Michael Dotson

Michael Dotson Interview - By Steven Cox

The work of Michael Dotson has been of interest for a number of years, the technical skills within his work, such as This Used To Make Sense and Out To Dry (both 2012) show an awareness to the many popularized traits of contemporary painting, combining a variety of painterly styles, techniques and processes that recall the Leipzig School with a contemporary abstract edge.

Can you tell HUNTED PROJECTS about yourself and creative background?

MD: I am a painter working in Brooklyn NY.  I am originally from Cleveland Ohio, and went to art school there.  I also went to grad school in Washington DC.

When did your interest within the arts begin?

MD: I was drawing ever since I can remember.  My mother is a toy designer and was attending art school when I was a young boy.  I definitely had access to a lot more art supplies than the average kid.  More importantly I was able to see that "real" people made art, and it wasn't some mystical thing, it was just some kids working really hard.

Can you discuss your daily process of working?

MD: Well I usually don't get home till like 6:30-7pm, and I eat quickly then take a nap till like 8.  After that I just paint till 2am, Fridays are my favorite night to paint, I might go to 3am or 4am.  But the main thing is just paint everyday as much as I can.  

Your earlier paintings appear reminiscent of computer-simulated environments, adopting psychedelic and cartoon like colour palettes and using forms similar to retro Sega computer games.  Though some of your more recent paintings seem more simplified, focusing on adopting multiple painting techniques to create painterly abstractions.  For instance, comparing Hot Mess (2011) or bright Lines Make Dark Shadows (2011) to Trampoline (2008), its evident that there has been a shift or change within your approach to your work.  Would you like to discuss how your practice has developed and changed over the years and what is becoming most important to you within your work?

MD: I think I have just been paying a lot more attention to the surfaces.  You might notice that the paintings have moved from "outdoor" scenes to interiors.  With interiors the space is always going to be much more shallow, because there is a limit.  This shallowness of depth allows me to focus more on the surfaces within the paintings and create pictures that are seemingly more abstract.

Some of the titles of your less recent paintings reference dream houses or dream cars, for instance, Dream House interior (2010), Dream House #3 (2009), Dream House #2 (2008), Dream House #1 (2006), and Dream Car Celebration at Tyrell Corporation (2009). These paintings are very fantastical, can you discuss these titles and discuss your fascination with imaginary and surreal interiors?

MD: A painting is like a dream.  It can seem very real, but there is always something off, something strange.  These paintings are of things that are inaccessible, which is how the space of a painting really is. 

You posted a video on YouTube a few years back documenting the making of Side by Side (2009), it is a great video giving a thorough insight to your process of working.  At the moment I am particularly interested in how artists document and also publicly expose their personal tricks of the trade, what are your thoughts on the documentary exposing such personal processes?

MD: Well I think that video was helpful for showing people that the paintings were actually paintings.  I don't feel like anything i do is particularly difficult, it just requires an incredible amount of patience.  I think you should be able to learn how to do everything on YouTube. 

Can you tell us about some of your influences and inspirations?

MD: I think just being exposed to art from an early age was a big influence on me.  Also the Internet provides all the inspiration you can ever want, I see so much good stuff everyday, and I just want to make stuff to add to that.

What are you working towards at the moment?  Do you have many exhibitions lined up for the near future?

MD: Right now I am working on a black and white drawing, which is kinda weird for me.  It's for this show "Black Foliage" in July that my friend Matthew Craven is putting together.  Other than that I will have a few shows in the fall in LA, Dallas, and Cleveland.  Just staying busy, doing my thing.