Studio Visit 2

Adam Gunn, Painter

Adam Gunn received a diploma of Digital Animation from NSCC in 1999 and a BFA from NSCAD in 2010. He was a finalist in the RBC Painting Competition in 2011 and 2013. He was the winner for Nova Scotia in the 2010 BMO 1st competition. He is commencing his MFA candidacy at Concordia University fall 2014.


I wasn’t even sure I wanted to paint. I had already been an animator for years. I thought I would try out different things and come back to animation. I took an intro painting class and I sucked at painting for, like, two weeks. It took me awhile to loosen up at first. I didn’t know how to handle a brush or how to make marks from that far away. With drawing for animation, I was used to being meticulous, being very close to things. It seemed to be that after two weeks, painting just sort of clicked.

I really enjoy painting from still lifes. I like light a lot. Things are so complicated in reality. I like capturing that sort of complicatedness. There’s a level of complicatedness to reality that a photograph really simplifies. And the colour–I’m not sure if it’s because you are seeing the colour with two eyes, or if it’s just the richness of real light, but when I’m trying to discern colours, I’ll see so many colours in one colour. I want to try to capture all of it–it’s tough. A photograph is so simplified. It takes out any colour richness–even the most colourful photograph. I’m trying not to simplify, I’m trying to capture everything I can see and even exaggerate it more.

I’m really into neutral colours. When light changes over them you see so many different hues. Is it more purple or is it more yellow? I like the neutrals behind it. I’m kind of influenced by this cartoonist John Kricfalusi I was really into reading his blog. He’s the guy who is famous for creating The Ren & Stimpy Show. He’s written a lot of posts about colour. In order to have colourfulness, you have to have neutral colours for the contrast. Bright colours won’t read as bright unless there are neutral colours around it. He shows lots of examples. To really make colours have real punch you need that contrast.














For my still life set-ups, I’ve been making shapes that are just gluing things together–plastic things I find. I wanted to take away all the recognizable things. I’m making forms that refer to themselves. You can’t quite name what you’re seeing.

I’ve started playing around with insulation foam. It took awhile to make interesting shapes. I spent weeks making shapes with insulation foam. I had all these folding tables covered in insulation foam. I had foam hanging from a piece of string.

I also find things to use at yards sales, flea markets and dollar stores. Although, all dollar stores seem to be the same now. I’m trying to ween myself off of dollar stores. I think they’re going to disappear soon because things are changing in China. I heard that China’s not going to deal with foreign currency any more. Where am I going to get my plastic grapes from?

I go to hardware stores and building supply stores too. There’s where I get insulation foam. I find stuff and try things like painting a bunch of catheters. The paint didn’t stay on very well. I bought these other tubes in different lengths. I think they’re used somehow in butts! I like the variety of shapes and sizes. I’ve got boxes full of bugs and plants.

–Adam Gunn, as told to Studio Beat

Photos by Rachel MacFarlane

Visit Adam Gunn’s website here.

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