John Dalton - gently does it .... podcast
Ep 168 - Hollis Dunlap Uncut

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Another Uncut Podcast. In this episode, I am chatting with artist, Hollis Dunlap in Connecticut. Hollis answers your questions on a variety of subjects.

A big thank you to Artist Romas Tauras who created this time index of my conversation with Nicolás.

  • Prelude – Life in Connecticut vs Ireland under lockdown, etc
  • 12:28 – How would you describe your paintings?
  • 14:30 – Biggest influence in and outside of painting? Tell us which artists you love and why?
  • 26:28 – How does the idea for a painting start for you? Do you make sketches? Voice memos? Write them down?
  • 27:52 – Dean Keller, his attitude to drawing and how he influenced you?
  • 32:30 – Drawing is so free, energetic, and unique, what is your focus when you draw?
  • 35:20 – The virtues of drawing bones. Visual rhythms. Michelangelo and his turning of heads and forms.
  • 37:05 – Do you make sketches in values or in colors for big paintings or do you directly to the definitive support with paint, or both? Do you feel like in making sketches that some of that initial energy is lost in moving onto the final work?
  • 40:48 – Are your models mainly people you know? How do you find your subjects?
  • 43:12 – Your idiosyncratic visual language looks as though it’s based in observation, but then altered with formal choices that elevate the work. Given the observed nature of your painting, do you tend to find models to express an existing idea, or find ideas in the process of observing a model?
  • 48:50 – Do you use Photoshop? Photos vs Life.
  • 53:30 – Your favourite substrate/ support?
  • 59:09 – How do you choose your palette? Intuitive or color method?
    ‘Every single brush mark is a specific color, shape, value, size, and paint thickness. Every single one.’
  • 1:04:45 – Hollis’ palette. Ultramarine Blue, Alizarine Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Cad Yellow and White as base colors, and Pthalo Blue if he wants to get a little bit crazy…
  • 1:05:00 – So you make your own black?
  • 1:06:08 – Advantages and disadvantages to the limited palette you’ve used? Important to limit the range of colors for overall harmony.
  • 1:09:45 – From 4 to 5 colors on your palette, not limited in your thinking about what you could mix. ‘Learning to use milder colors teaches you how to paint better because it forces you to paint with cleaner colors.’
    ‘Generally, I find people are not careful enough with their color.’
  • 1:13:02 – Do you like a particular medium? A favorite brush or palette knife?
  • 1:22:17 – Bravo for making small studies available for purchase. The vagaries of selling art. How do you select shapes of color to make form? Are the brush strokes knitted together like jigsaw pieces or more layered?
  • 1:45:40 – So more like Lego than Jigsaw? Something that comes into focus. Aiming for a target with a quiver of arrows.
  • 1:27:40 – How do you check your progress? Mirrors? Photos? Standing back?
  • 1:29:52 – What kind of lighting setup do you have in your studio. What light on your canvas when working at night?
  • 1:32:08 – What do you listen to when you work? And with a model?
  • 1:34:25 – Your sense of light is magical. Was it always there, or did it emerge over time?
  • 1:37:18 – How naturally did you fall into your style? Or did you make some very conscious decisions at a specific point to paint the way that you do?
  • 1:40:50 – Limitations you’ve come across in painting?
  • 1:43:30 – The range of possibilities starting out on a painting vs the hard slog of completing a painting. Regrets and wanting to take things back to an earlier stage in a work.
  • 1:47:12 – Planned spontaneity. ‘You would never ask someone you love whether you can kiss them right now’. The downsides of a realist approach to painting.
  • 1:48:40 – Painters who delegate the hard work to others.
  • 1:51:15 – Eroticism as it relates to your work and in oil painting generally
  • 1:56:37 – Historical context, male gaze and #metoo in relation to the nude
  • 2:01:36 – Pros and cons of being an artist?
  • 2:06:10 – ‘Bob Ross is wrong. It’s not always a happy tree.’
  • 2:07:46 – How does abstraction and painting from memory and imagination manifest itself in your practice?
  • 2:11:20 – Strong horizontal lines in your compositions. Can you tell us the motivation?
  • 2:13:04 – How long do your plein air paintings take? Procedure vs indoors?
  • 2:15:30 – What technically do you want to improve on?
  • 2:17:50 – ’Distortion’ vs ‘Focus’. ‘Realist painting sometimes hides the human frailty. ‘
  • 2:21:21 – What are some of your biggest ‘Aha!’ moments as you learned how to paint?
  • 2:24:02 – Your relationship with the guitar, and how music has influenced your work?
  • 2:30:52 – The many ways to demonstrate support for POC (People Of Colour).
  • 2:44:10 – Finding common ground between opposing views. Realism as a conservative discipline.
  • 2:51:31 – Nothing in life is black and white, even purity tests. Online forums are too remote for nuanced debate about politics, but worth trying to move toward civil discourse.
  • 3:03:00 – How do you sum up your 25 years in painting?
  • 3:04:35 – Transition from education to career? What changed stylistically and technically?
  • 3:08:16 – How did you start making money with your art?
  • 3:13:30 – More generally your experience of the business side of the art world?
  • 3:16:30 – What sort of prices are your works achieving in the market? Do you sell work via social media? Do you have much interaction with collectors? Are most of your collectors in the US?
  • 3:19:31 – One thing that you would like to pass on to future generations?

To find out more about Hollis and his work go to:
Hollis’ Instagram

Hollis Dunlap


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Theme music by The Argyle Pimps. Thanks lads.