We met artist Andy Russell a few years ago at an art show and we were instantly mesmerized by the vibrant colors and intricate details of his paintings. When we decided to create our first holiday themed MOVA Globe, we immediately thought Andy was the right person for the job, commissioning him to make a winter village globe. The finished product, Home for the Holidays, is our first original piece in our MOVArt Collection. We spoke with Andy about his journey to becoming a professional artist, the challenges of making spherical art and the origins of his inspiration.
How did you get into painting and when did you realize you wanted to do it professionally?
I was always interested in art and was constantly doodling since I was a child. I had never taken art classes in school or had any formal training. I started to meditate as a way to relax and increase creativity. Much like writers, inventors, and musicians sometimes get ideas from dreams, I started to have vivid ones of heavenly places night after night. I was thrilled! I started to recall details of the beautiful landscapes and cities and the feeling of joy and well-being in each one.
I decided I was given these experiences to share them with others through art. I developed my skills and techniques over time. As I became more proficient, the frequency of the dreams decreased. It seemed that I had been given what I needed. Selling just about everything I created, I realized that it was possible for me to do this full time as an artist. In 1991 I quit my job of doing indoor sales of industrial electronic parts and became a professional artist.
What type of paint do you generally work with? Why do you prefer it over others?
I started with colored pencils, then pastels and finally settled on acrylic paints. I like acrylics because unlike oils, there are no odors. They also clean up with soap and water, and have proved to be very archival and durable. I also like the fact that they dry quickly so I can use my glazing technique of painting one transparent color over another. I use mostly MATISSE professional acrylics for their high pigmentation and the creamy texture of their low viscosity FLOW line.
Do you have a favorite art piece you’ve painted?
My favorite piece of art is usually the last one I did, although I like them all. I do have quite a few that I have painted over the years that are special to me though. They have captured the essence of my art in different ways. A small example would be Radio Days #10 (pictured below), Teal Lake, Hidden Harbor, and Illumination #22. I have created over 2,000 pieces of art so there are quite a few more that I can list.
Is the creative process any different when you have a design idea or when you are commissioned to draw something specific?
The creative process is different when doing a commissioned work. It has to fulfill the vision of whoever I am doing it for. I may have to paint a specific scene or subject matter, put in certain objects, make it a particular time of day, etc. If left on my own I would probably not challenge myself as much. Commissioned work gives me a chance to expand my “Extended Realism” style and to use it in many interesting ways.
What challenges did you face, if any, in creating a painting on a sphere, as was the case with the Home for the Holidays MOVA Globe?
Painting a globe is very challenging. When creating flat art you can see the entire piece as you work on it and make it all cohesive. A globe, on the other hand, hides at least half of the work at any given time. It takes a lot of hand spinning to see the flow and continuity of the piece. It has to work from different viewing angles whether you are standing or seated.
Not everything translates well to a globe shape either. As the globe spins it will look somewhat distorted at the edges because of the curvature, but it has to look correct when viewed straight on. Also, the current technology of scanning the globe for printing limits certain colors and their relationship to each. It is also difficult to scan high contrast works where there is dark against light. All of these things have to be considered but a good finished piece is very satisfying.
Your [MOVA International’s] vision for my art matches mine: to create a soothing, slowly turning scene that relaxes and almost mesmerizes, to take us away from the trials and tribulations of daily life and enter a state of relaxation and peace. This is important so we can all stay on the same page when creating our “dream” together.
To learn more about Andy Russell and see his full collection of artwork, visit his website www.andyrussell.com. If you’d like to see Home for the Holidays MOVA Globe in person, use our Find a Retailer feature to locate the store closest to you and contact them to see if they carry this model.
What do you think of the Home for the Holidays MOVA Globe? What other scenes or types of art would you like to see as part of the MOVArt Collection?