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About Varied / Professional Member Mitchell Van DuzerMale/United States Group :iconabscondiverse: Abscondiverse
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Sarafina Herself by iancjw
by iancjw

I disagree with Promethicon and Elder-Sun about the face. I think the ambiguity lends an atmosphere of mystique to the painting which i...



Shrike Rust by CheVD
Shrike Rust
Shrike Rust (Study in Entropic Mimesis) (2014)
acrylic on wood panel, 14" x 14"

This was an interesting painting to produce. I can't recall the last time the process for one of my artworks involved as much destruction as creation. This one certainly did-- deliberately putting pockmarks in the surface with a wrench and a hammer, sanding off the paint in between layering it on. I'm not sure if the photograph really does it justice, because those scars and abrasions are just as important as the colors themselves.

Ever since the days of Marcel Duchamp's Readymades, I think artists have had a unique fascination with the notion that there's some delineation between "art" and "not art". My understanding thus far was always that art is informed by intent-- the product of a willful intellect. As a self-interested artist, my philosophy has been that, regardless of the viewer's perspective, something is "art" when it demonstrates the presence of conscious effort on the part of an artist: a sunset isn't art, but a photograph or painting of one is; a snow shovel or unintelligible splatters of paint on a canvas or erotic photography can be art, if an artist makes the conscious effort to contextualize it as such. But in the process of creating this piece, I realized there's a blind spot in that philosophy, because on some level, it means that art inherently implies artifice. The simulacra hanging in the gallery is art, but the real thing in the real world is not. And that means that there are some things which artists can inherently never realize.

Take decay, for example. Decay is a real governing principle of natural life-- one which, I'll admit, sort of scares me because my artwork and I are just as subject to it as everyone and everything else. Entropy rots the organic and grinds down the inorganic. An artist like Robert Smithson can understand entropy, and build it into his practice, and take credit for it-- but its mechanics are ultimately not within our limited realm of control. Other factors are involved-- time, gravity, pressure, temperature, the elements, the intervention of other living beings, human or not, for which "aesthetic impact" may not be a consideration. There is a fundamental difference between an item that has been damaged through natural wear or neglect, and an item that has been damaged because some self-important idiot deliberately took a wrench and sandpaper to it in the name of "art"-- the former is real, and the latter is an illusion.

So I'm an illusionist. And confronted with the revelation that what I do is tantamount to magic tricks involving static two-dimensional surfaces instead of playing cards and impossible escapes-- the only reaction that makes logical sense to me as someone interested in art as a vehicle of personal growth is to be less concerned about how "real" the tricks seem to the audience, and more interested in how close to real they actually are. I understand that's a pretty subtle distinction, but take it from me-- the subject of entropy haunts a really dark corner of my psyche. It's pretty sobering to be saddled with a memento mori that won't go away-- not just for my mind and body and soul, but for my entire life's impact. None of it can possibly last forever. If I'm supposed to be some sort of intellectual magician, then this is me performing a trick in actual defiance of death.
altar by CheVD
Second new painting in the span of a few weeks, which (considering the lengthy drought of work before I moved) is very encouraging. I think it really helps that I finally have dedicated studio space now. And I think the long hiatus from painting has allowed me to reconsider my perspective on how I approach work. I decided I wanted to experiment with creating something that was much more than it appeared on the surface. I'm a big fan of puzzles, and always have been since I was a kid. I've hidden subtle things in paintings before, but I don't think that has ever been as central to the concept of any of my fine art as it was to this one.

I'm still working with technology as subject matter, because I still believe it's one of the most central themes to Western life in the 21st Century. As far as the neon aesthetic-- well, I have to admit, that was most consciously influenced by having bought a copy of Shadow the Hedgehog recently. XD Particularly from playing the cyberspace levels, the ones which were themselves pretty much jacked from Tron. I envisioned the canvas as partitioned into different colored sections of light circuits-- red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, and white. I like the fluorescent circuit effect-- I think I might dabble a bit more with it some time.
Hey everybody! Today, I'm sorta doing the signal-boosting thing. My friend Genisay is in a bit of a bind at the moment-- some financial troubles. She's not even sure she'll be able to afford groceries this week.

