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Awesome Psychedelic Oil Painter Inspired by Psytrance and Nature!

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This is one of the most incredible artistic styles I have ever come across. The brilliance of exotic interpretation from seasonal landscapes and the expressionism from the depths of the artists twisted imagination is splattered with every single oily brushstroke to form a colorful and phenomenal universe. Every detail is immense, crafting images unseen. Its an explosion of intensified euphoria, paying attention to the strangeness of curling fungus and glowing ice, the sky scraping colors of galaxy clusters crashing into eachother over the horizon, and the bewilderment of lights scattered amongst darkened mystery gardens. I am in love.
I just interviewed one of my favorite abstract artists, James McCarthy! He is quite the phenomenal painter, expressing his perspectives isolated during the seasons. He supports the musical community, diving deep into it for further inspiration Check out his incredibly detailed oil paintings here and read the interview below.
Q::: After noticing your abstract point of view on seasonal landscapes, my first question would definitely revolve around why you picked up a paintbrush to begin with. When did this vision to start painting begin for you?
A::: I've always liked to draw (my father was an artist, too) and I guess I was pretty good at it. I was a painting major in college but I had no real direction at the time. Also, the fact that surreal and fantasy art which I always liked was generally looked down on by most of my art professors didn't help.
They did like my spontaneous drawings of organic shapes (in surrealism this is known as 'biomorphism'). In painting I went from photo-realism to abstraction. I left college to work for my dad at his commercial art studio. I didn't paint for 15 years.
Eventually, in 1998 work became slow. The ad agencies we were doing hand-drawn artwork for began using computers instead. I began to work on biomorphic colored pencil drawings and paintings. They weren't just simply organic forms by themselves but were now incorporated into landscapes.
I miss the seasons from my early childhood in Michigan (especially Winter) so I made them seasonal, as well. I no longer cared what my old art professors thought about surreal/fantasy landscape art. It's what I wanted to do now.
Q:::Yes, sometime it is very difficult to make a living off such a unique talent. When things got tough, what did you do to keep your passions?
A:::Well, things are still tough. I live with my mother and brother. In 2004 I had throat cancer and shortly after I completed my chemo and radiation, my father got colon cancer. I survived but he didn't. We have no car anymore. My sister and friends drive us around. We make just enough money to get by.
However, we live in a nice house in a great neighborhood. There are fields with goats and horses. There's a small woods and several drainage areas that inspire some of the landscapes in my paintings. There are hawks, owls and peacocks roam the streets which wander over from the 'Brandon Aquatic and Sports Center' nearby.
More importantly, I'm getting more recognition now. I've sold eight paintings in the last three months. I've been selling them pretty cheap because we need the money but I think I have good reason to be optimistic about the future.
Q:::It amazes me how artists such as yourself seemingly vanish from discovery. I am very happy to see your getting well deserved recognition! In my opinion, you should never stop. In this world you live in, what causes you to paint and express?
A:::I'm introspective but not withdrawn. I think about my childhood and the past frequently but I don't dwell in it. I use it for inspiration instead. Music helps a lot, too. I try to keep the same sense of looking at the world with new eyes that came so naturally to us in our more impressionable youth. You have to be a nonconformist. There are relatives of mine who would rather see me give up painting and get a regular job- doing what, I have no idea. Since I've found my direction and my artistic niche, my painting is the one thing in life I never tire of. I can't imagine doing anything else anymore.
Q:::The purity of open minded perspectives is extremely important, similar to that of a child exploring the world for new horizons. Its beautiful, and I can certainly see your outlook on the world frozen in time on your creations. Your exotic expressions mean more that I can put into words. How would you explain them?
A:::It's a merging, I would say. As I child I was very introverted. I liked to escape. I watched a lot of TV. Besides cartoons and comedies I especially liked fantasy and science fiction. I still do. After my family moved to Florida I began to miss the seasons- especially the serene melancholy of Winter. I missed its weird beauty and quiet stillness. It was cold and somewhat barren at times but so simplified when everything is covered in snow. I missed the Autumn colors, too. So I had a fascination with fantasy and science fiction but at the same time I had a nostalgic fascination with the seasons based on my own personal experiences.
This has carried over into my adulthood. My paintings are about the seasons and its affect on the landscape but looked at from a childlike fantasy/sci-fi perspective. It's also a merging between my past and present. As I mentioned before, many of my landscapes (especially the Fall and Winter scenes) are influenced by childhood memories of Michigan but my landscapes are also influenced by places in and around my neighborhood here in Florida right now.
Q:::I see you enjoy engulfing others into these strange worlds as you did during your childhood. I notice the intricacy of your oil paintings expresses many isolated, exotic, and unseen lands. How would you personally describe them?
A:::Some are more serious and some are more whimsical. Some are fairly subtle and plausible landscapes that could actually exist in this world. Others are completely surreal in the true sense of the word. These are the completely spontaneous paintings. I'm working on one right now. Normally I have a landscape in mind and I look at photos which would accommodate that particular landscape. I leave certain areas open for my spontaneous organic shapes. Others are completely laid out ahead of time.
Some are meant to be nostalgic. Others eerie or slightly disturbing and dreamlike. Others are how I wish the world could be or you could say, 'Heaven' basically. Others are different dimensions or strange lands that may exist on another planet and/or other dimension. Overall, I do like to have some kind of idea or theme in each painting. Frequently this involves the passing of time represented by the seasons. Life, death and creation- creation in general and artistic creation.
Q:::As you said, you draw very real things and mix them into very surreal things. These things, beautifully enough, look as if they are real on another plane of existence. That being said, how would you say you come up with these strange biomorphs, intense spiraling space towers, and uniquely stylized abstract figures?
A:::As I mentioned, I began drawing spontaneous biomorphic shapes back in college. It was like doodling but not entirely mindless. You do actually look at what you're drawing. It's strictly an intuitive thing. Sometimes it flows out of me, other times I have to stop and stare at it awhile before continuing.
Over time I became conscious of all sorts of interesting organic forms: fungus, various weird multicolored deep sea creatures and the strange and almost anthropomorphicshapes that kudzu vines as well as cosmic nebulae make.
Even back in college, decades ago, I would look at certain photos while squinting my eyes and turn the image around and upside down, noticing the interesting abstract but still organic shapes that would emerge. I use images like that separately or morphed together with other organic forms to create newer biomorphic shapes. I may make one single image out of phosphorescent fungus , a bit of nebulae, part of a jellyfish and combined with some 'doodling'. Still, it's interesting to step back from photos from time to time and be completely spontaneous when I can. I feel like I'm 'creating' more when I do that.
And that concludes the interview! Finally, here are a few of his oil paintings... I hope you enjoy them. Send him your regards.






FUN FACT: James McCarthy did album art work for Through the Afterlife! Here is an unreleased full version below:


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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been following this extraordinary artist on deviantart for quite some time; the believability of such fantastical and alien landscapes are a testament to his vivid imagination and inspirational painting skills. Thanks for conducting this interview into an artist I admire and didn't know much about!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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