Henrik Uldalen is a Norwegian oil painter; whose work I discovered earlier last year (2013) and it blew my mind and I’ve kept an eye out for his stuff ever since. I decided recently to try and contact him and ask him to answer the questionnaire that I’ve made for realism artist’s to get his pro opinion.
He not only graciously responded and gave some fantastic insights, but he gave permission for a huge amount of his artworks to be displayed here on NoeyedDeer, you can find even more of his amazing work at http://henrikaau.com/
So without further ado here is Henrik Uldalen.
Thanks so very much for taking the time out of you schedule to do this I really appreciate it.
My first question to you is pretty straight forward: What is it that drove you to realism? And what keeps you doing what you do?
By all the different styles, realism has always appealed to me the most. It just speaks to me. It was never an option for me choosing any other style of art. Also, drawing and painting has been my main focus since I was a child. It was at some point the only thing I was remotely good at, so from the beginning the road was already laid out in front of me.
How do you go about developing your ideas for your pieces? Do you have a method for inspiration or is it more like “something pops into your head suddenly”?
It’s a little bit of both. Sometimes an idea can suddenly appear in the middle of a sleepless night. But most of times I need to go out and be proactive. Usually I take photos, trying to find interesting compositions. Also it usually helps having a photo shoot with a model to get the ideas running.
Is there someone else’s work that you can always return to for inspiration?
I actually have a bunch of artists that I turn to on a regular basis. All from old and living painters, photographers, sculptors, musicians and filmmakers. The inspiration can come from all places, and for me I usually need to look in different genres.
What are your thoughts on conceptual art and it’s value? What about the conceptual art process?
I can appreciate conceptual art as long as it’s fresh and offers something new. When a piece of art no longer works within aesthetics and craftsmanship but solely on ideas, then the idea should be very good. Unfortunately it’s rare that I find a good piece of conceptual art that captivates me. It might be that I’m too narrow minded, seeing as I’ve been working with realism and painting forever.
What are your thoughts on the production art industry? And the processes of having an army of artists working on a single project?
I’m not sure what you mean with production art industry. If you mean having a bunch of people doing your work, while you only stand for the idea, then I don’t like it. I know that numerous artists from all over art history have used apprentices for painting parts of their work, but I still don’t think it’s right.
When it comes to your own art making, how much time do you dedicate to the planning process? Is it a conscious effort or do you just go into autopilot?
The planning of the painting is the part that takes time in my process. The actual painting process takes a short time. Finding an idea, a composition, a model, a red line in between the paintings, it’s all a time and energy consuming process.
When was the Aha or Eureka moment when you realised that you had grasped the ability to paint realistically? Was it a massive breakthrough that made you want to jump up and down? Or was it a natural quiet progression?
I’ve always understood that I was able to paint realistically, even from a young age. But at one point I saw my limitations, and pretty much quit my dream of being an artist. But the eureka moment came later, while I was studying to be a teacher, when I tried oil painting for the first time. I realised that with this medium, I have no limitations.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced when learning art and especially making realistic art?
Ideas! Finding a concept that works and hasn’t been completely explored has been my big struggle. I still fight with this, and probably will the rest of my career.
What importance do you place on Realism in the world of art? Why do think it’s still one of the most popular styles?
I think realism is a good and direct medium when communicating ideas. Because of the long history of art and use of realistic imagery, we all recognize and connect easily with these ways of communicating. The problem with much conceptual art is that it tries to be unavailable for anyone but the art elite. So when people enter a conceptual exhibition, they often can’t relate, and feels stupid. It’s power in hierarchy, and conceptual art does their best in keeping it.
There are so many artists out there who want to do what you can do — because its awesome! For those aspiring to become realistic painters, what is the biggest mistake that you see them making? What do you think are the biggest wastes of time in the earlier stages?
First of all, thank you! I see a lot of beginners trying to be a master in everything at once. Drawing, printing, painting, digital painting and so on. I think many would gain a lot by focusing on one task for a longer period, and then move on to the next. I think a good way of beginning is to find out early how you want your art to look like, and then spend your energy in finding out HOW you’re able to achieve that look. Read about it, ask other artists, practise.
And concerning the professional level: What are most common mistakes that you catch yourself and other fellow pros making?
I see that many realist styled painters not challenging themselves when it comes to concepts and ideas. Many tend to keep on the tradition of classic realist imagery, with motives that could have been painted 600 years ago. I’m not saying that it isn’t value in it, but sometimes I just get bored by the same paintings over and over. Sometimes I feel like I could be criticised I the same matter, so I probably shouldn’t say more about this.
Finally, do you have any strong thoughts or opinions on the public’s perceptions of fine art? Particularly, can you comment on the audience’s common feeling of disconnectedness between a piece and the message behind it?
I don’t really have any strong opinions when it comes to people’s opinion and views on fine art. And with my own paintings I personally don’t mind if people fill in the blanks in my art with their own answers. I paint moods and atmospheres, and not narratives, so there is never a correct answer behind my art.
Thank you so much again Henrik for sharing your ideas and art, was really fantastic to get such great answers