Andrew Pranger is the subject of this month’s Local Artist Spotlight. We first met Andrew Pranger on his first day at the office. I wanted to find a little bit more about him so I starting asking the usual questions. Where do you live? What do you do for fun? Do you want to go grab a beer sometime? I found out that Andrew is a painter and his work if REALLY REALLY good. You’ll find some examples of his work throughout the article, but I wanted to dig deeper and find out a little more about this creative genius.
DZM: When did you discover your talent?
AP: I knew that I was an artist from about 3rd grade or at least that’s as far back as I can remember.
DZM: How long have you been painting?
AP: I’ve been oil painting for about 14 years. I started painting when I was given a Kroger bag full of half-used Lukas Studio-grade oils that were left unused from a still-life lesson in 9th grade.
DZM: What type of training or schooling have you receive in your past?
AP: I went to a really hardcore Art specialty high school, The Henrico County Centre for the Arts, in Virginia. Next, I went to Virginia Commonwealth University for a year before being accepted to the University of Brighton in England, one of the best painting schools in Europe.
DZM: What’s your favorite project thus far?
AP: It’s actually the piece I’m working on now. It’s a huge 8 foot wide ‘triple portrait’ that I’m doing of my wife. It’s the biggest piece I’ve ever done, which has been really exciting, but also I’m just really happy with how it’s turning out so far. This piece shows my wife cutting her own hand off with a carpenters saw, and cutting her fingers off with a pair of bolt cutters. I’m in an odd vein of work lately…
DZM: Describe your style?
AP: I’m definitely most influenced by the Baroque artists of the 17th century like Caravaggio, Zurbaran and Rembrandt. That’s where I picked up my love for darkness, high contrast, and lighting. My work is heavily figurative, but not your traditional portraiture. My paintings are lifelike, but you wouldn’t call them “realist”. Similar to how you’d look at a Caravaggio and feel like you could talk to his subjects, hear their voices, feel their pain, but no one thinks that they are looking at a photograph.
DZM: Where do you get inspiration from?
AP: Honestly, I’m not sure. I think the paintings that have been the most successful have kinda come from no-where. An image just pops into my head and I write it down. Also, events that are currently happening in my life, for example, I recently built a deck at my house and that has inspired my latest series of self-mutilation with tools. Lots of fingers smashed and near misses.
DZM: How has Eagle Valley inspired some of your projects?
AP: Moving to the mountains has really lit a fire under me creatively, maybe because there isn’t really a huge contemporary figurative market out here so I feel like I have to work harder to get my stuff out into the world.
DZM: In a world full of creative expression, why painting?
AP: I love the fact that painting is seen as this antiquated medium. It’s old….that’s why I like it. For some reason, I’ve just always seen it as the “real art” and I want to keep it alive. Especially in a world of technology and mobile phone pictures, I like the idea of an image that takes me months to create, on a weird cloth and wood object that I built with my hands. It kinda feels like I am trying in vain to keep something that’s dying alive. Also, I’ve not been very good at much else artistically, so it kinda choose me. I’m no good at sculpture, and you won’t see me wasting hours of my life trying to master it.
DZM: Favorite artist?
AP: Favorite Artist of all time? Easy: Caravaggio. No one captured life as he did. My favorite working artist now? Michaël Borremans. His mark-making economy blows me away and his subject matter is always bizarre and uncomfortable, which has been really inspiring to me.
DZM: What type of canvases do you use?
AP: I build my own canvases starting with wooden stretchers (the frame that the canvas is stretched around) and work on No.12 un-primed cotton duck canvas. It has a really tight weave and is the best surface I have found without using high priced linen. I size my canvases too, which basically just means covering them with a watered-down glue solution to prevent the canvas from rotting over time. I use a water-based primer to start with, which will probably not stand the test of time like oil-based stuff, but I’ll be long dead before that happens.
DZM: What’s the typical response when someone sees one of your paintings?
AP: People usually love it or are confused. I had a small painting of my wife cutting her hand off with a saw at a gallery recently and the owner of the gallery brought an elderly lady up to meet me. She told me that she loved the pieces that I had there, but that piece troubled her. She said, “It would be my favorite painting here if she wasn’t cutting her hand off.” That’s the perfect response to my work. I had somehow managed to create something beautiful and disturbing at the same time for this lady…that’s pretty cool to me.
You can check out some more of Andrew’s work by visiting his website or by following his Instagram page. Andrew’s paintings are for sale and he does commissions if people are interested. Andrew has a few shows coming up soon, including the Vail Valley Art Guild Featured Artist Month. The show is held at the Art Of The Valley Gallery in Avon. He’ll be there showing off his work and hoping to sell some pieces.
We at Dot Zero want to thank Andrew for showing us his paintings and speaking with us. We encourage everyone to use their imagination and remember that just because you don’t paint or draw doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. We’re always on the lookout for artists of the month, so if you or anyone you know would like to be featured, give us a shout on our Facebook page or Email us.
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