[This is part of a series of interviews with GASHER contributors. In this installment, Managing Editor, Whitney Kerutis, chats with October 2018’s Art Feature, Jared Boyd.]
It is a Sunday afternoon when I am welcomed into abstract artist and mechanical engineer, Jared Boyd’s, minimalist mid-century home. Immediately, I am drawn to the three large paintings hanging on the walls of his combined sitting and dining room. Illuminated by the large window on the opposite side of the room, the dimension of markings is striking and I find myself tempted to stand in front of each one for a day, twisting my head this way and that way in an effort to see them better.
I think, for a moment, that it is odd to have one’s own artwork hanging in one’s home, but Boyd is quick to explain that he hangs the paintings he thinks might be done up on the clean, sterile wall space to know for sure. I’m drawn to this method of removing the art from the space of creation in order to effectively step out of the role of creator and into the role of viewer. So drawn to this method and these paintings, in fact, I forget all the normal pleasantries and start right into inquiry. Boyd is easy-going, demonstrating to me how to properly view an abstract painting, his hand moving gently in a pattern across one of the paintings like Mr. Miyagi.
Before I know it, we are in his at-home studio, which is also his laundry room, talking freely while his two dogs weave through our ankles. It feels as if we have stepped into a new world: the airy, clean home exchanged for a small, paint splattered room. It is in this room that I realize the full potential of abstract art: an allowance for chaos; also: pleasure.
Whitney Kerutis: Can you talk more about how you became drawn to abstract art?
Jared Boyd: Well, as I said before, I am an engineer and because of that, maybe, I don’t have a great sense of style—as you can see in this house, I like neutral walls and neutral furniture. So, as a collector of art, I’ve always been drawn to abstract art as a way of incorporating color and movement into a space. When I first started painting, in general, I had really wanted to be a landscape artist. In fact, I remember thinking I didn’t want to be an abstract artist because I felt like anybody could do it. But I ended going through these phases of landscape, portrait, and figures—never really feeling that anything resonated with me. Then, by chance, I took a workshop with Cynthia Brown and she talked about intuitive art and having a conservation with the canvas. That, for me, was quite life changing and ever since that workshop, I’ve never wanted to paint anything else.
WK: I think people, still to this day, have an assumption that abstract art is just a moment of emotion in which an artist throws paint around a canvas. It sounds as if, for you, it is much more of a diligent process?
JB: Yeah, and it is a process that doesn’t always end up being aesthetically successful. What I love about abstract art is that it is a moment of meditation for me. The critical eye doesn’t come in until the very end. While I’m in the moment, I paint a layer, rotate that canvas, and step back. I’ll continue that process anywhere from a few hours to a few months until I come to a point that when I step back, I know, intuitively, that that is the right orientation for the painting and then I can finish it.
WK: Where do you think abstract art has a place today? We know that, when it first came into popularity during WW1, abstract art was a reflection of a fractured reality for artists living through a destructive time in history. Where does it fit into our lives now?
JB: I don’t really like when people try to find things in my art because, I don’t really understand why people are always trying to find things. Why does something have to be something? I’m resistant of defining my art, working in the field of engineering where we are always defining everything, and try to embrace just allowing it to exist. That is the beauty of abstract art, it doesn’t have to be anything, it can just exist. I’d rather have a person look at one of my pieces and not try to look for what it is but rather ask what it is doing to the space in which it is in. So, maybe, what I am trying to say, is that abstract art today is adding a non-objective aesthetic to your life.
WK: So, you wrote about the value of practice and moving off of the canvas in one of your recent blog posts. Can you talk more what that looks like for you?
JB: I do markings in my journal or on larger pieces of paper and, ideally, I’d be doing some sort of practice every day. But, I don’t paint every day and that isn’t something I want to force myself into doing either. I go through phases and allowing myself to go through phases (painting vs. not painting) is part of the process.
WK: I find the word “marking” to be particularly interesting because, “to mark” something is to lay claim to it in some way (violently or otherwise). How does it translate in abstract art?
JB: It’s like your own private language. I can be in a workshop with 5-6 other painters, and we will all be doing the same exercise but, the results look totally different. It adds a unique signature. In fact, I don’t sign the front of my paintings ever. I tried it once and immediately scrubbed it off. I just feel like the focus should be on the art.
WK: You work in a space that is not only in your home but also in a place where chores happen. How do you go about creating that artistic environment, mentally as well as physical space?
JB: I thought about having a more formal studio outside of the home but, with work, I already spend so much time away from home and I didn’t want to be in an isolated space where I’d feel pressured to sit there and force myself to paint. We have an extra bedroom here that I could have used too, but I like being close to everything. The chores are actually an advantage. They help me stay productive because they give me something to do while a layer of paint is drying or I am contemplating what to do next to a painting. This is definitely the only messy spot in the house… But I love it, because it is the one space where I accept mess into my life.