A visit through downtown Flagstaff, Arizona brings many beautiful sights and sounds along with it. People, nature and art makes up most of the serene and colorful environment of the growing mountain town. One day while I was traveling downtown, I came across a vibrant mural titled, "Learning to Fly", and was immediately captured by the vision of its artist.
Born in Flagstaff, Sky Black has been creating consistently from a young age, only to become an incredible artist with a unique mission. With his work, Black hopes to, "challenge the viewer's perception of reality," by creating the unique and unexpected.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
How did your upbringing influence you to become a creator?
Growing up I was nurtured in many ways, but was always taught to be exceptionally curious. Both of my parents revere creative potential and provided every opportunity for me to express any of my talents and interests. I was super into sports growing up, but I vividly remember drawing and doodling incessantly. Almost every paper or assignment I ever received would end up being filled to the margins with images and scribbles pulled out of my head. I still play many sports and games and consider my interests in athletics to fuel much of my art and lifestyle.
At what point in your life did you start taking art seriously?
My artistic interests really took off when I was 16. My Great-Grandmother was a professional painter and I inherited all of her supplies after she passed. This is when I became fascinated with oil paint. Oil paintings were something mysterious and magical to me and I wanted to be able to create them. I became intensely drawn to the idea that anything is possible when you're a creator. Some people say that everything has been done before, but I disagree passionately. We humans constantly innovate our way out of problems and through complex situations.
After high school, I was pretty serious about being an artist, but it was the decision to decline a full ride to NAU (Northern Arizona University) to be an artist that sealed the deal for me.
How would you describe your style?
My style falls in with the "New Contemporary" movement. There's a technical aspect to the paintings as well as a strong narrative and many unexpected juxtapositions. I like to combine things in new ways. My attitude while creating is to paint in a way that allows for interesting things to happen.
When creating a piece, do you plan ahead or create as you go?
I think of each piece as a self-enclosed story. The message or theme can vary in many ways, but I try for every painting to stand on their own. I like open ended scenarios. In some pieces, I’ll focus in on a close up of a subject, other times I’ll create a scene with many interacting elements.
Sometimes I’ll thoroughly plan compositions, while at others, I enjoy more of a free flowing experimental technique.
What are your favorite colors to use?
Lately I’ve been using a pastel kind of palette. My favorite color(s) to look at are the gradations usually found in the eastern sky after sunset when the earths shadow begins to climb the visible atmosphere. The transition from grayish blue hue to a dulled pink is exceptionally beautiful.
What is your muse?
I’m inspired by many things and try to allow inspiration to come from anywhere. I’m always attracted to anything unexpected. Many of my human forms lately have been inspired by my girlfriend, Alex. She’s beautiful.
What is a recent project you have been working on?
I’ve recently teamed up with The monOrchid Gallery in Phoenix and couldn’t be happier with the representation so far. They featured 16 of my pieces in a solo exhibition, we’ve done a mural together and the current show is called The Coterie Exhibition which features their new roster of artists.
What advice do you have for any aspiring artists?
Joe Sorren once told me that every time you sell a painting, it buys you time and supplies to keep doing what you love. It’s definitely not overrated to be able make a living off your passion.
Want to see more from Sky Black?