I know a lot of you guys are in a similar position, not having a whole lot of money-- but please, if you can spare it, check out her page here and consider requesting a commission from her. She does really fantastic work, as you can see from the commissions I've received from her.

Steel Beneath Pine by Genisay       Vina Levitate by Genisay

Granted, both of these were more complex than the commissions she can afford to produce right now... but it's still definitely worth it, if you've got a couple of dollars to spare. And if you can't contribute any money, please at least consider signal-boosting her on your journal as well. ^_^;;

Thanks, everyone!
I/O by CheVD
I/O (2014)
acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11"

At this point in my artistic practice, I'm quite fed up with pretentious, overly convoluted conceptual postmodernist bullshit-- the contrived stuff that references Baudrillard and Deleuze, and rationalizes the application of pigment to stretched canvas in exaggeratedly pedantic terms. I'm not exactly sure what has triggered this antagonism-- maybe it has something to do with moving back to small-town USA after six years in the heart of Vancouver. Bellingham seems so much more earnest and down-to-earth, and less concerned with appearances. Reading through a lot of the literature I picked up from visiting Vancouver's galleries over the years, I see the pretense everywhere. Maybe this is one reason artists tend to have a rough time in an economy like this, and why our consumer base is generally comprised of the rich. There's a distinct snobbishness and ego to what we do which disconnects us from everyone else. No gallery presents the public with unjustified artwork-- it's bad for business. They think (perhaps rightly) that it's impossible to sell art if they tell prospective customers that the artist honestly had no idea what the hell they were doing. So they frame the work in impenetrable prosaic nonsense, and so many of us artists, we go along with it because we like to come off as intellectuals too. I'm as guilty of it as any of my colleagues.

Claiming there was any other motivation behind this painting aside from wanting to paint, and wanting to break in my new personal studio, though, would be intellectually dishonest. I had no lofty concepts, no planning, no forethought whatsoever. It's just off-the-cuff painting, damn it. And it exists now. Always having to defend or justify why it exists is stupid, and it shouldn't be a requisite for having an intellect or an innate drive to create.

And the title? I suspect I came up with that the way a lot of other rationalization is developed-- after the fact, completely detached from the process, made up on the spot like an afterthought or a lie-- the difference being, most of the time, the artist is supposed to stick to the lie and not admit it's a lie, at least until it becomes the truth. I needed a title, and I/O just seemed to fit. I mean, looking at what I'd just done, there seemed like there was a duality to it, and I've been doing technology-themed work for a long time now. I sat down at my computer to think about the title, and I noticed I'd subconsciously borrowed the pink and mint green from the microphone and speaker jacks. Input/output. I take in the world around me, and it comes out something like this. 
Wow, dA's been around for 14 years, eh? I haven't been around here for all of that... but I have been here a pretty long time myself-- just about 10 years now-- so I guess now's as good a time as any for some introspection on my development as an artist through dA.

Admittedly, over the past decade, I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with deviantArt-- in the realm of theory, I think the concept of bringing together a community of budding artists from all over the world and allowing them to interact and display their work is a truly brilliant and revolutionary one. Art has an immense power, to alter the way we see the world; giving everyone access to that power seems like a real game-changer. The idea of dA is undeniably awesome. In real-world practice, though... I haven't always like the way it has played out. But I guess that's true of a lot of things, particularly where the Internet is concerned. Sometimes it has been dA's administration with which I have found fault, and sometimes it has been the users-- but in the end, I still recognize dA for the positive effect it has had on my life.

