Artist Curtis Bartone
About Curtis Bartone
Curtis Bartone was born in 1965 in Erie, Pennsylvania. He received a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design and an MFA in painting from Northwestern University in Chicago. He lived in Chicago from 1989 until 2001 and relocated to Savannah, Georgia in 2001 where he currently lives. The landscape and wildlife of the lowcountry environment and its contrast with manmade elements has become an integral theme in his work.
Curtis Bartone's work focuses on the uneasy relationship between human beings and the natural world, addressing the concept of wilderness, which is typically presented as a distorted fiction rather than a mysterious, pristine reality. The disparate flora and fauna presented in Bartone's art are often drawn from his personal experience of the natural environments of far-flung countries including Iceland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Zambia, and New Zealand. Filtered through art history and mass media, his works synthesize seemingly disparate elements, revealing connections, beauty, and order amidst apparent disharmony. Bartone's work has been included in numerous group exhibitions internationally, and in solo exhibitions at the Telfair Art Museum in Savannah, Georgia; Byron Roche Gallery; the Morris Graves Museum of Art in California: SPACE Gallery in Savannah; Gallery Stokes in Atlanta; Listagil Gallery in Akureyri, Iceland; the Elmhurst Art Museum in Illinois; the Erie Art Museum in Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois in Chicago, among other institutions. Bartone was the recipient of the Gil Society Studio Residency Fellowship in Akureyri, Iceland in 2005. His work is included in numerous public and private collections.
Interview with the Artist
How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork? Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
The thistle was easily incorporated into my drawing because my work often includes beautiful plants that evolve to defend themselves in various ways--by becoming poisonous or, in this case, by developing sharp thorns. In fact, when I was contacted to do a drawing for Strathmore, I had already included thistles in several drawings and paintings.
How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
The fine tooth of the 400 series paper is perfect for a detailed graphite drawing. The texture was fine enough to hold detail and crisp lines, while the paper was just "soft" enough to allow for some softening of edges.
Which artists inspire you?
There are so many artists that inspire me that I lose track of them. I like to look at art as much as I like to make art. My biggest inspiration, both technically and conceptually, comes from the Dutch still life painters of the 17th century, artists of the 18th and 19th century and natural science illustrators like John James Audubon. I am influenced and awed by many artists from the Renaissance: Leonardo Da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, Giovanne Bellini, and Heironymous Bosch. I also like many contemporary artists--Odd Nerdrum, a Norwegian narrative figure painter; Walton Ford, who creates very large, technically stunning watercolor and ink images of what look initially like Audubon illustrations; Chicago artist Laurie Hogin, who paints menacing, Baroque animals in tempestuous settings--to name only a few.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
I would give the same advice to a beginning artist as I would to anyone starting out in any field: Work hard and keep working no matter what. It sounds easy, but the trick is to KEEP working hard even when you are not being paid or when you don't have an upcoming exhibition. That's where most artists fail; they stop making work when the outside world stops looking.