FPAC Interview

Fort Points Art Community 35 Channel Center

Michael Eder "Ten Large Abstract Landscapes"

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 24, 2011 5-7pm

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Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC): FPAC is catching up with Michael Eder about his work on view at 35 Channel Center Street

FPAC: What inspires you to paint landscape paintings? How did it all begin?

Michael Eder (ME): I was always drawn outdoors to paint, from college days at RISD 30 years ago, and still today. I love the chaos and energy of working from an enormous still life, even if it's moving and changing. I carry that energy indoors to my studio and finish my larger work there. 

FPAC: Rice Fields, Vietnam and the Desert Paintings at 35 Channel Center Street, are both inspired by black and white photos. Why or how did these photos become a focus in your work?

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ME: To my surprise, I find a similar energy and wealth of ideas in black and white documentary photos that I get from working outdoors. They bring me to places I can't go, allowing me to access political subjects that serve as an undercurrent to my work. It began with the Phillip Jones collection from the 70's "Vietnam, Inc.".  The landscapes surrounding the victims and perpetrators of the war became the emotional impetus for large "Rice Field "paintings. I made studies in a series of woodcuts, and moved to large and larger canvases to better surround the viewer in the emotion.

FPAC: As an artist who uses color, how did you choose the colors for your paintings when working from black and white photos?

ME: When I paint outdoors I look more at the way light works than at color relationships. I leave those to chance, which can create surprises. The black and white photos move me in the same way being outdoors can, looking at the drama and layering of lights and darks.

FPAC: How does your medium (oil paint) become parallel in your vision for the final outcome? I guess I am asking, what is it about oils that contributes to your work, what is unique about them? Are all of your works done in oil?

ME: Oils allow me to layer large areas easily, and work the subtleties with the slow drying wet paint. The surface stays "alive" longer. As lights and darks are so important to the final outcome for me, I find oils give me the greatest scope to work with. All my paintings are oils. I also use monoprints and woodcuts for studies, as they are a great tool for exploring ideas, leaving a good deal to chance solutions.

FPAC: Your work appears to have many layers, can you tell us a little about your process?

ME: It's intuitive. I refer back to outdoor studies, to photos, and to other paintings to help me along. I respond to people's responses, and might continue on a piece for years. More often it takes several months to finish a painting. The layers are the result of searching for better answers.  They' create spaces to inhabit while looking.

FPAC: Do you always work in large format? - (all of Eder's paintings at 35 Channel Center Street are between 5-8 feet )

ME: A majority of paintings in the last 10 years are large.  I like the large size because of the fuller experience it can give the viewer, and the space it creates for more complex subjects.  I do many small oils on wood, 16 inch square, as outdoor studies. I also do prints and watercolors.

FPAC: Who is your favorite artist (s) and why?

ME: I constantly change who I like. Long ago it was Arthur Dove and Hartley. A room full of Kandinsky at the Fogg stuck with me for years, as did a Florine Stettheimer.  I love odd painted space of Clifford Still.

FPAC: Whats next on the horizon for you?

ME: I'm working on a series on Gettysburg after a visit there last spring. I'm using Mathew Brady's civil war photos to build woodcut studies and currently three large paintings.

FPAC: Check out Michael Eder's work at 35 Channel Center Street, Fort Point Boston and learn more about him.

Black and white photo- by Phillip Jones courtesy of Vietnam Inc.