David Mudrinich lives in Pope County Arkansas and is a drawing and painting professor in the Department of Art at Arkansas Tech University. He studied at Penn State University and the University of Georgia and works in a variety of drawing and painting media. His work is exhibited widely and has received awards on both the regional and national level. Exhibitions include shows at the Arkansas Arts Center, Butler Institute of American Art, Springfield Art Museum, Clinton Presidential Center, Wichita Center for the Arts, Schenectady Museum, St. John’s University and Georgia Southern University. Public collections of his work include the William J. Clinton Foundation; Hendrix College; Arts and Science Center of Southeast Arkansas; State of Georgia Art Collection; Athens-Clarke County Courthouse, GA; North Georgia College & State University; Parkersburg Art Center, WV and St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria , LA.
Ozark Beehives, pastel and charcoal, 18" x 26", $950
Yeah, it’s a question that gets asked a lot, but I’m going to ask it again: What inspires you?
Visual experience inspires me. By That I mean the actual, physical experience of using all of my senses at a particular location or event. I can be stimulated by a grand vista or something as common place as the corner of a backyard if the colors, textures and content grab my attention and make my mind spin.
What do you find to be the hardest aspect to being
It is really finding enough time to work through my ideas and create a finished work of art. Like most people in any walk of life, we all have multiple responsibilities that must be met. To have an extended, uninterrupted chunk of time is rather rare. I sometimes find myself working in a smaller scale just so I can complete more ideas quickly.
What role do you see the artist playing in a community?
Well, since I teach art at Arkansas Tech University, part of the role that I play is in education. That includes exposing people to histories, cultures, different mediums and ways people have and can express themselves. But, an artist doesn’t have to have a formal position to contribute to the mental growth of a community. Every artist has something to share and their art can often unite people in thought who otherwise may not have too much in common. Artists can also serve as visual journalists by presenting current issues or events in a more unique format for the public to see. Art can be therapy. And, if you don’t take yourself too seriously, art can provide pure entertainment.
Do you have a preferred medium that you use, and why does it just click with you when you create?
I work with a wide variety of 2D media. When I begin to get a little bored or predictable with a medium I switch into something different. Drawing provides such an immediate response to things. I often draw onsite using charcoal, graphite, watercolor or pastel because they are all very portable and require very little prep in the field. For longer, larger more finished studio work I tend to work in oil paint.
Did you ever have that "aha!" life-changing moment with a piece of art in your formative years? What was it and how did it affect you?
When I was in my 20’s living in Georgia, I was struggling with finding my place in the world and what role art would play within my life. My wife Eve and I were newly married and without much money or health insurance. Soon we were to have the responsibility of being new parents. In a bold and somewhat desperate move I approached the hospital where we were living and asked them if they would be willing to trade a painting for a baby. The director looked at me quite surprised and said no one had ever done that before! There was a pause and then she said, “You know, we have been trying to think of what to do with that wall next to the elevators…”
Well the swap was completed and the whole experience gave me the confidence to begin pushing my work and creating my own venues. Public response to my work increased and I eventually got commissions from the city, the county and the state working with my panoramic landscape themes.
What is your biggest thrill at the opening reception for a show of your work?
Just that someone would be interested enough to attend and look at the work.
If you had the ability to take a class or workshop with any artist, who would it be?
I could think of just dozens and dozens of people on this…but if I had to pick one, I would probably choose Diego Rivera right now. I’ve seen his 27 fresco panels creating the Detroit Industry murals located within the Detroit Institute of Art. I sat there for over a half hour absorbed in these images. The blend of both content and design was mesmerizing. I am very receptive to his motivation, though I don’t really create things in that style of composition. This would be more rewarding to me than working with someone who just would reinforce what I already do..
Sometimes artists feel that their studio is something of a sacred place to them. It can be very personal for them, and allowing others in can make them uncomfortable. Is your studio like this? How do your see your studio or workspace?
I like to work a lot on site, so that aspect of the studio to me is an open world with images or ideas originating from direct observation. Listening to the sounds of birds flying over, or the distant drone of a chainsaw or gunfire helps define the space I am attracted to. This is sometimes just visual note taking to reference light and space. Other times, I complete finished works that are generated solely from in the field.
For larger or more complex work, I work out of my home studio which is a modified garage that is in a constant state of metamorphosis. It is strictly utilitarian and doesn’t have a hangout or gallery atmosphere at all.
Who do you consider to be big influences on you and your work? It doesn't have to be another visual artist. I know for myself several of my influences come from practitioners of different art forms.
To pick visual artists on this would be a list that never ever ends. I do find reinforcement for what I do through reading the works of people like poet Gary Snyder and writer Wendell Berry. They can both take the simplest observation and present it as a vital component towards the endurance of a larger world. I can visualize the experience they write about.
How big of an impact is music on your creative process? Many of the artists I know have to listen to music while they create. If it's a big part of your process, what do you listen to?
Music is not a part of the creative side of what I do at all. If I am doing something mechanical in the studio like sanding wood or applying gesso to panels I will listen to rock, new age, world music, anything but opera. But when I’m drawing or painting, I fall into the zone of what I am creating pretty quickly and I wouldn’t hear it anyway.
Thank you David for taking the time to give us a little insight into yourself as an artist!