Artist Interview: Andrew S. Conklin
By Sean Connor
Could you tell us a little about your self, your history and experience with art before arribing at the Academy of Art University?
My Earliest memories of drawing were of copying Audubon bird prints in color pencil, following the example of my older brother. While continuing to draw, I did not consider the fine arts and occupational choice, having no clear concept of the life of a professional artist. My first experience painting was in an undergraduate course in Chicago, and the frustration I felt spurred me to want to master the form, particularly in painting people. Luckliy, just after that term, a friend invited me to join him in NYC, where we would study at the National Academy of Design. I stayed in New York for sixteen years, during which I studied with a range of incredible painters. In addition, my colleagues were also an imprtant source of inspiration. Also critical were anual trips to Europe to see the great Western painting in situ. Finally, my wife, Helen, whom I met while a student, and who subsequently trained as a paintings conservator, sparked my interest in the technical aspects of painting. She and I eventually relocated to Chicago. It was while teaching there that I was encouraged to pursue an MFA, which is how I learned of the Academy of Art's program.
Did you have any rewarding experiences or intereactions with teachers while you studied at the Academy?
Absolutely! Notwithstandingmy prior experience as a visual artist and teacher, I found my understanding of picture-making deepened through the courses and the wisdom of my instructors, both in studio and art history courses. This dedication by the Academy faculty bore fruit in my thesis project, where, in working with Sean Connor, Warren Chang and Zack Zdrale, I combinedmy interest in the human form with that of CGI technology to create a series of paintings set in a motion catupture studio.
Are you having any upcoming shows that you'd like to share with us?
This April, my wife Helen and I will be subjects of a two person show at Chicago's Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts. She and I have been painting together since we met in art school in NYC, and occasionally show together. This show will be a bit different, since it will highlight much of our working process and contain sketches, cartoons, oil studies as wall as finshed work.
What advice would you give to students?
Several things: First, find a hero or heros. Artists whose work you admire, and whose biography and catalog you can study thoroughly. A working artist can remain in dialog with a master regardless of their origins, whether the artist is alive or dead, or even what they intended in their work. It is a source of inspiration for you to draw from. Second, revise! Always look for ways to improve an idea or design. Third, draw as much as possible: It trains your hand but more importantly, it keeps you curious.
To see more of Andrew's paintings visit his website.