Today on Examining The Creative Mind we have surrealist painter Silas B. Ritchie. He has an incredible imagination. I hope you enjoy getting to know him better. Please check out his gallery on Facebook at the end of this post to see more of his work.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you do?
My name is Silas Ritchie and I’m a 28 year old guy who was born with a degenerative Lung disease, Cystic Fibrosis I am currently waiting for a Double Lung Transplant. I’ve been an artist my whole life. I got an award in grade school in drawing, and another award in high school for etching. I did not continue on with my education with college. I picked up painting again a few years after I left high school and have been doing it casually ever since, until I stopped being able to work 3 years ago which has allowed me to focus entirely on my art. As well as painting, I am a musician/producer, video artist and poet.
What medium do you prefer to work in and why?
Currently, I paint mostly with acrylics. I have painted a good deal of watercolor paintings in the past with watercolors, because I like the natural feel that watercolors have. I may return to them at some point, but I find that my current vision requires a more bold medium. I prefer acrylic paints because I feel that you can be the most viscerally expressive with them, and I like the textures that you can get when you use thick paint. Acrylics are kind of like paint putty that I smear around on the canvas Sometimes I feel like I am sculpting an image with my paintbrush and not painting.
Where do you do your work? Can you describe your workspace?
There are two main locations I paint : My Living room surrounded by my paintings and stuff with strange music blaring out of my stereo speakers, and my austere hospital room with tinny sounding techno amplified from my crummy laptop speakers. The last few years I’ve been in the hospital about 2 weeks out of every 2 months receiving IV antibiotic treatments while I wait the transplant call to come. Painting is a good way to pass the time while I’m there.
Do you have a favorite artist? What attracts you to their work?
I like Marc Chagall’s work. His use of animals and bold colors have been a mild influence on my style. He also tends to have a wonky perspective going on in his work, which I enjoy. I also like that he incorporates goats into many of his paintings.
How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?
Strange Whimsical Color Movement
As an artist, is their anything specific that you hope to accomplish?
I just want people to see the art and be with the art. Through being present with the art, it would be nice if it influenced people to be present in other moments through out their life. This is why I sometimes go by Silas Be.
If there was a way to make art appreciated more by the mainstream in a non-commercial fashion that would be ideal. Perhaps to have government subsidies for artists like they have in Australia would be cool. That’s what happens when a society values art as much as they value other types of innovation. I don’t think I’d be able to accomplish that as an artist, I’d have to become a politician.
As an artist, how do you define success?
I’ve always enjoyed creating art for the sake of it. It’s been a recent experience for me to have people pay me for my art. It’s refreshing to know people enjoy the art enough to pay for it and motivating for me to continue being prolific. It’s also challenging because i don’t want money to be the source of creative inspiration. I would consider success as an artist to be a long term interest in my art from the world community. If people continue to want to experience and share my art, and even own the art I’m creating, I would consider that success. I feel like I am succeeding now, in that respect.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice?
When I am getting ready to paint I brew up a pot of green tea pick out a playlist of music, usually something fast paced or abstract depending on my mood ie; Four Tet, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Mulatu Astatke, Kimbra, Caribou, Heiroglyphic Being. I listen to a lot of free jazz, world, and electronic music while painting.
What are you hoping to communicate through your art?
I had my First Solo gallery show in January of 2012. I called the show SiRealism. The statement for the show best describes the nature of most my paintings.
“The world of SiRealism weaves itself between the real and the imagined. The landscapes are alien yet somehow familiar. Human civilization is present, but humanity is not. The animals are real but out of place. Though I don’t put people in my paintings, I use animal symbolism as a way of putting a human finger print on the work. I paint with acrylics to put more focus on texture and color, using realistic images in a surreal context. There is an aloof cheerfulness whimsically imbued into the brush strokes, and also a manic darkness dormant in the shadows begging for further examination. I want the emotional impact of my work to hit you outright, while the intellectual subtext remains an undercurrent, not necessarily ever surfacing to the forefront of your understanding of the piece. I feel that a person’s interpretation of the art completes the artistic experience, so I want to leave room for your own conclusions.”
What does being creative mean to you?
To me, being creative is a way of living. I think it’s important to be creative even if you are not an artist. I think if you are true to your self and apply your personality and philosophy to all of your actions then you are creating the world around you, even if you aren’t making paintings or something like that.
How do you come up with ideas?
I don’t know where my ideas come from necessarily. From my mind I suppose, but maybe not. My experiences, philosophy, outlook on life. I tend to see the subject of the painting in my mind before I paint it. Sometimes I photoshop a scene together and work from that image when I get to the canvas.
Do you approach your work within a framework of rules or moral code?
I create because I must. I don’t have any other visceral desires, except maybe to be social. If I am not painting, I’m making music, I used to also be a chef and the experience of creating dishes for people to enjoy on the daily was extremely satisfying for me. I like creating for people. That is how I give of myself to this world. That’s what I have to offer. It’s my way to contribute.
What is the most important idea, belief, or dilemma you hope to address through your work? Is there a theme at the core of the work you do?
One of the major threads that persists through a lot of my work is humor. I don’t paint “funny paintings,” but I do like my art to make you feel like maybe you shouldn’t take things so seriously, whether it’s by using bright colors, or by putting animals in strange situations, or by just painting a scene with a wonky perspective, I want you to be taken outside your notions of what you are looking at and look at it with a more relaxed perspective.
Silas Be has an album with his paintings on Facebook: Facebook Gallery
If you are interested in purchasing his work or would like to ask him some questions you can contact him through Facebook or by emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org