Justin Vining: Redefining Landscape Painting

Justin Vining: Redefining Landscape Painting


HOST: Support provided by the
Glick Fund, a CICF fund focused on inspiring philanthropy. Additional support provided
by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, in honor of
the children and families of Christel House. [MUSIC PLAYING] We are here in Andy to meet
one of those amazing artists– not just artists, but also
art educator and lawyer. His story and his art
is going to amaze you. Let’s go meet him. My name is Justin Vining. And I’m a full time artist. And I work out of the
Harrison Center for the arts In Indianapolis, Indiana. I grew up on a farm. And I knew growing up that
I was either going to be a farmer or something else. And as I was is going
through high school, I decided I didn’t want
to become a farmer. And I was thinking about
what cool jobs are out there. And I was like, man, I
want to be an art teacher. That’s the coolest
job in the world. My three years as an elementary
school teacher, I think, you can really see the
evidence of my former students’ influence in my work. From there, I was at that
three year point in teaching. And I wasn’t quite sure
what I wanted to do. And my little brother
gave me a call. And he was like, hey, I’m
gonna go to law school. And it sounded
fun, sounded great. And I was like, you know what? I’m gonna to do this too. During my first
semester of law school, I needed a break from the books. And I picked up a
paint brush and I painted seven-ish paintings
that were significantly stronger than anything I’d done before. And I sold them pretty quick. And all of a sudden, it
got the ball rolling. So I did it again
and did it again. And by the time I
graduated law school, I had sold hundreds of
pieces all over the country. And I felt like if I wanted
to realize this career, every second that I let
pass was time wasted, and the harder it would
become to make it a reality. Are you sketching these all
out and thinking about those? Or is it just like
a level of craft that you just really enjoy? So both. Some of them I do start with
very quick, primitive sketches just to make sure I have
a strong composition. And I use those
building blocks to build some of these compositions,
not all, but some. And so a lot of times,
I’ll start there. And then the rest is
kind of free styling. As a young artist
living off my work, I schedule a very
aggressive show schedule. And with that, comes just
an extreme work ethic. I mean, I’m in the studio
pretty much every single day. The artist next door is
a big ping pong player. So we turn my studio desk right
here into a ping pong table. We usually play a
best-of-five just to get the heart rate up
and finish my cup of coffee. And then right around 10
AM-ish, I pull out the paints and work till probably about
3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, and then go home, walk
the dogs, and kind of just have a normal evening,
like everyone else. In show season–
completely different. I put in a solid 12-hour-ish
time, really focused, and then do it all again. And some days are
longer than that. Going to law school,
I was surrounded by more entrepreneurial
business-minded people that helped me see not just
creating beautiful art, but they taught me
how to both market it but then build a
business around it. There is a balance to be
struck between creating marketable, sellable art
and personal exploration, creating for the
sake of creating, and putting marketability aside. Tell me about these
beautiful charcoal pictures that you’re working on and how
you got motivated to make them. JUSTIN VINING: I had just
moved into a new neighborhood just a few blocks away
from my art studio. So I oftentimes either walk or
ride my bike here, and usually, early in the morning,
when the light is exceptional, or in the evening,
when it’s also exceptional. And as an artist
and a visual person, being drawn in by
these new surroundings, I really felt compelled
to capture that. These are actually a little bit
different for me in the sense that I’ve tried to capture,
accurate proportions. I generally don’t try
so hard to do that. HOST: Right, right. JUSTIN VINING: I generally– HOST: They’re very realistic
for what you do, man. Yeah. I might, when I turn
them into paintings, maybe skew the perspective
an exaggerate it a bit. Right. I may not. I haven’t entirely decided
how far I’m gonna push it. But for now, I just felt
compelled to completely change it up, tighten
everything up, do more accurate perspective,
and be really inspired by the beautiful surroundings
of this new neighborhood. Looking back at my
experience, in middle school and high school, I
never would consider myself one of those kids that
was the best artist in class. In fact, I think that’s why
I was drawn to art education, because you can be
passionate about art, but you didn’t necessarily have
to have an extreme skill level to be successful doing it. You just had to love it. Through years of hard work
and pushing myself to improve, I’ve been able to
maybe go past that, and I think I’m creating
successful work now. I don’t know about
you, but I love how Justin is redefining what
an abstract landscape looks like, and certainly his
use of vibrant colors contrasting with
the black and white. I’m going to try my
hand at this idea, and pretty much work
from my imagination. Let’s take a look at
what we’re going to need. The first thing is
watercolor paper. It’s about 105-pound paper,
which is pretty thick. Next thing we need is watercolor
paints or watercolor tray. Whichever is fine. Third, brushes, water, and
paper towels, of course. Fourth, I have a permanent black
marker with a pretty fine tip. Last, our idea printed out and
a pencil for lightly sketching. Let’s get started. As you’re sketching, don’t
forget the push lightly. Eventually, you might
want to erase this, or you want to make sure
that the pencil doesn’t show through the watercolor paint. It may not seem like
I’m using much paint, but this watercolor
paint in the tube is very concentrated, so a
little bit goes a long way. One technique I’m using
here is wet on wet, when you take a brush with
water and paint water, and then paint watercolor
paint on top of it. One thing you have to remember
with watercolor painting is that the paper will absorb
some of the color as it dries. So don’t be afraid
to go pretty bold, but also make sure that it
still stays transparent. That’s key. As you see me use this
marker very slowly, I’m concentrating on using the
very tip of the marker only. That way, I make a
nice, clean, thin line. All right. I’m gonna stop for now. But one thing you can
see is how difficult it is skewing the
perspective, as well as how difficult it is using one
of these fine tip markers. I have a whole lot
of respect for what Justin is able to create. But it’s a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see
what you create. So remember, be creative, be
innovative, and be art-rageous.

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