Art Chat with David Rice
Blending an organic style with graphic overlays, David Rice paints breathtaking scenes where the natural world and manmade coexist harmoniously. In anticipation of the upcoming exhibit STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opening this Friday at Stephanie Chefas Projects, we had a chat with the Portland based artist. Here he talks about the inspiration behind his work for the show, his admiration for the Pacific Northwest, and Alphonse Mucha.
What was it about Portland that made you fall in love and decided to call this city home? How has living in the Pacific Northwest shaped your creativity?
I moved to Portland for a job working as a Commercial Illustrator in 2012. Unfortunately, that job only lasted about 9 months. Rather than return to San Francisco or my native Colorado, I decided to stay in Portland. I was drawn to the creative spirit this town has. I feel like everyone is actively pursuing their childhood dream of what their adult career should be. Having so many talented friends and colleagues living and working next to me keeps me inspired day after day.
Tell us about your process. How does a work evolve from conception to completion?
I usually start with choosing a subject or idea and decide how I want that portrayed. Then I start to compile reference photos. I always try and use my own photos if I can before searching out others. I take a lot of pictures with my camera when I am out on hikes and trips. After I gather references I will "frankenstein" a rough composition in photoshop. Next I will sketch out a rough outline of what I want the overall piece to look like. I then choose a color pallet. Next I hit the wood shop and build my panel. Then I start pushing paint around. I start with the background which is usually several layers that each slightly reveal themselves in the final piece. After that it is just getting the painting as close to the original sketch as I can.
Your work for Straight Outta Portland is a beautiful blend of two Portland icons - the White Stag Sign and a Western Meadowlark. Tell us about the inspiration behind this piece.
I went pretty literal with my piece for this show. First the White Stag sign is a banner for the city, like our space needle or statue of liberty. I chose to portray the old slogan "Made in Portland" which I feel is our towns unofficial motto and largest point of pride. This is a city of Makers, and it is what sets us apart from a lot of other places. The ripped paper signifies that our craftsmanship is always being challenged by outside forces. The Western Meadowlark is Oregon's state bird and I used it to represent the creative souls that will always inhabit this city. The people who proudly put the "Made in Portland" stamp on everything they do.
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Wow, that's a tough question. I have been looking at Alphonse Mucha's Slav Epic series recently so maybe one of the paintings from there. They are all huge, masterfully rendered and composed. They depict important points in Slavic history but the physical paintings have some history of their own. They were in danger of being seized by Nazis and constantly being moved during the socialist occupation of the area where they were being kept. I don't think any of the paintings would fit in my home though. I am sure my answer would change on a week to week basis.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
I used to do broadcast operations work for ESPN
If I were to spend the day with David, what could I expect?
It's usually some variation of emails, painting, woodshop, podcasts, long walk, and eating something with a lot of Sriracha.
STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opens February 5th at Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave. #202, Portland, OR 97214, www.stephaniechefas.com