Thinkspace is pleased to present Dustin Myers ‘The Misfit Menagerie’ showing in our Viewing Room. The exhibition brings together a collection of hyper-realistic miniature portraits created with oil paint on panels.
Dustin Myers was born and raised in Southern California and has been following his passion for painting for his entire life. He has been drawing and painting since he was a boy and spent a lot of time at his family’s auto body shop where he developed an appreciation for color and paint. Myers spends most of his time painting, and the rest of the time he enjoys teaching and cooking. His paintings blend his many interests which include mythology, philosophy, and religion.
In anticipation of ‘The Misfit Menagerie’ our interview with Dustin Myers he talks about the benefits of starting over, shares the stimulating combo that inspires creativity, and his favorite activity outside the studio.
Can you share a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently based?
I was born and raised in Southern California. I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I spent a lot of time as a child at my parents’ auto body shop, getting interested in painting and cars. I currently live and work in Santa Ana, CA.
What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
I really love unique, somewhat odd-looking people. I am also a teacher and see so many awkward moments in my students’ lives that help define who they are and how they develop. I wanted to create a series of misfits who were able to step out of the shadows and be in the spotlight. And I have always loved portraits of individuals holding things that represented who they were, and pets seemed like a perfect pair for this series.
What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?
The most challenging piece for me was Cigs and Sweaty Possums. This piece originally had a different type of possum painted out, but I really hated it and it wasn’t working well for me at all. So, halfway through the painting, I painted over it and started from scratch. It was a difficult decision with the fact that I only had a little over a week to finish the piece, but I am extremely happy that I made that decision. Now I feel it harmonizes a lot more with the rest of the elements in the painting.
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
I have a hard time painting when my studio is a mess, so I always feel the need to clean up everything before my mind is able to get into a creative groove. It’s annoying at times, but when there is a mess, I always get preoccupied thinking about it. I also really like soft ambient music paired with lavender incense and caffeine.
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?
I’m a full-time teacher, so a lot of the time I try to paint right when I get home from work and will paint until I go to sleep. I meal prep to be able to quickly eat healthy dinners without spending the time to have to make things. There will be some mornings that I wake up early to paint before I go to work, but most of my best painting comes late at night. When I have a series to work on, I will structure the day by making sure I hit a small pass on each painting throughout the day. When working with oil paints, I am at the mercy of the drying time, so I need to utilize my time as wisely as possible and do a small amount on each piece and then put it away to dry until the next day.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
My favorite part of the creative process is the initial phase of fleshing out my drawing into a painting. I will start out with a rough idea for a drawing and re-work it a few times to refine it before I feel comfortable to start fleshing it out. When I start to really think about lighting and shadows and how the form works, it starts to become alive in front of me. This is a great experience each time it happens and always feels brand new. I love so many other parts of the creative process, but this by far is the fuel that gets me excited to want to put a ton of time into the piece to see it reach its potential.
Who are artists or other creatives (i.e., musicians, filmmakers, etc) that you admire? What about their work inspires you?
I really love the work of Robert Williams and Mark Ryden. They have always been huge inspirations for me and give me something to chase after with how far they have taken painting. I also really love reading. One of my favorite authors is Haruki Murakami. He creates these stories that are realistic but right on the verge of fantasy. Almost like what fantasy would be like if it were real life. And he has so many protagonists that I have been able to relate to. Just people finding themselves in this odd fantastic world, trying to make sense of what’s going on.
If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?
I love to cook. I think I am an okay cook, but if I could be an expert at that, I would love it. Cooking is very therapeutic for me, and I feel I can get in a similar creative headspace as I do when I paint. But the benefit of cooking is that I can eat what I make at the end.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 or 2021 for you?
The biggest challenge of 2020 for me was staying physically active. I am very much a homebody, and loved the idea of being able to stay home and focus on painting. But it was very difficult that gyms were closed, and I found myself just sitting around when I would have otherwise been active either outside or at the gym. But I ended up riding my bike a lot more and going for walks around town every day.
What big projects do you have coming up that you’d like to share more about?
I have a few group shows coming up at BeinArt and Copro Gallery in the next few months, and also I have been given an opportunity to display artwork at the LA Art Show at the beginning of next year.
May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022
DUSTIN MYERS – The Misfit Menagerie (Viewing Room)
Opening Reception with the Artist(s): Saturday, May 7, 2022 6:00 – 10:00 pm