October 6 – 31, 2014
Christopher Troutman, who lives and works in Beaumont, TX, will exhibit his charcoal drawings. “I work from imagination, shifting points of view presented in drawings from the memories that initiate them,” he said. “I strive to avoid external references until my ability to visualize a subject fails, after which I use observational sketches and photographs to complete final details.” Troutman’s drawings place the audience in unexpected and sometimes overwhelming spaces, enabling the resonant experiences from which the drawings are inspired to achieve a similar resonance with viewers.
Troutman holds an MFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Long Beach and a BFA in Drawing and Painting with a minor in Art History from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Art at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
In my current body of work, drawing is my primary means of expression. The immediacy of drawing allows a close connection between mark and thought, as working from imagination is central to my process. I build content in my work through an interaction with drawing materials, particularly charcoal and sometimes ink, and use mark-making, layering, erasing and smudging, as opposed to selecting a medium offhand at the service of an idea. As a result, progressive stages of a drawing determine its content: compositionally, I begin with lines and shapes, yet occasionally with a specific subject in mind from previously completed sketches, which suggest figures and environments. This subject matter interacts to imply narrative and the passage of time, which I enhance by dividing drawings into multiple sections. Recently, I have used multi-sectioned drawings to examine similarities and differences between my memories of the U.S.’s Midwest and of southern Japan—the two places I reside each year—by juxtaposing visual and spatial features unique to both locations.
My subjects are human figures in contemporary urban settings, whom I enhance by depicting them from unfamiliar points of view, to reveal the value of exploring everyday visual experience in drawing. I work from imagination, shifting points of view presented in drawings from the memories that initiate them. I strive to avoid external references until my ability to visualize a subject fails, after which I use observational sketches and photographs to complete final details. My interests in depicting the passage of time, dynamic space defined by the human figure and linear perspective, and drawing from imagination come from the influence of comic book art—work by Lienil Yu, for example—as well as art examining the figure in urban and domestic settings within active compositions, such as in work by Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, and Robert Birmelin.
Lastly, my drawings are large-scale and hung unmediated by frames, bringing them into the audience’s immediate space and making the process each drawing has undergone directly visible to viewers. The scale of the drawings, the figures within them, composition, and point of view place the audience in unexpected and sometimes overwhelming spaces, enabling the resonant experiences from which the drawings are inspired to achieve a similar resonance with viewers.
What is unique about your process and how does this define your practice?
I think two aspects of my work that are unique are the large scale at which I work and the fact that I generally strive to draw from imagination and memory. I prepare ideas by sketching studies from observation and photographs, but I adapt source material to what a composition requires, filling in the gaps of information through invention. This process is made more challenging by working on a large scale. These two aspects of my process keep me interested in drawing and coming back to the studio.
What influences your work or your creative process?
My desire to draw from my imagination is influenced by my interest in graphic novels and my idealized mental image of the way comic book artists invent all aspects of their figures and environments. Dividing images up into multiple sections and suggesting the passage of time between them is also something I take from graphic novels as well as from other artists. Most of the imagery I work with comes from my personal experiences living with my family in the United States every fall, winter, and spring and living in Japan during the summer months.
What lessons have you learned from other artists?
Robert Birmelin divides continuous spaces or environments into sections and by varying the action taking place between each section he suggests the passage of time. Varying point of view and focusing on composition is something I’ve taken from Degas’ work as well as comics. The faculty of the figurative track at California State University, Long Beach emphasized composition and the figure in space when I worked on my MFA from 2006 to 2008.
Christopher Troutman (Beaumont, TX), 2014