Studio Visit: Dan Gratz

Studio Visit: Dan Gratz

Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with painter Dan Gratz.

Q: I loved your paintings that were on display at Figure One. How much do you charge for them, because I really want one?

A: I can give you a price list. There's a range. It depends on the size.

Q: Are you from Kansas City?

A: I lived there for a time, but I'm actually from northwest Indiana. I was born in California, and my dad has a piano store that he started in northwest Indiana, so I guess I grew up there.

Q: How long have you been painting?

A: The first painting I did I was 19 — so for nine years. It was a pretty good painting — my first painting — but after that it was bad. I wasn't a natural painter, and my color sense wasn't good.

Q: Did you major in painting as an undergraduate at Indiana University?

A: I entered with a major in fine arts, because before you go into painting, you take all the prerequisites. I took color theory and sculpture and all that so I'm kind of a late painter. The BFA program in painting is really competitive. It took me three tries to get in. I definitely wasn't a natural; it took more work for me.

Q: I'm surprised. You seem to have most of the painterly techniques down.

A: Well, I don't know. I went on this Hudson River School quest last summer. I felt deficient. I wondered how the Hudson River School artists were able to achieve those luminescent effects. I looked at Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran. I was trying to learn their techniques by looking at and studying their paintings. I came to the conclusion there weren't techniques, per se. I think every one of them figured out how it worked for them. The way I approach painting now is, "This is my own system." I'm still using all the things I learned, whether in an academic setting or not, but technique is something I think about a little more abstractedly than I used to.

Q: What are you doing in your paintings? They look like collages, but I heard everything is painted.

A: They actually are paintings of collages that I make or my brother and I make together, using pictures from different magazines and time periods. One of the challenges is to reflect the qualities of the different time periods. I stick pretty close to the collages, but it always changes. The collages are designed to not be too obvious. When I make the collages, I think about landscape, and when I start painting, I think about a still life.

Q: Do you use oils?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you saying something with your paintings?

A: Yes, but a lot of what I am saying is conveyed through painting, so for me to try and articulate it verbally would fail in many respects. If you're interested in painting, it really becomes a conversation with painting. For example, there are references in my paintings to metal music.

Q: Are you a fan of metal?

A: Yes, I like all kinds of music. My paintings are not illustrations of the music. Just some of the qualities of the music are in my paintings is the closest way I can say it. What is interesting to me is thinking about the landscape and forming an identity in some way. How does a landscape from a magazine inform you as a person? That's something indeterminate, like how metal influences a painting.

Q: Are you a third-year master's of fine arts student at the University of Illinois? What are your plans for after you receive your degree?

A: Yes, I'm third-year. The plan is to do artist residencies. I've been applying to all the residencies and making connections and working at the same time and getting out there. Eventually, I want to teach.

Editor's note: Gratz will show some of his paintings as part of the School of Art + Design Master of Fine Arts Exhibition, which is April 11-28 at the Krannert Art Museum.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments