Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:07

'Pattern Forming' displays Swift Current artist's talent

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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For Swift Current artist David Tuttle the process of creating art is far more interesting when done in different ways.


A solo exhibition of his work is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Swift Current (AGSC), featuring five ways of making art.
“I usually tell people that I do lots of different things,” he said.
The exhibition, titled Pattern Forming, is on display at the gallery until April 26. A coffeehouse evening with a walk and talk tour by the artist takes place March 20.
The art works on display in this exhibition represents more than 10 years of work that were created in five different art media.
Tuttle’s artistic interests were already divided between abstract painting and figurative art when he studied at the Ontario College of Art.
“Then you feel torn, but that’s when I was younger,” he said. “Now I don’t care.”
Now his focus is simply on the creation of art, whether it is through abstract patterns, charcoal drawings, acrylic paintings, collage or kite making.
“I like all of these ways of making art,” Tuttle said. “I can’t say there’s a favourite way. It depends. If I’m working on a pattern painting, it takes me months to do. After six to eight months of working on one painting, I get tired of working like that.”
Pattern painting is a more rational approach because he needs to plan the design and he will also do colour studies during the preparation phase.
“So I know what the colour is going to be, I know the way the pattern is, then I paint it and it’s just a matter of pure labour,” he said. “Then when I get sick of that pure labour, I just back off for a couple of days and go doing something more intuitive.”
In contrast the creation of a collage, a drawing or a painting is a more explorative process and he is not always sure what the end product will look like.
Tuttle created the collages in this exhibition from drawings that illustrated an old encyclopedia dating back to 1910.
“It took me a long time to figure out what to do with them because I didn’t want to throw them out and I also didn’t want to cut them out,” he said. “I tried to use them whole, and it doesn’t work. You got to cut them up. Once I started doing that, bam, breakthrough.”
Each art medium requires a different kind of skill. He considers traditional drawing and painting to be the most demanding.
“Painting on canvas, either from imagination or from what you’re seeing or from observation, probably takes the most ability and skill, but then the pattern paintings I have to know about colour,” he said.
The drawings in the exhibition are a result of exploring his interest in bones and antlers as an artistic theme since 2001. In the 1980s he did a set of drawings of suits of armour.
“You do a drawing and then you get an idea for another drawing and then another and it comes out of the process of working,” said Tuttle.
His intention is not simply to sketch the object, but to transform it into something different that represents his interpretation of the subject.
“I’ve never been interested in realism,” he said. “You can start there, but that’s not where I want to go ever. You want to do something else. For me it has to start with a subject that catches me and in this case it was bones. ... You just start drawing them and then eventually it takes you somewhere and you develop the work. It’s not necessarily master work, but that’s how the process work, and my subject matters tends to be a little odd.”
Tuttle’s interest in kites started in 1981 when he had to build one at art school and it continued for the 20 years that he lived in Vancouver, where he completed a bachelor degree in visual arts at Simon Fraser University.
There are four kites in the current exhibition, including a recent one with a pattern art design.
“I’ve always been interested in kites as an art form and I hadn’t necessarily reached that point, the high point that some people have,” he said. “The ones that are in here I like a lot. Ideally when I put a lot of time into a particular kite, I want it to be art.”
Kites were the reason for his first visit to Swift Current in 1997, when he was invited by AGSC Director and Curator Kim Houghtaling for an exhibition on the kite as art. Tuttle also helped to plan the first Windscape Kite Festival in 1998. He enjoyed his time on the prairie and decided to stay in Swift Current.
“When I came here the first time everybody was so friendly,” he recalled. “I came here as the kite guy for the first festival and people treated me as some kind of a celebrity.”
After years of growing up and living in Victoria and Vancouver the adjustment to life in a much smaller community was not easy. He returned to Vancouver after one year, but came back to Swift Current a few years later to work at the AGSC. He is still employed at the AGSC as an art preparator and registrar.
His works have previously been part of group exhibitions at the gallery, but this is his first solo exhibition in Swift Current.
“It’s always good to see the work, and especially to frame it and to see it all together always look better than a bunch of paintings leaning against the wall in your bedroom,” he laughed.
The coffeehouse evening for Tuttle’s exhibition takes place March 20 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5. There will be hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, live music and a walk and talk tour with the artist.

Read 2110 times Last modified on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:10

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