An interview with acrylic artist, Steve Wilda who was featured in the spring 2016 issue of Acrylic Artist. You can read the feature story about Steve Wilda and his art, as well as the complete issue buy ordering your download or print issue at NorthLightShop.com.
Acrylic Artist: In the spring issue of Acrylic Artist, we talked a great deal about how you are drawn to objects in decline—old trucks left to rust in a field, toppled water towers, and lately smaller, found objects. You have an ability to see the beauty in things many of us would not give a second look. Since last we spoke, what new treasures have you unearthed in your secret caches in the woods?
Steve Wilda: Actually, the objects of late have been treasures created, not found. For Honed to Imperfection (acrylic,11×15), this was a first, creating the ‘props’, having a craft day spent chopping down and sharpening the pencils into stubs, plus a broken one for added variety. Creating these felt sacrilegious—not a usual part of my process. In painting them, the wood surfaces had to appear rough, as if sharpened on the stone wheel.
AA: In Honed to Imperfection, I see a shift in subject matter. A grinding or sharpening stone is tough, strong—so strong that it is used to break other materials down. Is this focus on an item with more permanence subconscious or are you looking for items of strength?
SW: Quite simply, when I found the small grind wheel at an antique shop, it was a curiosity. Oddities like this always attract my attention. And the stone wheel certainly wasn’t perfectly round. The concept came immediately, as I always sharpened my pencils with an X-Acto knife. Originally there was only one long and one short pencil on my design. It’s sometimes best to get sidetracked with other work—let ideas develop and return to them later. As you can see in the final painting, I evolved from my original plan. There’s variety with the numerous stubs, more to consider in the revised design. The fact that the painting is of pencils brings this full circle to my years of drawing with them.
AA: I find the discarded, used-up pencils intriguing. They make me wonder what project the owner of the pencils was working on so diligently that he used so many.
SW: The project is creating a perfectly sharpened pencil. I’m not sure he succeeded in sharpening the perfect one. He may still be trying; the pile could get larger. Or maybe he got it, the perfect pencil. Which one is the best do you think? Perhps the owner is an eccentric and in his persistence got carried away. Yes, that’s it.
AA: When you paint with such detail of flawed, forgotten objects, you force yourself and the viewer to see all the good and the bad—the rust, nicks and broken edges—why is there beauty in the damaged?
SW: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, the damaged holds such fascination because of the character that results through their aging. How objects survive (or not, as the case may be) through time and the elements, the imperfections and deteriorations makes them curiosities. Part of my fascination is with the history of the objects, who owned them and where they came from, and I will never know that mystery. Their unusual mystique says it for me. These objects I hold in the highest regard as any artist does in what they find inspiring. They scream for attention to be captured in a piece of artwork.