14 questions for local artist David Early

<strong>“Saturday Night,” oil on canvas</strong>
Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

In 100 words or less, what do you do as an artist?
I’m primarily a painter however am always interested in photography, sculpture and filmmaking.

What motivates you to create art?
It is what I do best, and, without it, I’ve lost my best friend. Oh, yes…and the money is also nice.

How has your practice changed over time?
I’m much faster, controlled and calculated now than in the past. My editing skills have also made the process of making art that much more enjoyable. It is now rare for me that halfway through a painting I ask myself, “Why am I creating this?” This conflict still arises, just not as often.
<strong>Self-portrait, graphite on paper</strong>
Do you ever get artist’s block? If so, how do you combat it?
Yes, I do get artist’s block as with most artists, I suppose. I’m usually two or three years ahead of myself in terms of ideas. My current project is based on redefining the American-style life. An idea I had back in 2010. I’m just now getting there.

What do you think your life would be like if, for some reason, you could no longer create art?
It would be very lonely. To be creative on a day-to-day is a true honor, and I am very grateful to be able to do this professionally. For me, I must feed my soul– creating art accomplishes this welcome task.

What role does the artist have in society?
To be honest with themselves and create work that is for the now and future.

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?
It doesn’t bother me at all. I do feel artists have a certain responsibility to verbally express their opinions on their own art. The key is that it is not required to make an artwork successful.

Have you ever been banned or censored to any degree as an artist? If so, how did you react? If not, how do you think you would react in that situation?
Yes, I have been banned many times. Some of my top clients include California Pizza Kitchen, Marie Callender’s, El Torito, Las Brisas and Disney, to name a few. I once had a designer I work with accuse my fruit and vegetable still lifes as having sex written all over them, or rather, painted all over them. I had to alter them accordingly. I also had my large, oversized orchid oils pulled from an Orange County restaurant– again, too suggestive. For a client, I understand, and I do make necessary changes, if need be. My gallery work is another story and yes, some of my works have even been banned in certain venues. C’est la vie.
<strong>“Lost in Shag,” oil on linen</strong>

Does your artistic life ever get lonely? If so, what do you do to counteract it?
Yes, of course. As primarily an easel painter, I find that there are many, many consecutive hours that I am left alone in my studio. I usually paint more to avoid loneliness– I don’t concentrate on loneliness while I am in that act of creating.

What do you hope to achieve with your art?
This is not an easy question to answer as I can go on and on. I suppose in a tiny nutshell it would be an honor for me if my work enabled viewers to look at the mundane differently. To understand that art can make a difference in the world, one piece at a time is something I advocate. To help kick-start conversation, opinion and debate through art is my contribution to humanity.

What are one or two primary areas of fear for you as an artist?
Number-one fear would be that I don’t get a viewer reaction from my work– positive or negative doesn’t really matter to me. However, I would prefer more than a yawn. Second fear is that my work does not stand up to the test of time. It would please me most if others saw my work as timeless, without following a fad (style of the week) or what colors are hot for the season.

What are one or two factors that, when they’re in place, enable you to really flourish artistically?
I flourish artistically most when my schedule is completely full. I like to be busy with several different project deadlines due at one time. Helps to put my mind in a vacuum and only concentrate on creating art and nothing else. I doubt I would do very well secluded in a tiny chateau in the south of France painting at my leisure without the pressure of time constraints. I’ve done that already.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
While I was working on my degree from CSUF, I worked as a graphic artist. Still in the arts, however a different area of concentration. Oh, I was also a server at Marie Callender’s in Orange County, which was a complete disaster. I knew my days were numbered as a server after I accidentally spilled a carafe of Margaritas on a custumer’s lap.

What’s your favorite color?
Sang rouge (blood red).
<strong>“St. Erasmus,” oil on vinyl</strong>

Early will be one of the artists participating in the Long Beach Open Studio Tour on Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13. For more information, visit lbopenstudiotour.com . To see more of Early’s work, visit davidearlystudio.com or davidearlyfineart.com .

Culture, Imitating Life

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