Getting Better Acquainted

StClaire Art Studio (Asheville)

A couple weeks ago, I received an email by a studio visitor that wanted to include me in their blog. Of course, I said yes because I love attention. :) Here is some of the questions he asked. (And by the way, if you have questions about my artwork or about art in general), feel free to email me. I'm very happy to answer questions or give art advice!


Q. Your website mentions various you venturing into dialuminism around 2001. What made you want to start painting this way? 

A. About 17 years ago, I was at an outdoor street art festival in Mt. Dora, FL. At that event, there was an artist that had a booth filled with Greek Orthodox icons. These were legit. He was painting with hand-ground pigments and traditional gel mediums. They were amazing. I had never, ever seen the color of paint do what it was doing on top of 24c gold. It was incredibly rich and intense. After about an hour in the booth, I went home with an idea. I had to try painting on top of gold leaf (I had a couple scraps around) using the medium I was familiar with (oil paint) to see if it could possibly work. And it did. And then I realized I did not need gold to achieve the effect I wanted. Gold works because it is reflective. After a good deal of hunting around for a metallic leaf that would work, I found Italian aluminum leaf (the most pure aluminum leaf there is). That is what I paint on. And I do that because it reflects light back through my paint, creating a "backlit" oil painting. And I do that because when you back-light pigment (as in a stained glass window), you greatly intensify the color.

Q. What is your favorite piece that you've created? 

A. Whatever I happen to be working on at the moment. I'm serious. Every piece I do is my favorite one I've ever done as I'm working on it.

Q.  Who’s your biggest inspiration as an artist?

A. Makoto Fujimura. He is a Japanese-American artist who paints atop metallic leaf as well.

Q. What drew you to the River Arts District? Why Asheville? 

A. In Asheville, in the River Arts District (at least for right now), I can have a art studio that is open to the public six days a week, and because there is a unique community of over 200 artists within a square mile all of whom are basically doing the same thing, there is enough of a presence to attract people from all over the country (and other countries) to our square mile. And because of that, artists can actually make a living creating their art and selling direct to the client.  (Some art studios I recommend in the area.) 

Q.  Do you know of anyone else in the River Arts District who deserves some exposure?

A. Yes. Daniel McClendon (an awesome abstract wild-animal painter), Cindy Walton (one of my favorite cold wax painters) and Matt Tommey (he makes incredible baskets out of wild vines native to the WNC area).

Q. Is Joy also a painter?

A. Yes. Joy is a painter and awesome #1 assistant. She works on her own pieces (all the small work -- she says she doesn't have the patience for the larger pieces). And she assists me on various steps of my work when I'm slammed. A lot of the gold edges on my paintings have been applied by Joy and she's applied a good deal of the aluminum leaf faces I paint on. And she runs to Walmart and Michael's for art supply runs. I am deeply in debt. 

Q.  Any future developments worth mentioning? 

A.  Always. I'm real excited about a 12' long installation piece (on twelve panels) that I sent to the gallery in Oklahoma City that represents me (Kasum Contemporary Fine Art). I'm experimenting with a new idea (also for a large installation piece) featuring aluminum leaf and dichromic film on clear plex panels. This could be super cool because the color of the panels change depending on the angle you are when you see it. I mean, it changes from yellow to orange to blue as you walk around it. More to come on this.

Asheville Channel Interview

Asheville Channel Interview

Last week, and again yesterday, some really nice folks from the Asheville Channel came out to my studio for an interview (so I tried to sound like I was super interesting) and to take photos and video. So if you're interested in my work, or interested in practically anything to do with Asheville, check out the Asheville Channel: And...thanks Mario! You're team is awesome!