A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: artist and designer Derek Overfield, who is currently based in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Derek Overfield studied fine arts and graphic design at Fairmont State University alongside his wife and fellow painter (and Minted artist!) Lauren Adams. Working with charcoal and pastel on paper, as well as latex and acrylic paint on canvas, his bold pieces focus on the human figure. Here, Derek discusses life as a working artist, including overcoming artist’s block and challenging himself to create at least one drawing a day.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Making and studying figurative art has always been a big part of my life. As a child I studied very closely the dynamic figures of comic book art, learning what I feel is the unique and expressive language of the body. That study of the figure continued into college where I was introduced to so many amazing examples of the human form in art history. This is also when I began to work from life models and from my own image. I set a goal as a student to complete a large-scale figure drawing every day, which I have stuck to as closely as possible since. I continue to be amazed at the potential of the figure in art.
Did you study art formally in school?
Yes, I have a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design from Fairmont State, where I studied with acclaimed painter Lynn Boggess and met my future wife (and also a Minted artist), Lauren Adams.
Where do you currently reside?
I live in a small town in West Virginia and have always been proud to call this state my home. It has remarkable beauty and my family’s roots here go back to the 1700s.
Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I work on at least one drawing a day. On top of that, I usually work on canvases or do the not-so-fun stuff of building our stretchers, stretching and priming canvas, etc. There’s always other work like photographing pieces, answering customer’s emails, updating my website, and social media.
What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I feel that art should come from a place of love. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel the artist should be moved by the subject matter first, before they can ever hope to move their audience.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Expressive, simple and bold, classic and modern.
What painting techniques have you been working with lately?
My works on paper could be characterized as a sustained gestural technique. They take elements from both classical drawing and expressive work. My works on canvas have a similar approach, and I’ve developed a technique of painting that feels very much like drawing.
Please tell us about your studio space.
We have converted part of our 1935 two-story house into a studio space. We’ve renovated two rooms into one studio space, large enough to accommodate both of our needs!
When did you begin painting?
I began painting in college, watercolor landscapes on location.
What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
On paper, charcoal and/or pastel. On canvas, latex and/or acrylic paint.
What is your creative process like?
I use my works on paper as a way of preparing for and experimenting with themes for my larger canvas works.
What are your favorite subject matters?
The human figure, usually in reference to a heroic or tragic theme.
Your work primarily focuses on the human form, almost always with the male figure. How did you arrive at this?
I’ve done figurative work of both genders, but the stylistic approach I’m currently employing has a very masculine feel to it. I feel it works best with the male figure at the moment.
Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
That’s a great question. So many movements have embraced figurative art, so they usually always speak to me. I would say that the most essential would be the late classical period of Greece/Rome and the High Renaissance of Italy, with their humanistic focus on the figure as the epitome of artistic expression. I respond to non-figurative work as well, and really admire the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Their embrace of the artist’s personal touch and view of art-making as an event, very much influences my approach to art.
If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Couldn’t pass up the chance to witness Michelangelo at work, or anywhere, really. I don’t think I’d have the guts to speak to him though!
Click through to read more about Minted artist Derek Overfield and his work…
A great artist gets inspiration from anywhere—what are some of the most unusual sources of inspiration for you?
What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I have a digital camera that I use to capture the model moving between various poses. I find that stopping the video allows me to reveal poses too natural to arrive at consciously.
What was the best recent conversation you’ve had?
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation recently with a friend, who happens to be a physical trainer, about the complexities and potential of the human body. It’s really interesting to be of two differing fields, but have the same reverence and fascination for what our bodies are capable of.
Please describe your last month in a word. Busy!
What are you working on now?
Daily figurative work on paper and my ongoing series of figures on canvas.
Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I would like to release work later in the year in honor of the ancient Olympians—the Olympics are right around the corner!
What are you serious about? Well, to put it frankly, art!
What are some keys to balancing work and life?
That’s a tough balance and I’m sure many of my fellow artists struggle with that dynamic. I’m very fortunate that my wife is also an artist, so there is a built-in understanding of each other’s goals, struggles, and rewards. We help and support each other in everything we do.
How did you first hear about Minted?
I was contacted by Caroline Jung at Minted in 2014 (Ed. note: Caroline is Minted’s Associate Art Merchandise Manager). She urged me to compete in my first Domino challenge.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I hope it’s not terribly self-serving to say, being able to reach out to Minted’s incredibly far-ranging and art-loving community.
What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
To be a part of a community of hard-working, art-loving professionals.
How do you approach your art?
From a place of discipline, but also of flexibility, allowing accident and chance to take hold. Being loose and bold gives the figure a life of its own, something I feel it deserves and needs.
What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Reacquaint myself with what inspires me. This takes time of course, and involves a bit of chance that is intriguing, as you never know what might speak to you.
How has your work changed over time?
With figurative work, you’re always looking to sharpen your eye–to be more sensitive to proportion and movement. I’ve strived to improve those aspects, but also achieve them with increasing boldness, simplicity and honesty.
What are some responses you’ve received to your work?
I’ve been told my work feels both ancient and modern, much to my joy!
What advice would you give other artists?
Discipline has value, be strict and push yourself.
Derek’s Favorite Things
We asked Derek to share her current favorite cultural and art inspirations.
Who inspires you: My wife.
Favorite recent discovery: That there’s a place called Svalbard, and it’s the northernmost year-round inhabited part of the world.
Favorite place in the world: There was a place at my childhood home: a deep pool in our creek, surrounded by the steep hills overhung with trees, with a sandy, rocky bank, and the murmur of the creek where I would spend time thinking and taking my German Shepherd for a swim.
Favorite charity: The Humane Society
Favorite movie: I don’t know as an adult, but as a kid I watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie over and over…
Favorite city: New York, I love visiting art museums.
Favorite Instagrammer: @Boggess_Fine_Art, the Instagram account of Lynn Boggess, the professor from Fairmont State that I mentioned earlier. His account chronicles his plein air landscape work, in all manner of weather and conditions.
Favorite pieces of art in your home: I have a painting that my mother painted before I was born of a building and pine trees. It’s probably the only painting she ever made, but I see so much potential there. I’ve always loved that painting, for its heavy contrast and simplicity.
Pets: We have two cats that couldn’t be more different from each other! We love them both, and their individuality never ceases to amazes us!
Favorite snack: Cheese!
What’s in your Netflix queue: Lauren and I love to re-watch episodes of The Office.
Favorite artist: Michelangelo
Favorite works of art: Figurative sculpture
Favorite charcoals: General’s compressed charcoal
Favorite paints: Much of the time I use Krylon latex paint (from the hardware department) but I also use Winsor & Newton acrylics as well.
Favorite brushes: Hardware store brushes
Photos: Courtesy of Derek OverfieldComments Off on Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield