FANTASTICAL PAINTERS #1--Scott Eagle
I've been blessed with many opportunities to work with artists whose work I love, and whose work inspires my fiction. I'll be restricting this blog series on some of my favorites to painters who have illuminated my fiction, with a separate series on illustrators if my magpie eye doesn't alight upon some other shiny bauble in the meantime. I'll soon be writing about Alan M. Clark, Hawk Alfredson, and Myrtle Vondamitz III.
Scott Eagle's work has appeared on the covers of three of my books now: City of Saints & Madmen, Secret Life, and Why Should I Cut Your Throat?, as well as my author and Ambergris websites. (More importantly, Ann and my ketubah is an Eagle original--one of the most precious pieces of art we own.) For City of Saints and Secret Life, Scott created pieces specific to the books. The amazing City of Saints piece hangs in our livingroom, with Secret Life soon to follow. For Why Should I Cut Your Throat?, an existing piece happened to fit the book.
I am drawn to Scott's work by a dual sense of play and of the mysterious.
I am also drawn to it by the fact that he changes his style every few years. He's not locked into one particular approach. His latest paintings, for example, are influenced by his collaborations with his children. (Jpeg too big to reproduce here.)
Some of his older work was clearly influenced by his study of and appreciation for Bruegel, Da Vinci, and other painters of that type.
He's currently working on, among other projects, something called "The Tree of Life," which is literally a huge series of canvases depicting the tree of life. It includes some of his collage work, which I find interesting because of the way he so fully integrates it with his own painting.
He used this technique for City of Saints--photograph and cut-out buildings from Bruegel and Bosch paintings form the backdrop. Because he took the images from several different paintings, the light shone differently in each piece. So, Scott painted over each collage bit, redirecting the light and matching the brushstrokes of the old masters in doing so. It's a rather audacious accomplishment from a technical standpoint.
Scott also sometimes uses a power sander to get certain textural affects. It's no surprise to me that as the artist guest at La Grange College's slipstream conference a few years back he said that his initial influences included Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali, in addition to the Old Masters. You can see how he takes the new and the old and puts them all together in the service of his own iconography. The power of the paintings comes from what wells up out of Scott's subconsciousness. The playfulness also comes there, I believe.
My mother is a painter and I've grown up around paints and canvas and easels. I'm not a painter or an art critic. I just know what I like. I like the combinations of the primitive and sophisticated in Scott's work. I like how he changes his work. I like how each painting contains some detail, some subtext that defies easy comprehension on a first viewing.
You can find more of his work on his web site.
(Evil Monkey: "So...I thought I'd check in on you, see if you were hanging in there, given our last conversation." Jeff: "It's only been a couple of hours!" Evil Monkey: "So what. That's a century in cyberspace." Jeff: "I'll be fine. Exercise is saving me. Four hours yesterday lifting weights and riding the bike. An eight-mile run this morning. I don't even know where I am anymore. Or, rather, my muscles don't." Evil Monkey: "I don't have enough limbs to exercise. I can still do crunches, but that's about it." Jeff: "How did you lose your limbs?" Evil Monkey: "Dated the wrong woman." Jeff: "Oh.")