Back in 2004, when I first came here, I was a teenager, just finishing up high school in a small town in northern Georgia. Like other teens, I was angsty, and my visual art and writing certainly reflected it:
Inevitability by CheVD Who I Am
I am a ghost, a shell, a hollow figure in black, made of steel
Inside there is no soul, no emotions, nothing
Nothing but an endless bottomless abyss
A black hole into which all my inner light has been sucked
Leaving me numb and colorless
I am a dark spectre, only an illusion of flesh and blood
Evanescing like a nighttime fog
Or the creeping God-sent toxin of the tenth plague
Bringing misery to all and killing all happiness in my wake
Putting into painful sleep the world around me
Down the hall
You will feel my presence as I hover past
You will feel the air grow colder
Feel the absolute lack of feelings
Feel me, devoid of life
Feel the disappearance of comfort and security
And then you will see me
More a vacuum than a person
A phantom, a great dark hole, comprised of nothingness
I am the icy malignant king of automatons
The frowning misanthrope
The poisonous vapors of disillusionment and fear
The strangling weed of hatred
I am everything negative
I am oblivion
I am the end

Yeah, kinda cringe-worthy, in retrospect. XP It isn't that I didn't take my art seriously; on the contrary, it was very serious for me. I recognized early on that art was my jam-- art afforded me a whole other language, a whole other way of interfacing with the world, something that was so very hard for me at a young age. I felt that art could even provide some sort of therapeutic influence on my life. At that point, I was in a very rough place, emotionally-- isolated, angry, lonely for other like minds, still traumatized from an entire childhood of being constantly bullied and ostracized. Art gave me the voice I needed. So my senior year, I was the guy who sat in the back of the art class, in the AP section, listening to Metallica and Korn and Tool with my portable CD player and pretty much left to my own devices.

Then two things happened, right at around the same time: I graduated high school with an acceptance letter to Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and I found dA.

At the time, I had also been recently introduced to the Happy Tree Friends forum. A lot of my buddies from that place kept pushing me toward this thing called "deviantArt". At the time I was a little hesitant to open myself up to new places and people, but they kept putting pressure on me and saying I'd enjoy it, so I finally caved. I didn't really want to post very much of my HTF art, though-- I figured I was already posting that on the HTF forum itself, so dA could afford me an opportunity to show off more of my other material, and maybe even prove that my other work was just as good or better. Occasionally, though, as popular as she was, my HTF fan character Shelly the armadillo inevitably did make some appearances here:
The World Shall Be Mine by CheVD Shelly's Birthday, Part I by CheVD Armadillo Kisses by CheVD

My dA gallery really began to develop, though, when I moved to Florida and started at Ringling. Suddenly having all sorts of classes where I was producing charcoal figure studies, still life paintings, graphic design projects, and 3D models and concept development material for my computer animation major really added some sense of growth.
Male Study 2, in Charcoal by CheVD Sileovita Cerulean by CheVD Mitchell Character Model by CheVD

I got into Ringling hoping to become a computer animator. Ironically, Ringling made me realize I enjoyed painting so much more. The computer animation curriculum was just... not for me. My animations were always seen as sub-par, no matter how hard I worked on them, and my schedule was SO dominated by work that I wasn't eating or sleeping enough, and my social needs weren't being met. It was just a soul-crushingly busy life, and I realized it was an industry where I'd never be happy. Those days were rough for me; I was extremely depressed, and there wasn't a lot that actually did make me happy. There was one thing, though:
Lauren by CheVD Dryad Song by CheVD
A group of friends who lived in Canada, near Vancouver. They were the only people in my life who truly seemed to understand what I needed at that point. While my colleagues at Ringling pretty much ignored me, they were the ones who cared about me. So in 2007, I ended my time in Ringling, I moved to British Columbia to be closer to them, and I enrolled at Emily Carr University of Art and Design as a fine art major. One of the best decisions I ever made.

Again, my dA gallery experienced a surge of new work, as my studies and my new nurturing environment in Canada resulted in an explosion of creative productivity:
Kitsilano Sunset by CheVD Interpretation of Signals... by CheVD The Lowest Level by CheVD Vijnana by CheVD The Naieh by CheVD

