Contemporary Charcoals: Dean M. Carpenter

Offering a remarkable range in his body of charcoal works, artist Dean M. Carpenter pushes the bounds of illusion with his subtle textures and shading. From still lifes to tempestuous landscapes, Carpenter's compositions resonate with passion and power, reflecting the depth of his creative spirit. Carpenter graciously answered some questions about his inspirations and approach for this week's installment of the "Contemporary Charcoals" series. For more information on Carpenter and his work, please visit his website.

Dean M. Carpenter

 Nitram Charcoal (NC): Who is your Favourite living artist? Dean Carpenter

(DC): Since this is in the topic of visual arts I have two. My favourite painter is Edward Walton Wilcox, and my favourite concept artist is Simon Stalenhag.

NC: What inspires you in the studio?

DC: My main inspiration comes from music and the addiction of needing to produce something visual every day. It's an obsession, a love, and a healthy addiction. I am constantly forming new concepts and ideas throughout each day, so it just has to get on paper.

Dean M. Carpenter

 NC: Tell us a bit about your background. What do you consider your greatest artistic accomplishment?

DC: My background started in the traditional fine arts by experimenting through heightened observation with all visual art mediums. I was fortunate to be around materials and resources that allowed me to do so. However, I always preferred drawing.

My early schooling was an essential launching pad because of the rigorous art programs available. Those got me into The Maryland Institute College of Art. There I really formed a conceptual vision with mentors and peers who believed in my approach and pushed me. I was lucky and fortunate for that educational experience. That environment fostered the chance to form my own approach with charcoal that isn't taught anywhere. It came from experimenting with the physicality of the medium applied to certain papers and learning for myself what worked visually and what resonated for a workflow. Since I really do love charcoal, it had to work however it could for that visual message (regardless of what I was taught). I got very creative. Detail and precision in aesthetic is something hugely important once the subject is decided compositionally.

My greatest artistic accomplishment so far, professionally, has been understanding my own voice and what that “looks” like. Witnessing the aesthetic of my own style unfolding. There is no one way to find it; it just unwraps the more you work if you disregard other artists styles, and it is a humbling experience when people react to it in positive ways.  

Dean M. Carpenter

NC: In your opinion, what sets charcoal apart from other artistic media? What is its greatest challenge?

DC: Charcoal is the most non toxic medium (without spray fix), and the most versatile of dry media. The greatest challenge is precision in small formats, and finding the right paper quality and tooth. I am very picky with paper choice.  

Dean M. Carpenter

NC: What do you define as “being creative”? How do you seek that creativity in your work?

DC: Creativity is expressive freedom. It can even be considered therapeutic freedom as a way to psychologically understand what you need to say in a metaphysical and physical sense. It can be an important mode of addressing, visually, subconscious levels of purpose, for example, what an artist is meant to do. That can be an abstract way of explaining the quintessential “zone."

The key is to not try to replicate other artists' styles just because they are popular. It is essential to understand that it is ok and acceptable to be original, especially today. We need that.

The best way I know of seeking that creativity in my own work is by relaxing and doing things I enjoy for inspiration. I also try to create something everyday. Producing something everyday has largely become an addiction for me, as it provides a bit of an endorphin buzz.  

Dean M. Carpenter

NC: What is the one thing you can not live without in the studio?

DC: A nice wall, with a large piece of mounted plexiglass (for a smooth surface).

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