For our first show of 2019, we're featuring the stunning works of Eureka artist Jon Bout. Free posters of four select pieces will be available starting January 9th.
My work utilizes found amateur photography as well as my own family photographs as reference. The found photographs I collect have been discarded or left behind, while the photographs of my relatives and distant family are from a time unknown to myself. They both bear similar archaic qualities or obscured histories. These photographs themselves are objects of my exploration. By translating them into the mediums of drawing or painting an echo is created that asks for pause. My work hints at the visual commonalities of how we record and interpret our histories through photography. And through this shallow lens of recognizable fragments within a much broader unknown, the line between intimacy and anonymity is blurred, and a sense of familiarity can be found in the foreign.
Did you have an interest in art before coming to Humboldt County? How has Humboldt culture/landscape affected your practice?
Like most children I had a love for creating, so much so that I could focus for hours whether it was drawing from the books of Ed Emberley or building inventions with Legos. I just kept that focus as I grew up. Eventually art became one of the main reasons I continued school after secondary education. I used to visit Humboldt growing up and it was always this enchanting place that seemed content with being removed from the urban cities of California. This atmosphere has had a huge impact on my own artistic practice. It is really a privilege to experience little fragments of solitude in such a beautiful place. Of course, I’m lucky enough to have family and friends locally but the combination of both is really what helps me clear my mind in order to create. I do enjoy the city life and all the benefits it offers for art but having a certain level of detachment from the constant fast pace I feel able to explore and make what I want.
Which artists, if any, influence your work and why?
Gerhard Ritcher has been a major influence on my work. I often look to both the style and subject matter of his photographic paintings especially with my black-and-white drawings. I most recently have been enthralled by the work of Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, and Hung Liu. Most of these artist work with interpreting photographs or film stills in some way. I actually had the wonderful experience of visiting Liu’s studio in Oakland a few years ago as part of class. I was not only fascinated with her style and methods but also her own personal experiences and how she reflected them so clearly in her paintings. Those are just a few artists but really there are so many influences out there especially today with social media platforms. I find myself discovering and following immensely talented artists which no doubt has some form of influence on my work.
How do you go from concept to finished work?
The initial stages of my process are collecting and re-documenting. I find so many old photographs and already have many family pictures, but this part of the process takes a significant amount of time. Sometimes there are photographs that I intend to use, and I’ve had for years before starting an actual painting/drawing of them. Often there is a moment when I just know I’m ready to start a piece. Because of that spontaneity I find myself working on several pieces at the same time which I do prefer. I think in some ways it links them through the process and creates both cohesion and a steady form of experimentation in my overall work. Other times I start a piece and then let it sit for a long time before I come back to it. I think that part become key too because seeing one’s work from the perspective of a stranger is truly ideal, so getting anywhere close to that is helpful.
How do you make time for your art?
I’m lucky enough to have had some flexibility in this past year so I have made a point about making time for my art. I have a studio at home so that makes things much easier but at the same time can be somewhat distracting as I also like to do other projects. Overall though its more that I enjoy it so much that when I’m not making art it become very obvious to me and I know I have to put other things aside to be in the studio.
Do you listen to any music while you work?
I am almost always listening to music when I work. I find myself listening to a variety of artists, although I have a select number of artists that I consistently go back to or albums that I will play on repeat for some time. But there really is something about listening to music and painting that goes together so well. Its what helps me get in to a state of mind and focus emotions that I can utilize in my creative process.
About the Artist
Born and raised in Southern California, Jon Bout moved to Humboldt County to study Art and Education at Humboldt State University. After receiving his BA in Studio Art and Art Education he has since worked in secondary education while further developing his art in his home studio in Eureka, CA. Working primarily in drawing and oil painting, his representative style exaggerates or alters film-like qualities, informed by the aged photographs he reinterprets. Bout plans to continue his academics with the prospects of integrating his passions for both art and education.