Alejandro Castanon - Texas, U.S.A.
I was born in Mexico and grew up in Spain and Germany. After finishing school I joined the military and ended up in Houston, TX. I separated from the military in 2011 to move to San Angelo, TX to be closer to my daughter. I opened the Vino Dipinte Art Gallery in October 2011 that exhibits over 15 local artists.
I have always painted; mostly for fun but when I decided to leave the military and follow my dream to open a gallery I really jumped into full gear. All I do now is paint and sketch, I am deeply involved in the art community and actively promoting other artists as well myself. I think once I realized that my life was surrounded by art in more than one way I knew I had become an artist.
My art is a mix between expressionism and realism. I do sketch in graphite, charcoal and ink. My paintings are all done in acrylic. I have a pet peeve; I don't like taking more than three or four hours to finish painting. Maybe it is a good and bad thing but it is apparent in my brush strokes and choice of colors. I never really liked doing flesh tones on portraits so I replace them with vivid colors that bring out a certain emotion in my subjects.
Do you listen to music while painting?
I like high energy music. I have several playlists that range from 60s rock, Michael Jackson, Funk, Contemporary Rock and even Dubstep.
What do you do to get inspired?
I love taking walks with my camera and my sketch book. I grew up in a big city so I like walking down city streets and rivers. I listen to music while I'm walking and if the weather is bad I will head to book store.
Do you do anything else besides creating art?
I spend time with my daughter, I help market local artists that are displaying in the art gallery. I volunteer a lot in the community for local non-profits. I love to workout and go to social events like art shows and museum openings.
What artworks are you currently working on?
I am currently preparing a Nude Art Show at the gallery that involves a lot of marketing and preparation on the artists side of things. I am also working on my first large cityscape painting of our downtown area which I am very excited to start. The planning process is my favorite step because I can visualize the painting and the colors I plan to use before painting on the canvas.
Do you have a favorite painting?
I completed a portrait of Pancho Villa for a Hispanic Art show recently. It was done on a 26"x30" canvas. I loved the process and the flow of the painting while creating it. It felt easy and relieved a lot of stress. It began as a challenge because I didn't have much of a reference to start with so I had to "feel" out most of it.
What is the artist’s place in the world?
I think the artist is bound to inspiring creativity in the community. We must find ways to express in art what words cannot. I remember growing up and feeling a passion burn inside me when I looked at art by Van Gogh, Matisse and many others. It made me feel like I could create great art as well.
Have you sold many of your artworks?
I have sold several pieces since opening the gallery. It's a combination of various promotional strategies that include: social media, traditional media (print, T.V, radio) and social interaction. I believe that probability will always be on your side. The more you promote your art the better chance you will find someone that wants to buy it. I also believe that if you love an idea, not just like an idea, that someone will love it as well.
What are your favorite methods of art promotion using the internet?
Facebook and email marketing has been my greatest tools for spreading information on art. It wasn't so simple at first. I had to really get to know this city and how people liked to communicate. Every place is different. This city is a little behind all the other big cities. They still rely a lot on print and television ads. Facebook is the main social media, Twitter and Pinterest have not really caught on.
What are your influences?
Picasso and Van Gogh have always been there in my life. When I was 13, I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Holland and spent all day admiring his work. It has stayed with me all this time. Picasso also inspired me and I had the opportunity to view some of his rare work in a traveling exhibit in Arkansas. I love them both for their ability to feel what they should paint as opposed to know what they should paint. They were not bound entirely by their time period.
Can you tell us about an admired contemporary artist.
Rene Alvarado won Texas State Artist of 2009. He was born in the same city as me in Mexico. He has incredible vision and his technique and style are truly one of kind. There is a sense of balance and energy that come from each of his paintings that make it very difficult to move on to another. I really admire his passion and dedication to making each piece better than the last.
Please tell us some interesting events from your life.
When I was a teen I had the opportunity to travel across Europe and see many countries; the Swiss Alps, Rome, Venice, Paris, Milan, Portugal, London, Barcelona, I could keep going. My home is there in every place I saw. I remember closing my eyes after I looked at every bridge, church, fountain etc, to try and burn their image into my mind. I never wanted to leave those places. Now I close my eyes and I relive them every time I want to travel back. I am very thankful to have had that opportunity.
Where would you like to see your art career in 10 years?
In 10 years? Like every artist. I hope to contribute more to the art community and evolve into a better artist. To understand more about art and how it effects our lives. I want to leave a lasting impression on my daughter as a father and as an artist. Hopefully to inspire her through it to accomplish her own dreams.
Advice for emerging artists.
Aim to learn from every piece you finish to make the next one better. Take the time to study your own work as much as you study others. Oh and be social. If your desire is to make a living off your art then like any career you must interact with your clients.
Alejandro Castanon – Vinodipinte Art Gallery - Cultivating Art in Texas
Texas, U.S.AWebsite: www.vinodipinte.com | Twitter: @Vinodipinte | Facebook | Google+
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