LIGHTPOLE ART © 2010 Drew Mullen
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Andrew John Mullen is an artist, writer, and illustrator living in Black Rock CT. His words and drawings have been featured in publications like Powder Magazine and Cross Country Skier Magazine as well as in solo exhibits, group shows, juried art shows, and coffee shops throughout the United States. Although Drew is an accomplished painter using oils, in 2004 he found new joy in the intricate line carvings of his scratchboard drawings winning him accolades in multiple juried shows.
Being an active outdoorsman backpacking, snowboarding, skateboarding, skiing, camping, fishing, kayaking and playing sports have always been a large part of Drew's life. He finds comfort in the outdoors especially the rugged and sensual geography of New England. Taking advantage of the regions beauty he always carries a camera with him on his backcountry adventures. The photographs he takes along the way and his memories of past experiences are what he uses as fuel for his etched drawings and the work featured here.
Regionalism and the work of Thomas Hart Benton has had a direct influence on Drew's work. He enjoys the concept of watching how man manipulates the environment and becomes a part of it through architecture, machinery, and everyday life. The concept of both rural and urban living have captured his attention. There is certain purity to the country that just can't be captured in any city experience. And there is a life and structure to the urban world that just doesn't exist in the natural habitat. He has found a connection with both ways of life and tries to represent that in his work. Sometimes the world can be an exciting place full of adventure and discovery. Other times it can represent that of a lonely and desolate existence. Through his representations of these rural and urban scenes he incorporates his own odd style and distorts the world to better represent the way he sees it.
In addition, Caravaggio and the work of Baroque artists have had a great influence on Drew's work. The concept of Chiaroscuro, light objects emerging from a dark background, inspired the use the black ink panel of the clayboard. He chose the medium for its ability to properly represent the textures, movement, depth and three dimensionality that is found in nature while still having the freedom to show off the dramatic lighting he thrives to capture.
"I believe that our experiences in life and the choices that we make along the way are what mold who we are as people. These same choices and experiences are our connection to society and the environment around us. Everything exists together as one and if you look at the world with the right kind of eyes you can begin to see that. This is the main goal of my work." -Andrew John Mullen
Andrew uses a museum quality product called Clayboard/Scratchboard. This product is composed of a fine layer of clay that is sandwiched between a piece of thick particle board on the bottom and a thin layer of black ink on the top. The layer of black ink is drawn on in pencil first then the ink is carved away revealing the white clay. This is a long and tedious process with little room for mistake. Andrew uses an array of needle tools to carve away the fine details of the image and a linoleum cutting tool to gouge out the areas that appear totally white. When the carving is complete the board is sprayed with a fixative that prevents yellowing and forms a protective layer over the ink to prevent further damage and scratching. Below is an image of Drew at work.