Hello friends! I have a real treat for all of you today! And that is featured artist, Dean Crouser! I first ran across Dean’s work on Pinterest, and I instantly fell in love. Dean has a unique way of using colors in his watercolor paintings that are unlike anything I’ve seen. He can take your average black bear, and paint him in rainbow hues, all the while keeping a subtlety to the piece. You will love his work! And you will also love that I’ve gotten an interview from him! We’ll hit it with the questions, then move on to some examples of his work. Enjoy!
1. Tell us a little about your background. [where you’re from, how you got started, how you got to where you are today, etc.]
I am a native Oregonian and grew up in Gresham, which is about 10 miles east of Portland. I have enjoyed drawing and painting my entire life and I got into watercolors at age 10 when my parents bought me a ‘real’ set of watercolor paints that came in tubes, not hard pans. I became very involved in sports during high school where I competed in track and field. I went on to compete for the University of Oregon where I won three NCAA championships in the discus and shot put. These were years when I got away from the art a bit, but fell right back into it when the sports were done. I am self taught and have never taken a class.
My wife Molly and I have two kids, Sam and Haley age 20 and 17. As they were growing up I obviously needed to make a living (real estate), but it was always my goal to be painting professionally by the time I was 50. Well, I’m 52 now and have been painting full time for 5 years so I made it!
2. When you’re not creating, how do you fill your days?
I have a lot of hobbies with golf, and fishing being my favorites, but the majority of my spare time is spent coaching the throwing events (shot put, discus and javelin) in track and field. Sam and Haley both competed in the recent U.S. Olympic Trials in the javelin where Sam took 2nd place as a college freshman and Haley was 7th as just a high school junior. Both hold the U.S. high school records for boys and girls javelin. It has been quite a ride! Sam competes for the University of Oregon and Haley will decide soon where she wants to attend college.
3. Chocolate or vanilla?
4. What keeps you inspired to continue to create?
Creating is just the most natural thing in the world to me. Through the years I have dabbled with woodworking, leather tooling, ceramics, wood carving, etc. The inspiration is just something deep inside your soul, I think. There is nothing more rewarding than making something beautiful grow from simple items, whether it be paint and paper, wood, whatever. I know this is what I was intended to do and feel so grateful that I have been able to make it the focus of my life’s work.
5. Where is your favorite place to travel? [vacation, or on a daily basis]
I love to travel to the high lakes of Central Oregon where my family has been vacationing for 20 years. It is usually about 10 days spent with my wife and kids, staying in a lakeside log cabin with no T.V., cell phones or newspaper. Fishing, hiking, painting and doing nothing. Unplugged. There is nothing better.
6. Do you have a designated studio? If so, what is your favorite part of it?
I do have a designated studio. I converted our existing garage into my studio and then added on a new garage to the house. It is about 20 x 20/400 square feet with two large drawing and painting tables, and all of my stuff for printing, mat cutting, framing, etc. It is carpeted, warm, and a great place to work. I have decorated the walls with all types of memorabilia, art, old fishing tackle, etc. It’s a great place to work.
7. What is your number one cure for artist’s block?
I think that artist’s block is simply a time when it’s best not to paint. A lot of people try to force it and work through these times, but I have found it is best to simply step away from the easel and let things be. For me there is a time to paint and a time not to paint. I can absolutely feel it when I know the creative juices are flowing and it’s time to work. During these times I might paint three or four paintings and have ideas for several others. It comes in waves. And literally every time I have stepped away from painting (when I do a lot of art shows it might be a whole month without painting) I always come back fresh and a better artist. I don’t want to ‘just make stuff’ any more. I want my work to be good. I’m my own toughest critic and if I am not pleased with something it won’t go out the door. My standards are higher now.
8. If you had to describe your creative style in three words — which three would you choose?
Wow, three words. That’s tough. ‘Loose’. ‘Colorful’. ‘Unique’. I want my work to be fun and exciting and something people haven’t seen a million times before.
9. Where do you see yourself in seven years?
I would hope that in seven years I am doing just what I am doing now – painting. I do hope that I will be a better artist down the road because I honestly strive to make each painting better than the last one. I want to get better. I feel that having the opportunity to paint is a gift and I want to make the most of it and will never take this for granted.
10. Do you have any exciting upcoming projects that you can or want to share with us?
Last year the Patagonia clothing company commissioned me to do two fish paintings for them for hats and t-shirts in their worldwide catalog. They just contacted me last week for two more so that is very exciting. I have also licensed some of my work to a company that specializes in wildlife art and that will come out in fall 2012. Best of all, we leave in three weeks for our yearly family vacation!
Alright! So now that we know a little bit more about Dean, let’s check out some of his work.
What do you guys think? How awesome are these paintings? Such a talent Dean has to be able to see the colors in these animals! I love it! I’m definitely a huge fan of his work, and it is only a matter of time before I break down and buy that elephant to have in my life. Somewhere. I just don’t know where yet. I hope you guys have enjoyed his work as much as I have.