Take a few moments to explore this site and you’ll find an abundance of color, a variety of styles, and a refreshing array of personal connections to the world (the natural world around us, the one we create for ourselves every day, and the one we carry inside).
Each artist who appears on Other Cool Birds is someone I’ve sought out, someone whose work has resonated with me for any number of reasons. The paintings of artists like Tracy Verdugo, Amy Ringholz, Karen Walker is full of vibrant color; the illustrations of Molly Idle and Frank Morrison and Chris Beatrice reveal playful stories; the paintings of Peter van Straten and Kevin Sloan are rich and allegorical; the mixed media work by Sandy Spencer Coomer, Sarah Coleman, and Vanessa Roeder are rich in texture and layers and, somehow, tenderness.
There are similarities in the works of Joan Charles and Greg Marthas and quite a few differences, as with each of the artists found on this website, but one truth remains constant some essential part of their work speaks to some deep-down part of me.
The same is true of the work of Adam S Doyle, whose paintings convey a sense of peacefulness and fluidity – a result I suppose from the slow curve of the evident brush strokes and the color choices he makes.
There’s a sense of motion, of movement, but also of some source of energy swirling through each animal or person Adam creates with his paints, a life force that makes me feel connected on some basic primal level. When I first encountered his technique of leaving visible brushstrokes in his paintings it seemed a bit unusual and, at the same time, just right.
Read his responses below to a few questions I recently shared, and you’ll probably understand why. If not, spend some time with his paintings and I imagine you’ll feel something as well.
A little Q&A with vial artist Adam S Doyle who has a degree from Rhode Island School of Design and a masters at School of Visual Arts:
Other Cool Birds – Young Adult author, Jacqueline Woodson says that writers tend to focus on the time in our lives we’re still working through. Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim as it relates to visual artists (or to your work)? If so, how?
Adam Doyle – That’s an interesting statement about the creative impulse. First off I would say that everyone has had positive and negative experiences growing up that leave an impression and would manifest in one form or another for those who express themselves creatively. There’s an edge to that quote which probably resonates with some more than others. One thing that might be said I am “working through,” which I would phrase as an “ongoing exploration” comes out of the discipline of acupuncture. For the past 45 plus years my father has been a practicing acupuncturist/physician out of his office in Newton, MA. The concept that the energy within our bodies can be directed to heal ourselves is profound. I grew up being treated through occasion colds or injuries that way and it worked, even during the years when I was convinced it was all placebo. If you’ve seen my work you’re aware of the presence of the swirling forms within the animals and figures. That’s where it comes from. It wasn’t on purpose either. I only realized what was going on after I’d been doing it for a little while. Art is a great place to wrestle with experiences, as stated above, or the ongoing questions we live with.
OCB – What are you painting/creating art for (as in, what’s the deep down driving force behind your choice to paint in the first place)?
ADAM – Fundamentally it’s a way to connect, with both myself and with others.
When I was a kid I discovered that people responded to the images I made. Kids asked me to draw on their notebooks. My parents asked me to draw something to give as a gift. This person-to-person contact is right there at the heart of every book cover, painting, print, and card I make. The one-to-one experience. From there the larger aspiration is to make images that contribute to and participate in the cultural conversation. That is when art becomes Art. When images resonate with the life We are living and touching what We are feeling in this city and around the world.
This may be hard to believe or maybe I’m completely full of it, but I’m most motivated by themes larger than myself.
The paintings can look like Adam S Doyle paintings, but the drive isn’t I want to do Adam S Doyle work. The real motivation comes from identifying with the human mark, energy, nature, and if I’m working on a story, capturing what the narrative is really about. The stuff that’s really inspiring, that I get into and I know others do too, is stuff which means something to living right now – looking backwards, looking forwards, and recognizing all that’s pivoting on this moment.
OCD – What is it about the process that you like most? Least?
ADAM -There are three main stages to a piece; the conception, the execution, and the reception. They’re all gratifying in their own way. As you can imagine they all also have their frustrating pitfalls as well, which ends up making that part of the process the least likable.
I’ll focus on the good parts.
I’m an avid reader which is why I end up spending a lot of time working on book covers. I like the problem solving that comes with making an image based on a set story. I always request from publishers a copy of the manuscript to work from. You’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen, usually because the story is still being written. If I’m able to read the manuscript I’ll spend weeks and dozens upon dozens of sketches trying to orchestrate an image that captures the stories’ tone, its events, and what makes the characters tick. I really enjoy this part of the process.
The act of painting is also a one-of-a-kind experience.
It’s like being on stage; it’s a performance, a dance with the paint. Sometimes it comes alive. Sometimes it doesn’t want to get out of bed. Putting paint down is all about being in the moment.
Once the piece is finished and I turn it in to the art director, or in the case of a gallery show, get the paintings up on the walls, it’s all about how the work is received. Hearing that the publisher is happy with it, that readers love it, that patrons of the gallery can’t wait to have it in their homes, that is amazingly gratifying.
The recognition is the equivalent of being truly seen. When the work goes over well it’s deeply fulfilling.
OCB – What is your relationship with color?
ADAM – Color is weird to talk about. For the rest of the world color just is. There’s a rainbow and colors are great and go where they should. But when making an image, as students in painting class know, it can be a beast. So much can go wrong. I’d say I have a cautious respect for color. I often go monochromatic, which comes from the way I’m trying to go between outer and inner worlds seamlessly. The balance between a main color with an accent is a good way to have a piece pop. I will rarely if ever use more than a few colors in a piece. As you can tell I’m not interested in capturing reality the way our eyes see or a camera does. I want to make paintings that aren’t real, but feel true. Being sensitive to color dynamics, color relationships and viewer’s associations with color is something I’m always trying to be better at.
OCB – What is one thing about art (or painting) you think people might not understand?
ADAM – Perhaps that the distinctive, confident stroke of paint that captures the birds body isn’t about showing off my skill. Of course I appreciate a round of applause as much as anyone. But the truth is, the reason for that elegant marks isn’t about me – it’s about the excitement I feel for the magic of paint itself.
It’s about the legacy of the human mark. That is to say, since painting on cave walls, the pictures show us who we were and therefore who we are.
The stroke of paint is a recognition of being alive. Painting to say “Look how cool I am” isn’t a motivation. Trying to be a part of the legacy of art is. Trying to participate in the ongoing conversation our culture is having is. There is so much happening in the art world. Everyone is dong their own thing. In many cases art has evaporated into the transcendental, defying the idea of art itself. I’ve latched on to what I can relate to, what I think is important, and what I believe gives people access to something uplifting. I can only hope that people enjoy my work. If they are receptive to the homaging at play, then all the better for the love of paint. All the better for appreciating our shared history.
OCB – Aside from your main website, are there any specific websites with your work that you’d like me to link back to?