30 May 2012

Following the Way: Brandon Roth

Anger & Fear
(Acrylic on Canvas, 2011)
   Up to this point we've only focused on our favorite artists, artists who have created some mind-blowingly good work on which it seems impossible to put a price-tag because of how incomparably fulfilling it is. The artist we are honored to focus on today is no different in that regard. What sets Brandon Roth apart is his wide range of subjects and his devotion to depicting those subjects with a life all their own. Roth didn't start with a unique style and then set out to showcase that style with subjects that would complement it, rather he starts with the desire to paint, and then looks for the subject with which he finds an inspiring connection. At that point, he pulls out all the stops, reaches for any tool in his arsenal that he thinks may be useful, and when it's all over, he has conjured up the spirit of each subject in a way that is remarkably vibrant and direct for the the viewer.  

Born Bad (Mixed Media on Brown Paper, 2011)

Long Distance Relationship
(Mixed Media on Panel, 2011)
Obsolete Technology
(Mixed Media on Plywood, 2011)

   Roth is quickly amassing a wide-ranging body of work. The majority of his recent work is little portraits, often 12'' by 12'' and sometimes smaller, of a single subject. They could be acrylics, oils, wood stain, spray can, or pencil. The grounds could be canvas, linen, wood, assembled panels, or record covers. The backgrounds could be a green landscape, a street scene, a body of water, abstract patterns, straight black, or straight white. 
   This unpredictability of layout gives us a sense that Roth is still testing his powers and determining his strengths, that he is still multiplying and refining his methods of communicating visually. The fact that he only began painting three years ago supports this sense. But Roth has always been of a visual inclination. He got his college degree in industrial design, worked successfully in graphic design for years, and currently pays most of the bills with his sculptures. Despite the joy he gets from building, whether it's his in-studio pad, complete with a DJ room, or whether its his built canvases and panels, Roth has been making the transition to fine art painting.

   "If I could do nothing else but paint, I would," Roth says. "And that's because of how much expression is possible."
   Roth is conscious of how his pencil sketches tend to come out with a touch of the comic or cartoon look, and how, in 2009, his brushwork began developing into a more sober realism, as we see in Portrait Study (2012). But he is also determined not to abandon his sense of humor, as we see in pieces like Giving the Bird (2012). This intersection of styles is partly what is so exciting about his work, the feeling that a new middle route is being forged before our eyes.
   As for subject matter, Roth has plans to expand into broader scenes and bigger canvases. 
   "I don't stick to just one subject because I'd like to paint the whole world, all of life. And right now, I'm doing that according to my ability."

Ivy League
(Acrylic on record cover, 2012)
   He certainly has the perseverance to reach his goals. Earlier this month, Roth developed a project for himself in which he set out to create a new painting every day for 30 days. Today marks the 23rd day.

   "I wanted to challenge myself," Roth says. "In fact, every project I undertake is a challenge for me.  It's important to try something new every day, and what better way than a project such as this.  I'm getting myself a cheap and quick education over the next 30 days."

The Lowest Animal (Spray Paint and Acrylic, 2012)

   About his canvas above, Roth says: "I've never painted fire before. The title comes from a Mark Twain quote: Man is the only religious animal. In the holy task of smoothing his brother's path to the happiness of heaven, he has turned the globe into a graveyard."

Giving the Bird
(Oil on record sleeve, 2012)

sketch (2012)

   "I just really enjoy painting old people right now," says Roth. "So much color and texture in their faces. My friend Abraham saw it and said it looks like he's giving the Bird...perfect."

Big Crybaby
(Acrylic and graphite on panel, 2012)
Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes
(Wood Stain on Record Cover, 2012)

   "I like painting animals, sometimes I feel like it comes more natural to me than painting anything else. They will always be one of my go-to subjects." 
   About the surreal Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes, Roth says: "I was experimenting with wood stain. Single color on a record cover again.  The reason I've been using a lot of record covers lately is because I have a record collection and sometimes when I buy records in bulk some of the records are missing. This was the case with this one. Old CCR record. The light from the photo was coming from the top right, and worked just perfect with the void style painting I did."

Happy Endings (spray paint and acrylic, 2012)

(oil & wood stain, 2012)
Portrait Study
(Oil on Linen, 2012)

   "The windows into the soul, eyes, are so hard to represent properly and the last thing I want to do is misrepresent what I consider the most important part of any human," says Roth. "As I started to grow as an artist, I realized not only could I paint the eyes, I could add more life to them, than you might see in a photograph."

Foggy Landscape (mixed media, 2012)
The Wrecking Ball
(oil & acrylic, 2012)

   Roth's many interests and strong passions inform his work. He seems to see the potential for a beautiful painting almost everywhere he looks, and that exuberance is contagious. It is obvious that this is not a closed story, and that every day presents the challenge to Roth of finding himself through his subject, but the cyclical journey was just too delicious and too fundamental to painting for us to wait any longer, and so we shout it out now.
   "If you would have showed me my artwork three years ago when I got started, I might not have even liked what I'm doing now," says Roth. "The truth is I'm trying to make the awkward struggle of becoming a fine artist. I don't know where I'm heading with my work, I just know I'm heading there, wherever there may be."

[For more information on Brandon Roth, check out his website at: 
brandonroth.com. And to follow Roth's 30 paintings in 30 days project, 

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