Painter Eric Wert has forever been fascinated with the complex patterns within nature. His background in scientific illustration lends to a new and powerful style of still-life painting – one that makes his fascination truly infectious. We caught up Eric for some insight into his incredible, hyperrealistic artworks.
When did your creative life begin?
Originally I wanted to be a scientific illustrator as a way to combine my interests in art and natural science. After doing this professionally for a few years, I realized that my interest in observation is not exactly scientific.
I became interested in how a subject can begin to take on many associations and become more mysterious and unknowable upon close observation. This approach is, I suppose, more poetic than scientific.
What draws you to still life painting?
I am drawn to complex natural rhythms and patterns and especially enjoy the challenges involved in representing them. I find these patterns and complex structures invite the viewer to become absorbed in the painting.
I am trying to make work that will invite you to look closely and explore it intimately again and again over time.
Your still life paintings are quite different to what audiences might be used to. Is there a message behind this?
With my paintings I strive to provide an active rather than a passive experience. Upended subjects, intricate background fabrics and destroyed reflections are intended to contribute dynamism and complexity: to create a space in which the eye is never still, and where everything is worthy of inspection.
While they do exhibit components of traditional still life, the subjects are often rent asunder. They are vanities paintings about the transitory nature of life, wealth, relationships and understanding.
Is there an overarching feeling you hope to inspire within your audience?
I’m most interested in conveying fascination. I strive to make my compositions rich enough to invite the viewer to return to the painting again and again to discover new elements and associations in it.
Could you walk us through the process of creating one of your pieces, from idea to realization?
Its hard to boil down months of work into a short answer, but my paintings are constructed through an indirect process, with color being built up slowly in layers over a black and white underpainting. This allows for very luminous color and the time to manipulate elements very carefully.
If you could go back in time to when you first began making art, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Buy stock in Amazon. As for painting advice… I received and ignore plenty of it from talented artists back then. Advice isn’t really useful until you’re ready to hear it.
See more of Eric’s work at www.werteric.com