An interview with Nathan DeYoung
Seeking to better understand those around him, Nathan DeYoung offers an inquisitive exploration into the human condition. Using the intimate observations of others as a muse, he creates characters that allow him to fully analyze and interpret those to whom he is closest. By revealing and destroying his characters in frenzies of shape and color, he ventures to grasp, uncover, and expose the often hidden, with the hope that insight into others and their actions will enable a deeper understanding of himself. Nathan DeYoung currently works and studies in San Diego, California.
Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for “Windows & Mirrors” this September.
“Windows & Mirrors” is basically a visual interpretation of my journal entries, it’s a series of works based on my desire to understand those around me and my relationship not only to them but their actions as well. I’m ridiculously intrigued by my own thoughts when it comes to evaluating and analyzing the people I come in contact with. I want to know why I evaluate people and their actions so carefully, so with this body of work I’m exploring these various questions, assumptions, intentions etc. and how I relate with them.
What do you consider your biggest overall influence?
That’s difficult to narrow down. I’ll be general and say that life itself is my biggest influence.
Your works are accompanied by a poem you write to go with each work. What started this practice and do you have any plans to compile your writings at any point?
I began writing poems for the works two or three years ago, when I was going through some challenging times. I wanted to be able to do more than just visualize an idea, I wanted a way to say everything the painting itself couldn’t. The writing is actually one of my favorite parts of the whole process, and I could see myself down the line wanting to compile them all even if it’s just for myself.
Please explain your process a little bit and how long an average painting takes you. You seem to build and build via very thin layers that you are constantly being pushed along with the help of your trusty hair dryer.
I begin a painting first with a thumbnail sketch where I map out composition, concept, colors, size, etc. Once I’ve settled on an idea, I will prep the surface with many layers of thin “ground” washes. Once the ground wash is applied I’ll sketch the basic outlines of the portraits/animals etc. and begin applying very thin layers of paint. Once I have a basic layer of paint built up on the surface I begin washing and rebuilding the image over and over again with very thin layers of paint that I heat with a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. With a hair dryer in one hand and a brush in the other these stages can become very meditative and rhythmic, which really helps because this part of the process takes the longest. An average painting usually takes me anywhere from 100-200 hours to complete, for example “Act 1: A Thief, A Lesson” took 150 hours to complete from start to finish.
If you could sit and watch the creation of any work of art from throughout the ages, which work would that be and why?
Without a doubt it would be “A girl sleeps through a storm thinking about something else” by Ian Francis. I would love to watch his process come together, all the different mediums and textures and styles blend seamlessly together with incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail. HUGE inspiration.
Upcoming plans following your show with us this September?
Thankfully more shows with Thinkspace Gallery! I am going to be in various group shows and such this year and next, and in the near future I will have work in Aqua Art Miami during Art Basel this December with Thinkspace.
Check out the ‘back talk’ interview Nathan recently did with Juxtapoz here.
Check out a process feature we did with Nathan a bit back here.