The journey of an artist: Q&A with David Garlin Mcmillian
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On a quiet Friday afternoon, a living room in a house on Chestnut Street is dimly lit. As Bob Ross talks softly on Netflix, David Garlin Mcmillian hunches over a light box, a device illuminating a piece of his artwork, over a poem his girlfriend wrote.
In this effort of artistic collaboration, he traces her words onto his graphite sketching, walks over to the couch and places the freshly finished product in a frame, getting it ready for an upcoming show at Naked Lounge on Nov. 11.
Mcmillian works with mediums of all kinds—oil paint, graphite, ink and he even does graphic design for Sierra Nevada. And though his work comes from these different elements, they all share a kind of bold cohesiveness—something obvious within every piece.
We soon make our way to the back porch to sit down to talk about how his artistic career led to the curation of his upcoming art show.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Pittsburg originally and moved to Santa Barbara when I was 11. I came up to Chico when I was 14 and jumped back and forth from here and Pittsburg through high school. I came back to Chico when I was 17 and have been here since.
How did art become such a big part of your life?
It was always something to do and occupy my time with. It was a little bit of home for me—it was stationary. I was 14 and jumping around and moving so much, art was always something that stayed the same for me. You have to make new friends, meet new people, get used to a new area. Art was a way to step back and calm my soul.
You work with several different types of mediums, which one do you prefer the most?
Pencil—just graphite on paper. Pen and ink is good. Working with oil paint, I tend to think a bunch before I actually put the medium down on the canvas so it’s a little bit daunting. But with graphite, I can rework and rearrange it. I’m not as afraid to put that stroke down…it feels malleable.
How has your experience been in the Chico art scene?
It’s really friendly. It’s given me room and space to find out my identity as an artist. There’s a lot of different artists here and there’s a lot of different places to put up your art. In terms of design, it’s been a little bit inhibiting ‘cause there’s not that many big design companies out here. But, as in traditional art, it’s been a nice experimentation process for me.
How are you preparing for your upcoming show at Naked Lounge?
Just [taking] a look at the body of work I have at the time of [Naked Lounge] letting me do the show and dialing down what I want to focus on and what I wanted to put out there for the world, for Chico, for anyone in the art scene to see. It’s really made focus on my strengths and weaknesses as an artist.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?
Never look at your creativeness or your artistic ability as a destination. Always appreciate the journey of it because you’re constantly learning from it and progressing. The day that you see an end point for that you’ll stop progressing. So always look at it as a journey.
Be sure to check out David Garlin Mcmillian show starting at Naked Lounge from Nov. 11-31 and give him a follow on instagram @pondo_doodles.
Matt Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewmanfredi on Twitter.