Linus Galleries, Fine Art Gallery
2014 Artist Interview Series
Linus Galleries, a Los Angeles contemporary art gallery, presents The Artist Interview Series. Our Linus artists are from all over the world and come from a variety of different practices and backgrounds. Read on to gain insight into the creative process and personality of our featured artist. This week we feature Len Upin who recently exhibited two of his incredibly detailed ink drawings in our Vulnerability vs. Strength show.
1) Please tell us your name, artistic practice of choice, and location in the world.
I’m Len Upin and live in a suburb Northwest of Chicago, Illinois. For the past eight years I have been drawing large portraits with pen and ink.
2) Are you self taught or did you formally study art?
I earned a BFA degree in Art Education from the University of Illinois and a MA degree in painting from Northern Illinois University.
3) What subject matter appears most in your artwork? What do you love about that subject? What do you dislike?
I’ve always been interested in the human face. When I grew up there was always artwork, mainly portraits, in my parents home. My father was a very creative, self-taught person and my older brother, is a formally trained painter. Both of them choose to create portraits. There were also two walls filled with photos of generations of our family members. Portraiture was a ‘no brainer’ for me. It is just another extension of my make-up.
4) Tell us about your process:
I work from photos and an opaque projector to enlarge my large images. I concentrate on the humorous and dramatic elements of the expressions. I crop the portraits showing extreme close-up views. The images cropped and oversized images is a powerful combination.
5) Do you have any secret party tricks or talents unrelated to your art making?
I am a “Big-Time” gardener along with my wife. We have six different flower areas and two vegetable gardens on all four sides around our house. It can be a full time, around-the-calendar hobby. I draw mostly in the winter and on rainy days. When I start commissioned portraits, that becomes a priority.
6) Tell us about your ‘aha’ moment, or any kind of artistic breakthrough or evolution you experienced?
I had a stroke in 2003. My aphasia disability forced me to take an early retirement as a teacher. For a few years I worked with a number of speech therapists to help me regain my art of language. At the same time, I enrolled in a local junior college and private art studios to keep my art skills fresh. My “Aha” moment happened when I was looking in the mirror playing around with a self-portrait. I started on a loose, continuous line contour and continued to fill in the fields of values using random scribble marks. The drawing was loose, fresh and well – therapeutic.
7) Any parting advice for budding artists?
Over the years, I taught, mentored, coached, advised and parented more then 2500 budding artists. Most of my students just took my classes for fun, a break out of their academic schedule. However, many others were planning or realized they may be able to go beyond their young aesthetic experiences. I told them they need a solid academic training about the ‘classics’. At the same time, I pushed them to create new ideas and new experiences. Variety is important, yes, but continuity of individual styles and statement are key.
If you are interested in purchasing artwork from this artist or any of the artists featured on this blog or our website please CONTACT the GALLERY
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