Conversation with David Andree

David Andree is an artist whose work spans painting, drawing, sculpture, and sound. He has had work exhibited at James Cohan Gallery and Metro Pictures in New York City, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Hallwalls, the Big Orbit Gallery, Exhibit-A and the Burchfield Nature and Art Center in upstate New York, in addition to numerous venues around Minneapolis, Minnesota including SooVac and the Rochester Art Center. Recipient of a 2014 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. His work is collected by the Target Corporation as well included in private collections throughout Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and the United Kingdom.

How do you structure your week? 

I usually split my time between creating pieces and working with my students at UofA. I break my week into percentages. 40% of my week is spent working on my pieces, 40% is spent teaching my students, and 20% is spent doing a lot of preparation work (ordering more supplies, meetings, etc.). I teach two days a week all day so that I’m able to make art all day for other days. Weekends are normal times for me to just take a break from the week and paint.

How do you seek out opportunities in the art world? 

Networking is one of the ways that I seek out opportunities. This means talking to people you know in the art world, both of you being aware of what the other does, and reaching out to each other whenever an opportunity arises. There are also a lot of online resources that you can use to get your work out there (region specific challenges, online forums, etc.).

Who are your biggest influences? 

Tim Knowles is one of my biggest influences because he takes simple art concepts and does them in very interesting ways. Claude Heath is another one because he’s a really inventive drawer. Anne Gale is another one because she is a really big observation painter and I enjoy the concepts she uses.

Are you working on any new pieces right now? If so, what are they? 

I’ve done a project in the past where I wrapped wet fabric around pieces of a cold so that when the fabric froze, it would suspend the landscape in an icy picture for a limited amount of time. As of now, I’m working on a project with plywood and shop cord. It will be a painting that takes the shape of whatever you’re laying it on.

What mediums were the easiest for you to use? What were the hardest? 

The easiest mediums for me are drawing and painting because those are the fields that I work in. I have the most experience in those areas. The hardest mediums for me are anything that is brand new to me. I try to experiment with sound, video, and sculptures but those are some of the harder things because they aren’t necessarily my field of expertise.

Do you think you have to be able to draw before you can learn to paint? 

No, you don’t have to be able to draw before you can paint. Being able to draw does make it slightly easier to learn to paint because you know how to do the basics of keeping your hand steady and drawing lines. Drawing and painting are the same when it comes to translating the world or thoughts but they are also very different. Drawing is immediate because you come up with an idea and you put it to paper. Painting has more time in-between it making it a much slower process.

How long do you believe it takes to master painting? 

It depends. I’ve seen people get pretty great at drawing and painting in a single college semester. You just have to work really hard at it. In terms of mastering it, that takes a lifetime. I haven’t even gotten close to mastering it.

How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world? 

Friends, social media, newspapers, magazines, and art exhibits usually keep me up to date on everything to do with the art world.

Do you have a mentor or a coach? 

I see my colleagues as my mentors and coaches because they are in the same field as me which makes it easier to get honest feedback from them. I’m also married to someone who also makes art so that’s also pretty great.

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist? 

One of the biggest challenges is finding balance between your life and your art because you can easily get sucked into a piece that you’re trying to do. This could lead to you neglecting other aspects of your life. Another challenge is that your career is really out of your control. You can’t force people to look at your work or put it into exhibits and that’s really challenging to deal with.

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