Morgan Dyer

Interviewed in March of 2016 by Andrew Houle

MORGAN DYER

Hometown: Jaffrey, NH    |   Current town: Beverly, MA    |   Website: CLICK HERE

 

1. Hey there Morgan, we like to start these off with a little background about each artist. Can you tell our readers a bit about your surroundings where you grew up and how that impacted your direction as an artist?

Hi! I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, Jaffrey. Most people know about it because of it’s most famous landmark Mount Monadnock. It’s a great mountain and has certainly given to a lot of subject matter in my work…but there are a lot of other things in that town that impacted my direction as an artist. My father and brother both fostered the New Hampshire lifestyle and so I spent most of my childhood in the woods and spending weekends in fishing and game shops where I would curiously memorize every isle of fascinating equipment. During hunting season, I’d help my dad distribute meat from the deer he just brought home. My brother would make me gut his fish so I could get a ride to see my friends— that was always fun.

I think all of these little things made me somewhat of a nature woman at heart. Instead of investing in the actual “game” of it all, I took more notice of the little things that I loved exploring; shiny fishing lures, how to stuff a dead animal, the endless amounts of plants and mountains to roam.

 

2. The colors of New England resonate throughout your work. The seasons are documented and celebrated with such a subtle palette that the viewer can really find a connection to nature within each painting. How important are the colors and corresponding seasons to your creative process?

My main color palette isn’t always driven by the season itself.. its more of a memory and nostalgia, driven by emotion. In which case the color is super important. Most often my landscapes are how I make sense of memory— using colors to help bring me back to that place. 

Currently, I am working on more memories of living in Beverly. I’ve been here long enough to journal experiences. Mostly driven by the movement of water rather than the land, which is driven by my New Hampshire upbringing.

 

3. While the composition and subject matter are immediate and equally important aspects of painting, is it safe to say the color is first for you? Is the direction of your palette and families of color a starting point for you?

Yes. More often than not the composition is worked out on the canvas as I’m working—getting the colors down both initially and throughout the way is my first interest… I use these colors as a journal to a memory or experience I had…maybe even a cluster of colors I saw as I was driving around. The color is always first.

 

4. With nature as such a central theme in your work; the shapes, lines, and forms of your surroundings become the initial guide for you. Never the man-made forms, but the mountains, hills, ocean, clouds and sunlight. Every day brings a new combination of color and shape, does that leave you with a sense of raw, limitless opportunity to draw from? Every season, location or even time of day presents you with something different from the last. 

The world is such an overwhelming place, isn’t it? I do take most things in, even if it is man-made— sometimes architecture and landmarks can have really cool properties to remember. The past couple of years I have taken in a lot of limitless information to choose from but I usually give myself specific series and projects to work on so I can somewhat organize all of the jumbled information in my head. For example, I went to California last June, and I used every day as a new way to capture images, paint watercolors, and journal my experiences to then create a painting series based off of that trip. In the future months, I plan on doing weekend road trip excursions to unexplored areas and basing a series off of those. 

 

5. Okay, oil vs. acrylic? What medium do you prefer and why? 

I paint with acrylics. Not because I prefer it, it’s just what is easiest right now. It’s cheaper than oils and doesn’t require much ventilation. They’re always coming out with new and hip mediums, so I think that’s fun to mess around with but painting in oils will be a revolutionary day for me. 

 

6. While at first glance, the title “abstract painter” can quickly be applied to your work as everything and everyone needs to fit neatly into a category, but you’re also a super sneaky illustrator. You have a passion for sketching with graphite, pen & ink, and watercolor. Your illustrations of floral arrangements and maritime have translated into greeting cards, small prints, Christmas ornaments and home décor. Throwing out categories and labels, as an artist do you find yourself just creating a nice balance between all the work? It’s never about just making one kind of thing right? 

I’ve struggled the past couple of years with the separation between disciplines. At the end of the day, I have an eager desire to create. Both my painting and illustrations are deep-seated but require separate thinking. My illustrations come from a place of mark making, dabbling with my drawing skills and eagerness to make pretty little things to keep my hand moving. Why not do something with that? So I make some prints and cards to share with people during the holiday season. I hibernate in the off months where I use that part of the year getting larger painting ideas down on the canvas and prepping for any shows that I may or may not have. I have yet to find a steady balance with the two, especially because both require a lot of attention and…. I need to sleep sometimes. But in all fairness there should be no labels… all artists know that saying you are an “artist” means you do a lot more than what you might be known for on paper… we are all creators. 

 

7. Staying on the topic of multi-faceted aspects of an artist; you split time exhibiting professionally in galleries and also setting up at various pop-up events & craft fairs. Both avenues for displaying work are wildly different and have their own set of risks and rewards. Do you prefer one or the other? 

I prefer exhibiting in galleries. It’s overwhelming and scary getting a reaction of paintings which you’ve poured yourself into. Craft fairs haven’t yet formed a steady routine in my life and involves a lot more tedious business thinking… It’s not AS exhilarating. 

 

8. Working in the studio; silence is golden or always have music on?

Lots of podcasts and lots of music. If silence is what I need, silence it is. 

 

9. Underrated or overrated; Ryan Adams – 1989. Go. 

Anyone that knows me (and reads this) can predict my answer: Underrated. 

 

10. While attending Montserrat College of Art you were lucky enough to have a senior internship with another successful artist, who would quickly become a mentor to you and dear friend. Let’s not give Alyssa Waters too much credit here (think she’ll even read this?)… but how important is it to find and cultivate relationships and support with like-minded artists?

Ha ha, Alyssa has indeed become a dear friend and a cream soda companion. You didn’t mention how clone-like we really are, but I’ve been insanely lucky. She’s a great example of how important it is to surround yourself with people who care and foster the same things as a creator. It helps being connected with friends like that because more opportunities arise just from being present and visible. 

 

11. One thing we always love to ask our featured artists about is, who do they think our readers should be on the lookout for? Who you got that you think people should know about? Anything goes; musician, painter, poet, sculptor?

Kendrick Lamar: untitled 02 | 06.23.2014. And Rihanna.