Interview: Jonathan Todryk

Jonathan Todryk

Dallas, United States

Please tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

I am 34 years old and was born in Minneapolis, MN. I now live near Dallas, Tx with my wife and kids. I have always been interested in the arts as long as I can remember. My house growing up was filled with my fathers paintings. He did a lot of landscape paintings and I remember looking at them closely as a boy and trying to understand how it all came together to make a picture. I was intrigued and started drawing at a young age, comic characters, sports figures and later portraits. My dad saw my interest in art and encouraged me a lot. The first painting I ever did was of a landscape I made with him. He still has that painting in his home. I think of those memories as seeds planted that would eventually grow and move me into pursuing what I love. There was a gap from the age of 18 to about 31 where I did not make any art. I pursued music and eventually just began working different jobs. My life seemed to lack purpose and intent and I was looking for who I was. A few people including my dad encouraged me to start painting again and I haven’t looked back. That was almost 3 years ago and I am making up for lost time and loving what I do.

We would like to know more about your style and technique, what materials do you use?

I use a variety of materials. About a year ago I had been looking for some material to add more depth and texture to my work, which led me to the hardware store where I found an acrylic latex based concrete. It has become an integral part of my work and I’ve really grown into this material. I also use acrylics, spray paints and Charcoal and most of my work is on linen. I wouldn’t say I have a defined technique. One piece may start with some kind of gestural marks with paint or another may start with concrete and taping. I’ve found the less I plan and think before starting the better. I allow each layer, each movement to lead me to the next. My favorite pieces are ones I’ve worked and reworked. The ones that have been several paintings before. The ones I risked ruining and letting go of, those tell the best stories.

Tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it? How long have you been working there?

I’ve been in my current studio for a few months now. It is within walking distance of where we live. Actually it is a garage I have rented and made into a work space. There are no windows but I’ve set up some great lighting and I have covered the floor and walls with drop clothe. The back wall is where I take photos of my work. For me it is great because it is my own space and it is close to home. I have shelves on one side filled with paints, brushes and tools. The other side is has canvases, some being worked and some finished. In another corner I have some lumber to use to make frames and shipping crates. I am thankful for this humble work space and make the best use of it I can.

What does your usual working day look like in the studio? What are your habits? What music do you usually listen to?

I am in the studio daily, although there is no set time. When I first started the only time I was able to paint was at night so that has kind of carried into now. I typically work late morning until sometimes late at night. It’s nice being so close to home because I can take time to see my kids and family and then come back out to continue. But day to day consists of gathering material and supplies in the morning, working on older pieces, starting new ones, shipping out work etc. It is also important for me to take time to read, write and catch up on emails. Basically all the other behind the scenes stuff that allows me to continue to make art.

Usually I don’t listen to much music while working but the last couple days I’ve been listening to Nils Frahm which led to a bunch of other instrumental music and I love it.

What inspires you most of all to create new paintings?

For me it is a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. I have a voracious desire to create and painting fulfills that desire. Painting gives me the words to communicate and the ability to express emotions, thoughts and faith. It is my way of being open and somehow that connects me to others in a closer way. The thought that maybe what I do can inspire another person and can in some way speak to them and help them is incredible. It takes faith to paint and believe that in some way it matters and can help or inspire another.

What are your plans for this year?

I’ve recently transitioned in to painting full time so this year I plan on a lot of continued hard work. But really I just want to learn and grow and improve and take whatever opportunity comes my way.

Your thoughts that you want to share with our readers.

Take risk.

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