Over the course of the six years I spent in Vancouver, I finally obtained my Bachelors in Fine Art, and I developed into a much more mature artist. dA has been witness to all of it. dA has been an almost perfect format for me to exhibit my work, because of the manner in which it allows artists to add in-depth descriptions. A large portion of my professional self-directed practice has been based on heavily concept driven artwork:
We Move As One by CheVD Life After Deletion by CheVD Artifacts: Haida Totem Pole by CheVD Blank Planet by CheVD 
So far, dA is the only exhibition format I've found that gives artists the ability to easily post work, to add commentary to each individual work, and access to a large number of viewers. For that reason, dA has become a stable of my daily internet activity. The one thing about dA that continues to work counter to my own development as an artist is that its chief demographic, in general, tends to be much more interested in fan art and pornography than serious fine art. There are exceptions, but they obviously aren't the majority. I suppose my own personal feeling is that art ought to be more of a meritocracy, where recognition is based more on conceptual soundness and effort than on whether the content of the work satisfies someone's lust. But I know that's not how the world (or dA) works.

I have made a few ill-advised attempts at consolidating my popularity on dA. I could see that anime characters and chibis were well-received, so I devised my US gijinkas:
U.S. Gijinka Map by CheVD
I've occasionally participated in perpetuating some memes:
Influence Meme by CheVD
And I've dabbled in shameless self-promotion. It didn't matter. Nothing I ever did-- not bringing my intellectual and artistic A-game, not pandering, not selling out-- nothing ever got me noticed to the extent I wanted. Even my most popular deviation, which isn't even based on something original of mine (which drives me freaking nuts), hasn't pulled in the numbers of viewers and comments I can only wish I had:
Evangelion Goes to DeviantArt by CheVD

These days, I'm not showing much fine art on dA. Part of that is that I've had other issues in my life-- chief among them financial issues, and legal issues concerning my status in Canada-- and I haven't really been creating fine art to the extent that I once did. Maybe, out of cynicism, I've stopped expecting dA to provide me with the respect I desire as a fine artist. It's been a hard lesson to learn-- you can say what you're going to say, but you can't force other people to listen if they don't want to. But it's not all bad. Over the course of my time at dA, I've been learning to let go of the idea that popularity = artistic respect. There's been some consolation in the past several months, as I've been slowly brought into the Sonic fandom by my friends, the Absconders, that I can still satisfy my need to create and make others happy with my work by posting fan art:
Bros by CheVD Sylvia the Cockatoo - Lineart and Colors by CheVD Beachside Dinner by CheVD
I don't get to take myself quite as seriously as an artist as I wish I could, but at least I'm making people smile. The important thing is that my friends and I are happy with what I create, not how many other people see it.

So I guess, in ten years of being on dA, I've sort of come full circle, swapping out one animated anthropomorphic animal fandom for another. XP I still sort of hope I can someday be the kind of serious artist I always looked up to when I was just starting out, but for now, I guess I'm pretty satisfied with how far I've come in ten years-- and I've got to admit, dA played a big role in that.
Hey everybody! Today, I'm sorta doing the signal-boosting thing. My friend Genisay is in a bit of a bind at the moment-- some financial troubles. She's not even sure she'll be able to afford groceries this week.

I know a lot of you guys are in a similar position, not having a whole lot of money-- but please, if you can spare it, check out her page here and consider requesting a commission from her. She does really fantastic work, as you can see from the commissions I've received from her.

Steel Beneath Pine by Genisay       Vina Levitate by Genisay

Granted, both of these were more complex than the commissions she can afford to produce right now... but it's still definitely worth it, if you've got a couple of dollars to spare. And if you can't contribute any money, please at least consider signal-boosting her on your journal as well. ^_^;;

Thanks, everyone!


Mitchell Van Duzer
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
AKA: Che
Current Residence: Bellingham, Washington / Bradenton, Florida
Graduate, Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2010)

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toranekohybrid Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014
Happy V day peeples by toranekohybrid
DettyTheCat Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013
Look [link]
litfuse55 Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That you are an HTF fan...and then your get a watch...
E-47 Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
you should ask for one of these cakes in your next birthday ;P
E-47 Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
heres a gift my friend [link]
JakidoTheFox Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013
Can you watch me?
Marnodor Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh man you're alive after all D:
Viscious-Speed Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for the faves!
RHODOL1TE Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Student General Artist
SanyaWaffles Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
*Plays happy birthday on a tuba*
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