After some attention as a book illustrator in the late nineties, Ohio-based artist James Oberschlake returned to school and received his MFA from the University of Cincinnati in 2011. He is the founder and director of an online resource for American figurative art called Figure50, which features one artist from every state in the U.S. on a rotating basis. His time is currently divided between managing Figure50, painting nearly full time, and exploring the natural surroundings along the Ohio River. James recently returned from an extended visit to his wife’s home country, Thailand, and suspects that the strange sights there will begin to filter into his new work. (Image left: James Oberschlake – Bestial, oil and collage on board, 16 x 12)
I nearly always begin an image by drawing loose forms with paint. Very quickly I will start to make associations with those forms and will then begin a lengthy process of continually reexamining and redefining the anatomical and spatial possibilities suggested by previous marks. A large portion of my intent, and a source of much enjoyment, is simply to explore a diverse range of textures and color/value relationships while the realization of subject matter morphs into focus. In utilizing a free association approach, layers of content build as a narrative in conjunction with the physical application of materials. With no initial objective for content, the stories found in the work typically remain ambiguous, allowing for a raw, emotional response and a variety of personal interpretations.