Thursday, January 31, 2008

Interview with Shane Verhaben

February 2008
BRRRRR! To break the cold chill of freezing February we present to you the inner, earth-warm tone of Shane Vorhaben. Shane’s has been on an art roll of late, popping up appetizing ink and watercolor imagery of tasty goodness. A master of pattern and soft-tinted hue Shane’s work will bring a little glow to that frosty heart of yours; just in time for the Hallmark Holiday otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. Sweet!

INTERVIEWED by Richard Mullins
So at what site on the planet were you born, got grown and where is your studio located here in the present day?
Let's see, I was born in Van Nuys, California, but moved to Tyler, TX when I was in the first grade. So, I'm basically from Texas. I lived in Texas throughout my college years (University of Texas as Tyler) and then moved to Missouri, where I currently, and begrudgingly reside. I'm really ready to make a move. I'm tired of living "in the middle". I would love to live on the west coast. I really feel Portland calling. I've never been there, but it seems to have a pretty cool art scene.
In your work I noticed a repeating character of sorts...a guy with a goatee and hair that sticks slick to his skull and is parted down the middle. What is the significance of
this.. a kind of every-man or self-portrait?
Well, it's definitely not a self portrait. I'm not exactly sure where it came from. I normally doodle quite a bit, and every now and then I'll draw a face that I really like. Recently I've been kind of stuck on round heads. Before that they were kind of rectangular with rounded edges....and the occasional square. Think I'm going to start
changing it up again and go with various odd shapes....which I'll
probably do for a while until I move on to the next shape/design. As far
as the goatee/mustache/beard thing goes, ...they're just fun to draw, and
they add a lot of character. And come on, who doesn't love a nice thick mustache. Like I always say, WWSEMD...What Would Sam Elliot's Mustache Do?
On occasion I sense a little Robert Hargrave and even maybe a touch of Aaron Nather in some of your stuff. Who are some of the artists you look to for inspiration?
I actually had to google Aaron Nather...I think I've seen some of his work before..great stuff....and I discovered Robert Hardgrave a month or so ago ..his work is really appealing to me...he has a brilliant sense of color and design...definitely an inspiration...and from what I've seen online and heard from others, he's a really great guy. That's always good to hear. As far as other sources of inspiration, there are so many. I love to go to the bookstore and look through their art books, magazines etc. If I see something I like I'll write the artist's name down and then check out their website when I get home. I love finding a great artist I wasn't aware of. Also, I'm always amazed at how many great artist's there are on Flickr...Dan May, Jason Limon, Alison O'Donoghue, Philip Kirk (bigheadedrobot), Colin Johnson, Jeremy Pruitt (thinkmule)...that's just a few..I know I've left so many of my favorites out..my apologies.....Flickr is definitely a source for inspiration. And everyone I've met on Flickr seems so friendly and ready to answer any questions I might have. It's a great little artistic community.
Sam and Rose have a "Lennon" moment is one of my favorites from your online collection of work. The swirling movement of the bodies creates a cozy composition. What inspired
this one and are there any plans for a Lennon-like erotic series?
I'm so glad you like "Sam and Rose have a 'Lennon' moment"..it's one of my personal favorites. I was actually listening to, and watching "jealous guy" on youtube. It was one of those photo montage videos. Anyway, one of the pictures was the one of John Lennon lying there naked with Yoko..I think it was used as a Rolling Stone cover..I'm not sure though. I just really loved the picture, and wanted to do something similiar to it. I actually did have plans to do a little "erotic" series...I looked through a few Kama Sutra books..( just for inspiration of course :) ) I've done a few sketches, but nothing major.
Since your work is subject based, how important is the narrative to you?
You know, to be honest, a lot of the time I never really think of the narrative. I suppose I try and leave that up to the viewer. I know a lot of people like to speculate on what an artist is trying to convey in a picture, and this might or might not be a letdown, but I normally just draw/paint what I think looks cool. Occasionally I'll do something that has a specific narrative that I'm trying to get across, but for the most part I'm just doing some that I find visually appealing. I think it's more fun to hear the stories that other people come up with to be honest.
Pattern plays a large role in many of your works. Is there a particular influence there?
I've never really thought about it. But thinking back now I guess I would have to say that when I was younger I was a big M.C.Escher and Aubrey Beardsley fan. M.C.Escher was my art hero all throughout Jr and High school. His precision and ideas were really amazing to me...still are. And Aubrey Beardsley's beautiful ,flowing, intricate black and whites are just incredible to me.
You work at very small sizes. Is this just your comfort zone or does the medium you use have something to do with it?
Yes I definitely tend to work small. I've done a few larger pieces, but they just seem to take forever with ink and watercolor and I'm always in a hurry to get to the next idea. I have dreams of doing really big canvases, and I always promise myself I'll start doing them. I've just never done anything w/acrylics, and I'm a little intimidated to learn something new. Maybe I need to buy some Bob Ross instructional videos. How can you go wrong watching someone with a sweet white mans afro paint "happy little trees".....come on, that's just a little slice of Heaven here on Earth.
What is a Moleskine Cashier? I'm in a group on Flickr called Moleskine Alchemists that I thought was a kind of cartoon animal thing. (This is an art trend I haven't been schooled on.)
Ha ha...A Moleskine cashier is just a small paperbound Moleskine. It's not hardbound like the normal ones. Basically just a simple black overpriced sketchbook. They come in a variety of sizes and with various kinds of paper: sketch, gridded, lined, blank, music, fold out...and more. They've become sort of an addiction for me, and many others. I just really like the size and durability of them. And I love drawing on the really thin , cream colored paper...it's very slick, and takes watercolor remarkably well. I've tried all sorts of sketchbooks, but they are by far my favorite. You can check out www.moleskinerie.com for more info.
How do the subjects for your paintings come to you? I'm guessing you keep a regular sketchbook and choose from the doodling?
Absolutely, I'm always drawing in my sketchbook. I'll "doodle" while I'm watching tv, on the phone, even while I'm working on another picture...to relieve the monotony. And every now and then something comes along that I really like and want to expand on. It's also good to keep a sketchbook by the bed for when you have an idea that you need to jot down. I've lost so many ideas because I thought I would remember them when I woke up.
Are there any outside influences such as a style of musicor kind of film or television show you like to "soak up" while you paint?
For the most part I just put my Ipod on shuffle. I'm really big on singer-songwriter's...Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, Joe Purdy, Counting Crows, Tom Waits, Brandi Carlile, Rachael Yamagata...many, many more. As far as tv goes, I'll just put it on the Discovery or History channel. That way I can just listen to it. I probably listen to more tv than I actually watch. Recently I've discovered a channel called Ovation...they show a lot of documentaries about artists. Just watched a great one about Chuck Close...that guy is amazing.
Any future art plans your fans out there might want to know of?
As far as the future goes, I'm just going to keep plugging away , doing my thing. I do have plans to seek out an art rep. to try and get into book/magazine illustration. And I'd love to do some gallery shows.

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Michael h said...

Awesome interview Shane!! Love the stuff. Keep it up.

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