San Francisco-based artist Tyler Scheidt's paintings are so gorgeously textural and brilliantly hued; I love his mix of abstract form and suggestions of light and dimensionality in the paint applied like shadows, which calls attention to the surface itself, and reinforces each painting as an ostensibly two-dimensional artwork, while at the same time questioning that very concept. A wonderful interview here, and more at the links afterward, of course!
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First, tell me a bit about you! Where are you from originally, and where are you based now?
I grew up on the east coast of the US, Pennsylvania mostly, and have been in California now for the past four years. The west coast has amazing landscapes and the weather isn’t too shabby either.
What first interested you in making art?
Like many other artists, I loved to draw as a kid. As I got older and looked at a lot of art books in the library, I began to realize that I was not limited by a pencil and a piece of notebook paper.
Moving forward many years, It was when I discovered printmaking and collage while I was in school that I became very interested and dedicated to making art seriously. Working with those mediums shifted my intentions of how I worked. It became less about depiction and more about thinking through the act of making.
What has your art education been like, whether informally or formally? Any ups and/or downs that helped shape how you approach your practice?
I have always been interested in art. However, my understanding of it has changed over the years. I entered college with the intention to study science and math. These are interests that I still have and influence me today, but at that point I really hadn’t considered studying art. I was half way through college when I decided to commit myself to majoring in fine art. After my undergraduate degree, I did spent a year at The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. This was my first experience at an art school and being around so many other artists for the first time really opened up my perspectives. After that year I decided to go through the MFA program at MassArt. I think graduate school really helped me further understand the context of fine art in the world and helped me understand place in it as well.
You incorporate purposeful areas of texture into your paintings, paired with some portions that appear to have shadows. Can you describe a bit about the significance of this quasi 3-dimensionality in these instances?
Much of my process in painting is stemmed from the roots of my practice, which is printmaking and collage. As I started working more with paint, I would build images the same way through a process of many layers. The result is that there becomes a of dialog between the parts. The texture and shadows work together to create feeling of depth and shallowness in the image and bring attention the physicality of the painting itself. I like paintings that are physical, and this range of texture is a tool to make space, and for the material to become more than the sum of its parts.
What is your process like? Do you do any research, which informs your work?
I keep a sketchbook with very loose drawings, which usually act as a starting point for a painting. Much of the process happens on the surface of the painting and many pieces have been painted over several times. I also work reductively, scraping away paint to reveal the layers of the past. This push and pull way of working allows images to form organically. It is also one of the main reasons I began painting, because it allows much more freedom and the ability to move in any direction.
I have always been interested in how the world works and our relationship to it’s systems. Working abstractly is a way to grapple with an understanding of this reality on a metaphysical level, and how abstraction can parallel that experience.
Can you describe your studio or workspace?
I love the studio I have right now and I was lucky enough for a friend to pass it down to me. Its in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco behind some old warehouses right on the water with lots of natural light. My previous space was like a dungeon, so this has been an upgrade for sure. Hopefully this place will last. It’s in one of the fastest changing neighborhoods in the city however, and building developers usually have no remorse for artists.
Do you have any routines or rituals that get you in the best mode for creating?
I’ve usually got music playing most of the time. Also, I usually chill in my dangerously comfortable chair for a bit and think before I start painting.
What do you do if you find yourself at a creative standstill?
If I feel like I am getting lost in my process or all of my paintings are lousy, I will try to take a step back and just draw for a while. Maybe make some collages on paper. That way I can come back with a new mind. Sometimes I try to force the paintings forward. Its rare when that actually works out well, but it can happen. If all else fails, I will usually open up the painting again by blacking out or white washing 90% of the canvas and starting again from there.
What do you consider the most challenging part of pursuing your practice, whether creatively or professionally?
For me, every painting is just as much of a struggle as the last. Like a game of chess, each move informs the next and I am constantly battling with myself trying to find the next best decision.
Also, living in the Bay Area is not cheap. That being said, I have to work a lot which limits my time. Although California is beautiful and exciting, and I still think its worth it.
If you could meet up with anyone for lunch or drinks, and talk about anything, who would it be and what would you want to chat about?
I think it would be pretty cool to hang with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and talk about the universe.
What are you working on right now?
Several smaller sized paintings. Every once in a while I will make a big painting, but I have been enjoying small works recently. Seems like I can take more risks and work faster.
Anything else you would like to add?
Work hard, and work smart.
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