Art Up Close: In Conversation with Eric Blum (Part I)

The process of trial and error
September 15, 2020

Kathryn Markel (KM): I'm talking to the artist Eric Blum about his beautiful paintings. Eric, I wanted you to articulate the kind of result of your imagery and what you’re trying to achieve. 


Eric Blum (EB): I’m trying to achieve something I have never seen before in my own work, something that appears to have been made by somebody else – that’s the ultimate aim. It’s what I tried to do years ago when I had a career as a photographer for about ten years. What I always wanted to achieve was what I’m painting today. 


KM: In photography?


EB: Yes. I worked commercially in photography, so it was virtually impossible to produce images like this, but it’s what I always had in the back of my mind. 


KM: So how did you translate photography into painting? Did you decide that photography wasn’t the medium to get what you wanted?


EB: There was no moment of decision; there was a transition. I'd always painted, I’ve been painting since high school, and painted a little bit during my career as a photographer. The transition started to happen in the early-to-mid 80s when I lived in London.


KM: And how did you develop this particular process, and can you describe it?


EB: Trial and error, trial and error. I’ve always been interested in transparency and a sort of muted feel, which I used to do when I worked with a lot of wax and layers and layers and layers of wax, which I don’t do anymore, but I still use it. Transparency and layering is something I’ve always tried to do, and silk seemed to be the perfect candidate for that. 


KM: And the combination of your material seems to really give the elusive quality to the imagery and forms, so they seem to go in and out of space. You can see them sometimes, and not see them so well at other times.