I’m Wes Aderhold, 34, I live in Los Angeles but I was born in Texas. I’m a father to the cutest French bulldog you’ve ever seen. “Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” - George Bernard Shaw. 




Tell us your story, how did you come to painting? When I was younger, I was a professional gymnast. I moved away from home at 17, but I found my escape in art. I would get lost in my sketch books. I drew these ugly, disproportionate, emotional people. Art was the only language I had to figure out who I was and make sense of the world. Being an athlete taught me the value of practice and dedication, but it also created a “gold medal” mentality, which I fight daily in my art. I wish I could tell you a chic story about how I was raised by artists and spent my childhood in museums, but the truth is, I’ve taught myself everything I know about art. When I began painting I found myself, in my most authentic form.

How would you define your current painting? I am currently working on a series called “Welcome To The Suburbs,” which has been my exploration of growing up queer in the suburban bible belt. It’s taking all the weird, shamed, ugly outcast feelings and experience and wrapping them up with a pretty little bow. Thematically it’s about conflict, conformity, society pressures, and ultimately about the loss of innocence. I’m exploring all of this against the backdrop of the suburban South.

Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told? When I try to summarize what my art is, it feels like I’m standing in front of 5 or 6 boxes, figuring out how to squeeze some into this box, and some of it into that box. In the beginning, I think all artists want to immediately have their signature style but the best and most exciting artists are always evolving and exploring. Don’t limit yourself, everything you create is you.

That being said, I’d say my work figurative, a little expressionist and what I’m calling “minimal cubism.” They are combination of painting and drawing, sometimes chaotic, sometimes clean. My secrets? I’m not afraid to be vulnerable. I pour my heart into everything I do. I paint how I see the world - messed up, unfair and uncomfortable. Finally, I let myself play.  

How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation? I start my pieces with blind faith, a good playlist and shot of bourbon. Joking aside, it varies per piece but I’d say I’m about 89% improvisation and the rest is inspired by a sketch. I sketch all the time, but they are never with the intention of pre- planning a piece. Sometimes I’ll come across a previous sketch and I won’t be able to get it out of my head - that’s when I’ll translate it into a painting. I welcome as many “mistakes” as possible at the start of a piece because it does two things: One, it adds texture, depth and a secret history that might not even be visible or obvious to the viewer. Two, it allows me to act on my impulses immediately, without any fear of messing something up.

What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you? I always start with the question “What was the moment you lost your innocence?” We have all been robbed of that at some point, whether it’s the sudden awareness of beauty and body, sexual violation, or racial and gender inequity. And I think we are all, in some way, striving to get it back. I’m drawn to the relationships between parent and child, oppressor and the oppressed, societal norms and authenticity. I’m motivated by the human condition and I paint the world the way that I see it. I’m equally as inspired by the greats like DuBuffet, Le Corbusier, Condo, de Kooning, Basquiat, Bacon as I am by all the exciting emerging artists.

What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it? My studio used to be a Blockbuster, which is fitting given that film provided a similar escape before I found painting. If you popped by, you would likely hear 90’s music and my fingers would be a mess - I like to finger paint for some reason. I usually have several works going at the same time. I find it helpful to change over to another piece when I’m stuck on one.

What is art for you? Empathy.

Photos by: Wes Aderhold
Instagram. @wesaderhold


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