It is odd hearing someone talk so comfortably about change. Isn’t it human nature for humans to be resistant to change and desire to stay stagnant?
But Charleston based artist Paul Silva welcomes it and says the evolution of the art world caused by the introduction of the digital world is thrilling.
Silva, who has no formal training, is dubbed a “New Era” artist. He mixes traditional painting with computer technology and digital photography to create vivid yet soft pieces that show the simplicity of U.S. cities. Although, it is hard to limit his work to beautiful scenery, because right next to the Charleston iron gate can be a funky piece that shows a cartoon version of his daughter walking down the street.
He likes mixing it up - not limiting himself or his artwork. Every day he challenges himself, setting a goal such as making a digital video to post to Facebook.
Looking to the future, Silva thinks the next step for artists will be virtual reality by having their audience being completely submerged in the artwork.
Although Honeycomb diners will not be walking into a virtual world when passing through the doors, during the month of August, they will be seeing pieces of Silva’s work that show the treats of Charleston.
Lucie Couillard: Where are you originally from? And what brought you to this area?
Paul Silva: Originally from the Newport, RI area. My wife Stephanie, son Christopher and I moved south to Columbia, SC in 1989 where I completed a degree in pastoral studies at Columbia Bible College and Seminary, now Columbia International University.
LC: Could you tell me a bit about your life and experiences that led you to where you are now?
PS: During the 70's (I was in my 20's) I ran a family owned parking lot business on the east side of Providence, RI, located in the shadows of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where I got a 10 year backdoor education from both schools. Through evening courses and student relationships at RISD I was able to develop some art skills. I got a bit of classic literature education from the Brown students and grads I grew to know. I got married in 1980 and left the parking lots for a career in sales, which developed successfully in the printing industry and eventually in the plastics and aerospace industries. We sold everything in 1989 and moved south for what I now call a five year ministry sabbatical. In 1994, I left a country pastorate in Monetta, SC and moved to Charlotte, NC where I began a durable medical equipment business that flourished. That enabled me to expand to the Charleston area and move to Mt. Pleasant in 1999. By 2000-2001 the "art spirit" had grabbed hold again - I sold the medical business and went all in on the art.
LC: I see that you have traveled around the United States quite a bit. What has been the most interesting place to visit and paint?
PS: I must admit that there is no place like Charleston when it comes to resources for the artist.
LC: What are all the mediums that you practice?
PS: I use a mixed medium of photography, digital painting and oil paint. I have branded it as "New Era Art". I believe the art era that we have known for the last centuries ended around 1995-98 with the advance of computer technology relating to art and graphics. With the introduction of digital photography, digital printing, powerful computers and amazing software the Digital Era was ushered in. I bring the old mediums of oils and acrylics and embrace the technology.
LC: How has this change impacted art? Has it been welcomed?
PS: The impact has been enormous, and, in the grand scheme of things, we are just transitioning into the New Era. It is only the fuse that has been lit. Any shifts in paradigm are always resisted. The battle, however, is over.
LC: Could you tell me more about your process on how you create your pieces?
PS: Usually I start with a digital photo. I do a digital painting of the photo using Photoshop and Corel Painter. This is usually more impressionistic than what the final goal is. I then print the image to canvas and oil, or acrylic paint over the entire piece.
LC: What are your favorite pieces thus far and why?
PS: The "Shem Creek Shrimp Boat Reflections", "Charleston Blue Crabs", and "King Street Lucky Brand" are a few. Why? I just like them.
LC: What inspires you to create?
PS: The freedom it brings. Creating is freedom— whether in rendering photo-realism with all its constraints, or doing collage, or animation, or aimless painting. I am free to follow the constraints or not. When done to the glory of God, one is free from the concern of criticism from others. Creating to an audience of One is the joy and freedom. And remember, "It’s only paint. Nobody dies." That’s a pretty freeing thought, too.
LC: What are you looking forward to at the Honeycomb showcase? Have you shown there before?
PS: Looking forward to the opportunity to share my work with some folks who have not seen it before and getting to know some of the folks at Honeycomb and from Daniel Island.
Learn more about the artist and view recent works at http://www.paulsilvaart.com/ or the Paul Silva Gallery Facebook page. The Paul Silva Gallery is located in the Charleston City Market Great Hall.