Voices of Experience - An Interview with Kurt Anderson
Voices of Experience
Kurt Anderson's formal training in fine arts gave him the skills he needed to produce the highest quality representational works. His unique voice in his painting came from time spent working on his own, painting en plein air and from live models. This intensity of study and practice have led him to receive multiple awards and honors nationally for his work. Anderson has also authored several books on painting. His work is represented in major collections and galleries and has been published in multiple arts publications. We asked him to start by writing about his background, artistic influences in his childhood and his time spent at the Richard Lack Atelier in Minneapolis.
I was always artistically inclined and was lucky to live in Germany for two years when I was beginning elementary school. Our family visited the capitals of Europe and the great cultural landmarks and museums there and they tell me I was particularly enthralled.
The long and short of it is that I left the University of Iowa and moved to Minneapolis, which is where Lack was located. I enrolled in the University of Minnesota, while at the same time taking classes from some of Lack’s students. Eventually he invited me to be one of the ten or so students in his atelier. I studied with him for four years. This pulled me away from my university studies, but I would eventually finish my BA in art at the University of Arizona. However, I consider Atelier Lack to be my formative education as an artist. Every morning we would arrange ourselves in a semicircle around a live model drawing or painting, and every afternoon we would work on casts, still lifes and live models in our own cubicles. For four years. It was wonderful! But it wasn’t perfect—at least not for me and my personality. What Lack gave me was an incredible respect for drawing, for precision, and for being true to subtleties of form and anatomy. But in an odd sense in leaving the university for the atelier, I left one narrow set of attitudes for another of the complete opposite kind. I felt the need to get away from the atelier and its academic orthodoxies in order to have the freedom to explore and discover the artist I wanted to be. And that was a process I pretty much carried out on my own. Central to that process was a lot of plein air painting, and a weekly habit of drawing and painting from models at whatever open studio opportunities I could find – something that I still do.
Would you tell us about your process from inspiration to final work?
If the subject is a person, I find that I do a lot of picking and choosing as I paint in terms of expression and gesture, etc. It is a dynamic process. The same with a flower set up. I spend a lot of time arranging the elements in just the right way, but as I paint it, there is a lot of picking and choosing as the elements themselves change. As I’m finishing the painting, I will usually find the need to add entirely new visual touches and elements that are not in my field of vision. So while nature is my starting point and guide, I am not wedded to it. I’m always thinking about what will make a visually interesting and satisfying picture, not whether it is perfectly true to what I’m seeing.
Please tell us your typical palette colors.
What words of encouragement or piece of advice would you give a beginning artist?
To see more of Kurt Anderson's work,
All artwork copyright Kurt Anderson
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