Black Cat: Hi Dorian, Can you tell me something about your background and the influences that have generated the artist that you actually are?
Dorian Cleavenger: Some of my influences come from a strong interest in historical artifacts as well as contemporary ones. I have always been known as the “why” kid and my curiosity has been and is still insatiable. This interest in the sciences, biology, physics and just about everything visually tangible, has been my database of reference that I use to built scenarios and imagery from. I find the human animal the most curious one, it defies the template of nature but yet it exists… why?
B.C.: What medium of art do you use most often for your creations? Do you have a "typical" or preferred way of approaching a painting?
D.C.: I have experimented with almost every medium and have concluded that acrylic paints are my preferred medium. The most outstanding characteristic of acrylic is its fast drying time, which is detrimental to most people but an asset to me. I have a short attention span but I also like the realism that oil paints can achieve with its blending capabilities. I have developed techniques using acrylics that can incorporate the best of both worlds.
B.C.: Do you always plan your compositions before starting to paint, or are there instances when you let the paint suggest some of the content?
D.C.: When I am doing a commissioned piece for a client much discussion and preplanning is necessary to bring the project
to a satisfactory conclusion; but if I am doing a fine art piece for myself then the project template is much different. I have only myself to satisfy as well as the general public. Generally the painting will take on a life of it’s own and it tells me what should be done as it progresses. You have to believe the world you are creating is real if you want others to believe it.
B.C.: What are the pluses and minuses of working with three-dimensional models versus using static visual references or painting straight from the mind?
D.C.: The major change from using live models to static ones was the invention of photography. The old masters had no choice and this limited their abilities. For instance they could only do people at repose and not action and animals and children were a nightmare for them… unless they were dead. I use models and photograph them but I also work from my head. In fantasy art if you can photograph it, it’s not really fantasy.
B.C.:Surely your primary subject is the female figure… but sometimes the women are represented as hybrids. What’s the meaning of this choice?
D.C.: I have a very strong interest in the bizarre but I also love the human form, especially the female form. There is something about it that says much more than what the eye sees, I believe it is true beauty. I also love animals, when you combine the two you can create magic, it’s called mythology and it’s been around for ages. When I create a creature it’s like writing a song, why do you play certain notes and not others… it just feels right.
B.C.: The women in your paintings are always very beautiful and sensual and often you show them having sex with aliens, monsters or strange creatures. Someone could describe these pictures as “disturbing and too dark”. Is this really what you do want to convey with these images?
D.C.: Art can be defined as an opinion, if two people are looking at the same painting and one likes it but the other doesn’t, who is right? They are both right. My art is not for everybody but I believe it is for somebody. The real reason I do it is for me, it takes me to a place I have to be and when a painting is finished I don’t really think about it, I just start another one. It is truly the journey and not the destination that I enjoy. As far as what people see in my artwork, good or bad… they are right.
B.C.: Does the pain, blood, anger in your paintings come from personal experience? Does painting act as a cathartic experience for you?
D.C.: Painting is definitely cathartic, as far as why I paint what I do, it must come from who I am and that must come from whom I’ve been. Nothing really bad has happened to me, I think I’m pretty normal and knowing that fantasy art is the biggest selling thing in the industry, i.e. movies, video games, comic books, etc., I think I am in good company. I think many people, like me, just don’t really like the real world very much and need a place to escape. I don’t really see “pain, blood and anger” in my paintings… I see that on the news.
B.C.: I have noticed also that the female figure are often represented next to wild animals, as wolves and big cats in an atmosphere of intimacy. Which is the meaning of this strong relationship between the women, natural elements and animals?
D.C.: Whatever the physical subject is in my artwork it should be trumped by what I want to convey to the viewer, and that is emotion. The subjects of the painting are just the vessels for that emotional content. In songs the lyrics are secondary to the music, the music is what projects the emotion and the words make it relative. The people that understand my artwork hear the music and write their own words to it. This should make it personal to them and they become a part of the painting. The painting is about them… not me. To me this is when a piece of art is successful.
B.C.: What is your personal favorite creation? Why?
D.C.: My paintings are like my children, I can’t really pick a favorite, they all have different characteristics that I like and dislike about them. The only difference is that I sell my children. My favorite painting is always the one I’m currently working on. In my mind it will be the best one ever… it doesn’t always work out that way though…
B.C.: You have been defined as a “fantasy/sci-fi artist”. Are completely satisfied about this?
D.C.: I would like to be known as just an artist. When someone tries to put me into a category I want to get out of it, I want to do as much different art as possible in my lifetime. I have much respect for Leonardo Da Vinci in that capacity, I believe he was the same way, to find his limitations, challenge them and beat them.
B.C.: Can you tell us about the Dorian’s Fantasy Art Program approved by the Douglas Education Center?
D.C.: I developed an art program that is more like a workshop. I let the students tell me what type of artist they want to be and I try to accommodate them. Everything I’ve learned as a freelance artist is available to them from techniques to taxes. It is a four month/ five days a week program so time is crucial and I’ve had a pattern of amazing results in this crash course. They have gone farther in four months than they would have in four years or even a lifetime, some would have even given up or never pursued it. Art has made me feel special and if they have found something special in themselves then that is my true reward.
B.C.: Where will we see your art in the future?
D.C.: I, as an artist, must always feel challenged. If I’m not challenged I won’t want to do it, it becomes “work” to me. I only want to do something if I don’t really know if I can do it. Painting is not really challenging to me like it used to be, I want more from it. I want movement, I want sound, I want to tell a story. A painting is like one frame of a movie, a moment in time, it gives you some but not all information. I have been working on movies lately, writing, directing, composing, special visual effects and production design. It is new to me and difficult, that’s why I love doing it… it is challenging. Maybe… just maybe, you will see my artwork in the theaters.
B.C.: Thanks Dorian for your time and your attention, I can’t wait to see your new works!
( 1 Vote )
Category: Interviews 2012