Dean Mitchell: Painting Your Heart

“Artists have to constantly realize that art is a language unto itself,” Dean Mitchell says. “It?s all about communicating human emotions. Whether it?s anxiety?like if you look at a Jackson Pollock you can see that he was a very confused individual, and his work radiates that. There was a lot of tension in that stuff. Out of that craziness emerged some serious human emotional form of communication.”


Gordon (oil, 30×40)

Dean Mitchell?s theory is that if you work honestly and follow the flow of your own creative nature, your artistic personality can?t help but surface in time. Then, as you begin to recognize this artistic self, you build on your strengths while at the same time probing your weaknesses. “My weakness when I was coming up was that I couldn?t make objects look very realistic,” Mitchell says. “I was very good with shapes and composition. But I had a cousin who was very good at rendering objects. So we?d enter these little shows and my cousin would win all the prizes all the time because his stuff was very good technically. I used to get frustrated. My art teacher said, ?He can render well. But you see abstractly. He doesn?t. You can learn how to render objects.? But that didn?t mean anything to me then because I wasn?t getting reinforced when I entered the shows.”

“To make something your own, you have to bring your own life experiences to it,” Mitchell says. “It has nothing to do with approaches or techniques. It?s a part of living that sets you apart, the fact that your experience is going to be different from another person. That?s what you have to put into a work of art. By painting your experiences and being true to who you are. Out of that will emerge a personality.”


Sunlight (oil)

“In the beginning, it was very hard to sell what I do,” Mitchell says. “Nobody wanted it. Particularly if you?re in your 20s or early 30s, trying to make a living as a painter is difficult. First of all, collectors are very skeptical of young painters. They don?t know if you?re going to end up working at the local post office next week. And that has a lot to do with whether you experiment too. You have to find a balance so that you don?t lose your edge in experimenting in painting, and so that you don?t get trapped into doing the same pot and bowl over and over. Some artists do that?they can render the hell out of an apple. You can almost predict what some artists will paint. It all looks the same. It drives me crazy.”

“You?ll find out that artists who really went with their hearts and went with what they believed in, those are the ones that people truly embrace and remember later,” Mitchell says.

Jane M. Mason has received numerous awards for her art, and her artwork is held in collections across the country. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and two sons. She can be contacted at JMM2Paint@aol.com; her Web site is www.watchingpaintdry.com.

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