Davey Barnwell | Issue Ten Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work 

My art practice has traveled with me between several cities; I am currently based in Portland, Oregon.  After studying Studio Art at Dartmouth College, art has become a constant through line in my life.  Though painting is my focus, I also consider drawing, writing, and design as central to my practice.  I usually have many projects going on at the same time so I can bounce between different scales and materials.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work 

My work is grounded in cartography and physical space, as well as the interactions and moments that are suspended in those spaces.  I think a good painting is like a good conversation—there is rhythm, a cacophony of color, and space to pause and breathe.  

What art do you most identify with? any specific influences or research areas?

Recently I have been reading a lot of poetry—Tony Hoagland, Jenny Xie, Claribel Alegría, Laura Gilpin, Ted Kooser, and Mary Oliver are some of my favorites.  The best poems have a magical way of reframing the most ordinary moments.  

What prompted you to participating in our art for advent project? 

I was compelled by the concept of creating a piece each day, as a ritual to process the day’s events, colors, and patterns.  I generally believe that my work benefits from structures or limitations, because constraints force me to turn off the side of my brain that tends to overthink or edit.

How did you find the Art for Advent project? What was your routine for making?

It was important to me that each piece be uniform in size and materials, so I prepared paper in advance.  Each evening I dedicated an hour or two to create the advent art, starting in pen and then layering watercolor and more ink.  The art was indelibly linked to whatever had been turning in my mind that day, and I found it a very cathartic ritual to transform each day into color.  I am considering how I can continue the practice throughout the year, perhaps in a weekly format.

Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?

I have recently started carving into the wood under my oil paintings as a way to bring texture and light into the work, so my most essential tool has quickly become a set of carving gouges.  Several years ago I used to carve into my paintings with the back of a hammer, so the gouges are a bit of an upgrade.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I recently painted a mural in Tampa, Florida and I have another mural project in the works in the first quarter of 2020.  I am also continuing my oil painting practice and experimenting with some new textile projects.


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