a whole lot since graduating college I’ve learned to be more refined in some areas and to try and let go in others. I think the content of my work is more so what I’m currently exploring.
Ultimately, would you prefer to have your work be showcased in a gallery setting or in more mainstream channels?
So far working with galleries has been a refreshing change.
How do you view the art world and your place in it?
I was starting to gain recognition within illustration. Now I’m focusing on my personal work in the fine arts scene. Though I have a few years under my belt I feel I’m still in my infancy. But I’m always trying my best to improve, expand, and really push my work to the next level whatever that may be.
Do you find this present moment particularly interesting or inspiring?
Most definitely. The freedom I currently have to express myself is very inspiring. Initially it also came with some anxiety. But with every piece I do I’m regaining confidence in my work.
Is there anything you would like to mention that hasn’t been covered?
I feel like the timing for this transition is good for me. I feel more mature as an artist. Had I been thrust into these circumstances earlier I’m not sure the work would be up to par. Technically perhaps but maybe not on other levels.
For an interesting look inside the artist’s studio, he has posted several videos on YouTube. Keep watching him emerge as a strong new force in the scene.