At an early age, Andrew Dickson was involved in art and spent hours drawing from imagination. He was influenced by the artwork of his mother, Annette Dickson, and through her became familiar with California watercolorist Milford Zornes and southwest artist Joella Mahoney. Later, while pursuing another vocation, he attended a painting workshop with Zornes. This experience inspired Andrew and challenged him to pursue a career in art with conviction.With little formal training, he began a daily routine of painting outdoors along the coastline of the Monterey Peninsula where he grew up. During that time he benefited from the critical feedback and encouragement of professional painter and filmmaker Rick Harper. Not long after, Andrew was accepted in the graduate program at California State University Long Beach where he completed his MFA. At Long Beach, Andrew had the unique privilege of studying drawing and painting with Domenic Cretara and graduate committee chair Yu Ji. Andrew’s aesthetic ideas and studio practice were profoundly influenced by Yu Ji’s teaching, which emphasized the significance of the drawing process and the use of the structural line to articulate immediate visual experiences. Since then, Andrew’s work has been featured in American Artist and has been exhibited nationally. He is an artist member of the California Art Club. Andrew has taught drawing and painting at California State University, Long Beach, The Palos Verdes Art Center, and Huntington University in Indiana. Andrew currently works as an Assistant Professor of Foundation Painting at California State University Fullerton.
My initial aesthetic interest in a location is always intuitive, a strong feeling conveyed visually through the subject. Attempting to move from an intuitive response to a concrete object that contains and conveys these sensed ideas is a challenging task. A location may present many potential pictorial ideas and it is the job of the artist to discern which qualities he or she wishes to select and to emphasize, based on his or her particular perception of the subject. I have painted many landscape paintings that do not convey what I initially perceived or felt in the location because at the time I had a limited awareness of my objectives and of the process involved in achieving them. This is why preliminary studies in a sketchbook are so invaluable. They allow me to process my visual experiences on a formal level: analyzing shapes, space relationships, lines, colors and textures in order to better understand their function relative to visual expression. Through this process I have discovered that I have a particular interest in exploring and developing the element of space and in revealing the particular shape structures of the observed subject or environment. In this sense I am a formalist, because I place great value on the pure expressive quality of the form itself. The ideas I wish to express, however, are not only connected to feelings evoked by the formal aspects of the scene, but also to certain associations and ideas related to the locations themselves. I find I am continually drawn to settings that contain both natural and man-made forms. In urban environments I tend to gravitate toward views that convey a sense of open space, solitude or some contrasting element of natural beauty. Conversely, in natural settings I am drawn to pristine locations that contain traces of man’s presence in the scene. This can suggest a sense of time or history and also presents unexpected pictorial harmonies and discords in the environment for the artist to explore. Likewise, I see my work as a document of a particular time and location that is in a continual process of change, decay, or renewal. Many of the environments that I have depicted in the past are now totally transformed, often to the extent that they are no longer visually compelling to me. In this way I am able to secure an aesthetic idea that is fleeting. Finally, I find that I am attracted to stark, austere landscapes and ordinary locations, partly because they are often remote, quiet, and meditative and also because I find it rewarding to reveal the intricacy, inimitability, and sense of beauty present in places that are often overlooked.
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