Saturday, 15 November 2014

Artist Of The Month - Grant Haffner

Art tastes vary from person to person, one admirers treasure may be another's trash, yet there are times when you stumble across work that appeals broadly to many. Somebody who has recently popped up on FMW's radar is Grant Haffner. Grant was born in Berkley, California in 1978 and now resides in Long Island NY. We were fortunate enough to catch up with him for this exclusive interview and feature him as this our Artist of The Month.

What inspires you to create the paintings you do and use the varied sometimes neon colours we see in your work?

Growing up and living in this beautiful area of country roads and water really inspires me. The light here is incredible. I wanted to capture that light and paint landscapes of the my town, but in a modern way. After years of working outdoors I noticed my favourite time of day was the drive home, and it dawned on me that this was my landscape; “the open road”. I love stripes and road trips so my basic idea was to deconstruct the road scene into all lines. The use of lines helped give the road scene motion and colour became a great tool to create depth within the scene. I also try to paint road scenes that seem iconic, ones that I feel people can recognise or relate too.

Your pieces intrigue us, the sense of motion and depth is astounding, was this something self taught or did you study?

I was always good at drawing growing up but chose to major in Horticulture when I first left for college. Unsatisfied I dropped out, entered the workforce and spent a few years day dreaming while busting my ass in the landscape industry. It was during those long working days that I realised what I really wanted to do. So I went back to art school, and completed the art program’s foundation year at SVA in NYC. That one year of art school gave me the confidence to pursue my art dream. I was lucky to have some incredible teachers, one in particular who basically told me to stop wasting time, drop-out and start making art. And that is basically what I did - I went home, got a job and started making art.

Have you ever decided to experiment in other areas such as portraiture? 

When I have the time I enjoy painting still life of flowers. I cannot draw human figures at all and my faces are plain awful. I just love painting landscapes.

We personally get a feeling of intense movement in your pieces and an overwhelming desire to know what's at the end of the road, Who do you think your art appeals to and what feelings do you think it elicits in others?

I want the viewer to feel like they are right there, experiencing the moment I captured while painting. I want them to feel like they are alone, speeding down the road, listening to the sounds of the landscape. Sometimes I want the viewer to pause and look up in the sky for a change or to appreciate how beautiful everything is around them. I like to think my art appeals to art lovers, landscape enthusiasts, people with wanderlust, or people nostalgic of the time they spent here.

How do you find the contemporary art scene in the US?

Honestly, I try not to pay attention to the art scene at all, mostly because I don’t want to be influenced by it. I don’t want to try to fit into it. At the end of the day I just want to make art that I enjoy looking at, that is meaningful to me and hopefully others too.

Do you feel social media helps or hinders you as an artist, we see you recently joined Instagram, what was the reasoning behind this? 

I have always been slow to jump into social media, but it is hard to ignore that this is where the art world is heading. My experience with Instagram has been amazing. I am blown away by how awesome the community is. Connecting with artists and art enthusiast in this way is totally inspirational. The art world is changing. Hopefully social media and things like Instagram will help break down the walls that surround these elite insider art clubs and level the playing field for new talent to get seen. The hardest part is always getting the gallery to show your work. Now people can see it regardless and that is radical.

Our favourite is definitely Night Time on Old Montauk Highway, it draws us inward towards the sea, the sky dark and foreboding. Do you have a particular favourite? 

The painting that I am working on at the time is always my favourite. I believe this is part of the relationship that develops between the Art and the Artist. This favouritism is probably what helps me see the painting through to the finish. I get so excited when I am working on a new piece, only to move on and lust after the next one. That being said, I do love the night scenes. Painting on a black panel really makes the colour pop in magical ways. I also really enjoy making the sunset scenes because it opens the sky up for playful abstraction and fluorescent colours.

What are your goals for the future?

Right now my main focus is to get comfortable painting on a larger scale. I have been painting on small wooden panels for years and really enjoyed the intimacy of it. Now I want to bring my lines and brush strokes to a much larger canvas while still maintaining my style. I also want to continue documenting my home town through painting as much as I can before over-development finally changes the landscape permanently. .

Finally do you have any plans to exhibit in Europe, London in particular?

Not in the immediate future but I sure would love too. Travelling and exhibiting would be a dream come true. I guess I kinda just want to make sure my art is good enough first.

We would like to thank Grant for taking his time to talk to us. If you wish to follow Grant on Tumblr go HERE, Facebook HERE and his Website HERE.

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