Artist Denis Gaston creates mixed media abstract figurative paintings inspired by indigenous cultures around the world. Visit his website to discover more of his art.
Around the age of ten I announced to my amused father, “I am going to be an artist when I grow up.” Dad, an artist himself, neither agreed or disagreed with my determined decision. He only advised to please, please, take some business courses saying, “Artists are lousy business people.”
Remembering his wise words, I did the next best thing and majored in commercial art at the University of Florida. I also made a point of taking many fine art studio courses, a decision that would serve me well in the future.
After twenty years in graphic design, I took a leap into fine art painting and drawing. I have maintained a studio on Florida’s west coast since 1985.
My inspiration comes from indigenous cultures around the world and from other artists who have also been drawn to so-called “primitive” art.
Masks especially fascinate me for their ability to hide one’s appearance and personality, while at the same time projecting something completely different.
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My method of working would have to be labeled intuitive. I do not, for the most part, have any idea or image fixed in my mind. This “not knowing” allows for a lot of freedom of exploration, but can also produce hours of staring at blank canvases.
Those curious explorations have allowed me to paint on many different surfaces. At one time or another, I’ve created art on paper and canvas, of course, but also tar paper, sandpaper, papier mache, plastic, glass, screen, wood, stainless steel and cork.
Some of the resulting artworks were flops, but many turned out quite good. And the best of those now reside in private and public art collections.
In 1989, I was honored with an Individual Artist Fellowship from the state of Florida. I’ve also had eighteen one person exhibitions and been included in dozens of group shows in galleries and art museums, including Tampa Museum of Art, Orlando Museum of Art, Polk Museum of Art, Boca Museum of Art, Leepa/Rattner Museum of Art, Florida Gulf Coast Museum of Art and Huntsville Museum of Art.
Whenever I find myself somewhere where I don’t want to be—stuck in traffic or in a boring lecture or doing all the tedious things that society demands—I have one overriding thought. “Soon I will be in my art studio, and then everything will be alright.”
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