Artist Sings the Blues

Thirty years ago Damon Maurice Chisolm created his first piece of art, a hippopotamus drinking water, as a present for his grandmother. “I laugh when I look at the picture in comparison to the rest of the art I now create,” says the Detroit artist. “I believe that as children we?re in the most creative stage as an artist, because once we grow older—if not mindful—we start to restrict our creativity by focusing on what someone else will think.”


The Blues (acrylic, 20×16) was a finalist in the 2002 Art Competition.

Chisolm struggles to hold onto this off-the-cuff creativity he first experienced at the age of 3, letting his shifts in mood control how and what he?s inspired to paint. He lets his mind wander, and sketches the ideas that run in and out of his brain before finally choosing a specific sketch to expand into a painting.

The Blues, Chisolm?s first endeavor on canvas, was a product of these mood- spurred brainstorms. The portraitist calls his inspiration for this painting “natural” since the artistic ideas and processes were spontaneous, rather than a product of careful planning.

“I must be in the mood to paint,” Chisolm says. “The Blues took two days to complete, but I was in the mood to complete it during the time I was creating it.” This experimental portrait is an exploration of light sources done in dramatic reds and blues, rendering a glowing effect on various parts of the face. “The surprise to me after completing The Blues was how the iridescent blue glowed when the lights came off,” said Chisolm.

Indeed, This painting, like many of Chisolm?s, evokes a very specific emotion in the viewer. “My enjoyment in painting comes from those that view may artwork who can relate it to a moment in their lives.” Currently, he?s working on a piece entitled Passion, another expression of feeling, depicting the embrace of a man and a woman.

Leslie Ecklund lives in Anchorage.

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