John Livengood . . . Unleashed

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The Backstory: Going back to college, I've always been interested in working from photos. In college, my work stemmed from news photographs and the accompanying news stories. Originally, I was drawn to screen printing, but for a variety of reasons I felt I could better achieve what I was after with the expressiveness of painting. Most recently I've been painting with oil stick and not using a brush—just applying layer upon layer of paint and then painting and blending with my fingertips—I intentionally lose a lot of detail along the way. While it's similar to rerecording something too many times, in the case of my paintings I think the loss of detail makes them seem more true to the subject. My early work was probably most influenced by Larry Rivers. More recently, I've been really intrigued with Chuck Close and his ability to work in the abstract up close, but in a way that becomes a cohesive whole when you pull back. I also love Shepard Fairey's work. The advertising business can be really insular and self-referential, so I think it's really important to find something apart from the business that renews you creatively. One of the cool things that has come from sharing my art with people at work is to see how many people have outside creative expressions that they have a renewed energy to pursue—everything from photography to music to acting to writing fiction. For any of us in this creative business, it's good to have an outlet beyond the advertising work we produce. I think it gives you a better perspective.
The Art: "Fooled": I've always been fascinated by how people are portrayed in the news—especially those who have gone bad. I'm amused by what they say. In this case, Kenneth Lay was quoted as saying that he didn't think he was a fool for not knowing what was going on at Enron, but that he "sure was fooled." I want people to look at images they've probably become a bit numb to and consider again how ridiculous and feeble the people and their excuses really are.
"Dick": I like doing portraits of people I know. This is a friend of mine who works construction and farming in eastern Washington. He's seen a lot in his life, and all of those experiences seem to show on his face.
"Grace Likes Chocolate . . ."
"Grace Likes Chocolate. Owen Doesn't Like Chocolate": I've painted my kids a lot, and given their respective like/dislike of chocolate the cookie package background just seemed to work.
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