Ahead of our two-person show (opening November 11) featuring paintings by Jimmy Craig Womble and David Shingler, we sat down with each artist to find out what makes them tick. In this interview, David Shingler shares some little-known aspects of his process and career. Since both artists are painters, you will find their work on our sister website, www.adamcavefineart.com.
Adam Cave (AC) – David, thanks for sitting down today for a talk. In my recent interview with Jimmy Craig Womble, we got into some of the challenges of being an artist with young kids. You and your wife Grace have a two-year-old daughter. How has she impacted your work as an artist?
David Shingler (DS) – Frankly, she has made me a better painter, but not in the way you might think. My daughter, and my wife, have motivated me to work harder than ever because I really want to be a sole provider for both of them. This has meant more time in the studio, longer hours, more paintings. And, the upshot of painting more is that I feel like my skills and creativity as an artist have really improved just from doing so much more.
AC – So, your improvement is a byproduct of working hard to make a living. You seem pretty practical about the “making a living” aspect of your career. How do you balance the business needs with the desire to be purely creative?
DS – I really prefer not to try and be creative. I am more of the mindset that if you simply get in the studio, put a brush in your hand, and do the work, a more natural form of creativity will result. Often I am not trying to be expressive at all and then I will step back and see glimpses of something very personal. It is exciting to discover it that way.
AC – You talk about all this “work” but your paintings seem so loose. Am I missing something?
DS – The “work” or time in the studio is very intense but I have intentionally chosen an approach to painting that favors quickness and looseness. I love the energy of these pieces and don’t want to overwork them. As soon as I try to exert too much control over a painting I tend to mess it up. I paint in oils, wet on wet, which means that I don’t allow one layer of paint to dry before beginning with another. I work on the whole painting at once and try and finish it all in a single day, sometimes 4-5 hours total of intense painting. It is face-paced but also exhausting.
AC – Was this a process you were taught in art school? Or something you have come to from experience?
DS – Actually, in art school I was focused on kinetic sculpture and glass blowing. I took two years of painting classes but, at the time, was much more interested in conceptual art.
AC – Explain kinetic sculpture to me because that is not a term one hears every day.
DS – I made a whole series of drawing machines that were controlled by natural elements like wind, water, or the movement and sound of birds. In each case, various mechanical and electrical parts connected the natural elements to a pencil or pen that would react and create a drawing. After school I moved out to Denver, Colorado and pursued gallery and museum shows for this work but I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Meanwhile, I was painting landscapes and cityscapes on the side and increasingly finding an audience for those works. I eventually transitioned into a full-time painter.
AC – Colorado and that whole section of the Southwest has some pretty dramatic landscape. Once you moved to North Carolina, did you find the different landscape a challenge to paint?
DS – Absolutely. When I go out to the Outer Banks the ocean and beaches represent an entirely new challenge. And, when I visit the Blue Ridge Mountains, I find myself looking at real woods packed full of trees, no sky in sight. Turning these subjects into good paintings is a challenge I am enjoying. But, like and change, it takes time to get to know the new scenery and really see what is in front of you. At the start, you don’t really know what you are looking for because you still have preconceived ideas of what you “should see”.
AC – Do you paint on location when you travel? Plein-air?
DS – No. I am exclusively and unapologetically a studio artist. I take hundreds of photographs when I am traveling and later, when time allows, pick through to find ones that will make good paintings. These are really separate activities and it may be months or more before I paint a subject that I photographed. In many ways, this gives me more freedom in the studio because I am less interested recreating what I saw, and more interested in making a good painting.
AC – Do you still get out west or are you exclusively ours now?
DS – I travel back to Denver regularly where I maintain some galleries and clients. We try to make a family trip out there every year and this past Summer I was asked to teach a 4-day workshop. I thought I would never teach art but it went well and I hope to do it again at some point.
AC – Maybe the teaching is part of your whole career coming full circle. Kind of like being a dad. This has been great David and I am very excited to see the new work we will have in the show. Thank you so much for taking the time talk with me today.
DS – Thank you Adam. I enjoyed it and look forward bringing you the new paintings soon.
The new show for Jimmy Craig Womble and David Shingler opens on Saturday, November 11 with a public artist reception from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Click HERE for an artist vitae and list of collections. Adam Cave Fine Art is located at 2009 Progress Court, Raleigh, NC 27608. Regular hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00 pm.