Welcome to my newest blog feature! Over the next few months I will be showcasing an artist who makes me sit up straight and blink a few times. Someone who inspires me to run, not walk, to my work table. Dolan Geiman is such an artist. His honest answers were so much more than I expected, and made me feel like I was looking over his shoulder while he worked. He couldn't have been more gracious. My favorite part of the whole interview is in the final paragraph, where he talks about working with his wife and business partner Ali Walsh - that's the kind of collaboration we all hope for.
I hope you will check out more of his art at: http://dolangeiman.com and dolangeiman.etsy.com
January Featured Artist - Dolan Geiman
aa: I see something new every time I look at your work. One piece in particular, the rescued work construction "Red Valentine" in the 'Lovebird Series', it has a wooden spoon in it. Such a great use of reclaimed materials. How do you decide, or know, when a piece is complete?
DG: That is a great question. Well, usually I will work on about 5 or 6 pieces, or more, at a time. This keeps me from getting antsy, and it gives me more time to look at my work in progress. Usually, when I get tired of working on something, I shut it down! I don't really have a set time frame for working on each piece, but I can usually stand back from the piece and notice if it feels balanced or not, or if it needs one more little splash of paint, or another screw. I guess it's kind of like cooking. If you make pies all the time, you figure out how much butter is enough, and how much sugar you need to add to get the right taste.
aa: Do you sketch out your ideas or do you just dig right in with your materials and see where they take you?
DG: Well, it depends on the piece. I usually dive right in and just start working on something. Some larger pieces require more thought, so I like to have a little bit of a plan, but it's a real balance. I don't like to plan too much with the actual piece. My planning exists more in the tools, like making sure to have proper brushes and paint...so I can create the proper vehicle for creativity. Art shouldn't be like science and math. You shouldn't have too many formulas if you want to really tap into the raw aspect of creating.
aa: I noticed your use of leather and twine. Do you ever work with fabric?
DG: Sometimes. It just depends on what I want to create. I used to make clothing, and that led to some interesting sculptures. I even made some cool flags at one point, which I gave out to people on the street.
aa: Do you prefer working on a large scale or a smaller format, or both equally?
DG: I love working larger in the spring and summer, because everything is busting out and growing and birds are chirping and flowers are mating and all this weird stuff is going on, and everyone is excited because we survived the winter. I feel like the appropriate scale for those emotions is REALLY BIG. I started working small, and always love the intimacy of a small scale collage or drawing too. Now that I have a larger studio, I'm lucky to be able to work on large scale pieces as well as the small stuff.
aa: When did you realize you could do this exclusively, or did you just know there was no other option than to create full-time?
DG: I think I've always just been stubborn and had the idea that I could be full time. I mean, I never had a choice about it really. I can't go anywhere without thinking about making art. I can't really do anything else. Not because I'm not skilled at other things, but because my mind is full of ideas that make me restless. I knew that if I had to do something else I would go nuts. Life is always too much for the creative mind. We have to know more, explore everything, translate all things into paint or pen. There is no rest for the creative mind, right? When I met Ali and she said she'd help me, it was like making a deal with the art gods. They gave me a partner, and I agreed to make art til I die. Pretty simple.
All featured works are property of Dolan Geiman
Lovebird Red Valentine Fifth Year Anniversary
Rescued Wood Construction - Lovebird Collection (2009)
Mixed media assemblage with salvaged wood and found materials
Musician Country Fair
Country Fair Box Print
Archival reproduction on wood; limited addition
Folk Guitar II (New Orleans Queen)
New Orleans Queen - Made in the Shade Collection (2008)
Recycled paint with salvaged wood and metal