Below is a Q&A with Jacob Mazurek, Cornerstone’s Artist of the Month for July 2017.
Tell us briefly about your background & how you got started in your medium.
I am an active duty Senior Chief Mineman in the U.S. Navy, with close to 21 years of service. Throughout my travels, I paint at coffee shops. The result is that I have painted at coffee shops in 11 countries on 4 continents, as well as seven states. Currently I have paintings in private collections on 3 continents.
I got into painting in 2001 as a result of a failed attempt to win the heart of a lady. While stationed in England, I ran into a girl on my street whom I had met at a party the night before. I gave her a tour of my apartment (all 400 sq. ft), where she saw a picture that I had done in high school. She asked me to make one for her. Naturally, I ran off to buy art supplies (after receiving advice from a shipmate that acrylic is the way to go). I made the painting, she liked it, but I didn’t get the girl (some months later I met the woman who is now my wife, so that was a win). Having the art supplies and plenty of free time, I decided to teach myself how to paint. I have been evolving as a painter ever since.
I paint in primarily two styles…photorealism, and hard-edge.
How Does Your Medium Inform Your Viewpoint?
Because of my photorealism style, I find myself constantly evaluating images and scenery for potential as subjects for paintings. As a photographer, I try to take pictures that have unusual perspectives, unique looks, fascinating subjects, and/or interesting lighting. The interesting photos I hold onto for future consideration when I am looking for a new project.
I like using acrylics mostly because they allow me to work in public without worrying about how to wash my brushes, and their quick-drying nature allows me to transport them easily without damaging them. I like photorealism because of the technical challenge of replicating and improving upon the colors, textures, and details.
Who or What Have Been Your Artistic Inspirations?
I am inspired by Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Erica Ridley, and Raphaella Spence. Their styles, however, do not necessarily reflect in my own work.
Generally the subjects that make me work hardest are commissioned pieces (yes, I accept them). When I work on a commission, I am challenged to work on subjects that I might not normally choose. It is through commission work that I have learned to expand my horizons to include African-Americans, color paintings based on black-and-white photos, furry pets, feathers, jewels, snow, camouflage, flowers, mountains, etc. It is because I care about satisfying my customers that I tend to put out products that are better and more ambitious than I might have put out on my own accord.
Do You Have a Favorite Piece in Your Portfolio?
My favorite piece was a commission, called “Snowy Sea and Anchor”. It is based on an action photo taken aboard the USS Patriot (MCM 7) in Sasebo, Japan. The Captain’s wife wanted me to paint something showing her husband’s men at work. I dug through the ship’s Facebook page and found this and a few other images that I would find interesting. The wife chose this one from the options that I gave her. The challenges in creating it were in figuring out how to paint (1) camouflaged uniforms; (2) a double-braided mooring line in motion; and (3) snow in both the foreground and background.
What Would be Your Advice to Artists Just Starting Out in Your Medium?
Always challenge yourself. Buy the smallest brush that you can and pay attention to the details. Never use paint straight from the tube…it becomes less bright as soon as it dries. Mix white and/or black into every color mixture to get the precise tint or shade that you desire. Coffee and napkins work wonders for cleaning a brush, as long as you wipe the excess off first. If you are painting in public, be as neat, tidy, and courteous as possible.