WE need monsters!
We need monsters! Across the world, there are references to monsters everywhere from contemporary culture to ancient civilizations. Whether they are brought to us through religious literature, scary ghost stories or children's books, we all find a way to use monsters as a way of understanding our fears. Today, monsters are often a source of entertainment to be found in forms of popular culture such as horror films and television, and these are the monsters that have inspired me the most. Hoping to bring new monsters to a new generation of people who need them, I have created "We Need Monsters", a series of colourful and textured acrylic paintings of original monsters inspired by horror in popular culture and entertainment.
I use a variety of acrylic paints and mediums to create the most interesting monsters possible, and to represent the different textures of the monster's various body parts such as eyes, skin, teeth, tongue and lips. Acrylic is an extremely versatile medium that allows for a very full range of mark making possibilities, paint finishes, and texture options, and I push myself to explore this as far as I can. I approach the creation of each of my monsters in a way that is similar to a creature designer or special effects professional creating an original creature for film or television, and I am always trying to create an original character unlike those that the viewer is already familiar with. My goal is to create interesting viewing experiences for people by showcasing a broad range of textures and finishes. Within each piece, there are always different painting techniques on display, as well as sculpting techniques. Each painting could even be considered a contemporary collage, as it is an example of different artistic methods being metaphorically glued together on the panel.
The entire body of the monster is never part of the composition, leaving the idea of what the monster is doing, and what their whole body looks like, up to the viewer. The monster is more mysterious this way, and I hope for the viewer to become involved with the painting, imagining what the rest of the monster would look like beyond the frame of the piece of artwork. Positioning the figure of the monster in a way that avoids revealing the monster in it's entirety also references the way in which horror films have done this for many years. Monsters in movies often appear for only short periods of time in which the viewer cannot see the entire monster, while sound effects and reactions from human actors are used to fill in the gaps and help the viewer create an image in their mind of what the whole monster looks like.
Through different cultures across the world and over thousands of years, humanity has used the concept of monsters in storytelling to stand in for things we are afraid of and things that we feel threaten us. Monsters can represent serious subjects such as death, disease, illness, war, murder, jealousy, evil that can be done by humans and threats posed by predatory beasts. Not only do we use these tales to serve as a warning, or entertainment for adults, but we also use stories of monsters to teach children and younger generations about things they should fear or be wary of. Monsters are often used as much as a tool for education as they are for entertainment.
However, over time, our legends of monsters have changed and evolved. They have been reinvented and updated for each new generation, and imagery representing monsters has changed as well, with new forms of media and artistic representation bringing new possibilities for new monsters. I create original monsters for our generation, and although inspired by monsters found in contemporary horror culture and entertainment, I never recreate specific monsters from pop culture. These monsters are my own unique characters, and I want to give viewers a new experience with a new monster that is not already known to them.
Viewers of my work can create their own meaning and use the monsters to represent their own fears if they so desire. However, I like to put a bit of humour in my paintings and create monsters that may make the viewer smile. The humourous quality of the monsters in these paintings can allow the viewer a feeling of conquering these fears, and being able to laugh at the things that scare you. My monsters are never gory, and can be enjoyable for all ages. They could be considered scary or cute, funny or even friendly depending on the interpretation of the viewer. I like the idea that the monsters in these paintings could be just as afraid of you as you are of them, and the monsters could be aggressive or they could be shocked and frightened to see you.
I am continuously inspired to create new artwork featuring new monsters, and the "We Need Monsters" series of paintings is ever evolving. As I encounter more newly invented creatures in popular culture and entertainment, my own original designs will continue to reflect these inspirations. We need monsters!