Artist: John Mueller
Exhibition: Drawing and Painting Figurative Group Show
Media: Oil on canvas
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist
John Mueller is an undergraduate student in the School of Art’s Drawing and Painting Program at California State University, Long Beach. The painting exhibited in the Gatov Gallery West is his first major work of art Mueller has created using oil paint and he worked for extended hours throughout the entire Spring 2016 semester to complete it. Mueller has always had a passion for art and has many sketch books that he used to pull inspiration for his painting. His sketches predominantly contain sketches of himself, his dog and people that he knows while in his painting he puts together different sketches within his sketchbook to make it into one whole piece. He emphasizes his goal is to make people think about his art.
Mueller’s piece was a rather realistic, large oil painting on a canvas and he uses the shades purple, pink, brown and gray in a rustic way throughout the painting to contrast the visuals in this painting. There is huge contrast between the focal point of the art piece and his surroundings. The stokes used throughout the painting are small, rough, dash-like brushstrokes, which seems to be artist’s signature painting style.
Mueller put together pieces that he has previously sketched throughout his life into his painting and chose a man, whom is a friend of his, and his dog for the painting. Both the dog and the man are in a gloomy room together and have expressions on their faces in which they look upset or annoyed. The dark colors used for the room, man and the dog are all dark colors which add to the mood of the painting and overall atmosphere of the space in which they are enclosed in. However, the sky can be seen through two large windows behind the discontent man leaning on a table and the light from the room provides shadows to further add to the gloominess of the room. The clouds hint at a beautiful sunset because they are pink and dainty, and the outside looks like an amazing view, however, the man has his back turned against the window and is failing to see the view. I feel like the man could be any ordinary person depriving him or herself from everything beautiful that surrounds them and taking life for granted because they are consumed with down-spiraling emotions. Consequently, everything the man is touching or that is surrounding him in the room is also sad and gloomy which suggests that having a negative outlook on life or drowning in your feelings can also have an effect on everything around you, or at least the way you see everything around you.
This painting did not hold my attention at a glance because I was not thinking about it, however, as I spent more time on it and tried to decipher the meaning behind it I did feel like it was easy to relate to. The biggest feature of the painting is the contrast between the room in which the man is in and the beautiful sky seen through the windows. I try to validate my emotions because they are real and we deserve to be sad if we are feeling sad. However, dragging out emotions and becoming lost in a sea of negativity could be a really bad habit and it has happened to me in the past. Like the man in the painting, I have been mad, sad, discontent and depressed and found that those emotions are very harsh to you, your surroundings and your views while in that state of mind. To me, the man looks unhappy and that unhappiness and negativity are also expressed in his environment and even with the dog next to him. The man is depriving himself of the outside world because he is being consumed by his emotions and this is very common. When you are in a funk, you fail to realize that there is so much of the world that you are missing out on because you’re so trapped in your emotions and you become disconnected with the outside world. Mueller conveyed a relatable piece, at least to me, and enabled me to think and ask myself if I have ever been the sad man missing out on the sunset that is right over his shoulder.