William T. Underwood
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• Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from Eastern Kentucky University with a major in painting, and a minor in drawing.
• Studied life drawing at the Louisville School of Art
• Taught art fundamentals as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois University.
• Master of Arts (MA) degree from the University of South Florida in 1995.
• Adjunct drawing and design professor at St Petersburg Junior College, 1999 to 2001.
• Figure Drawing Instructor at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, Florida for many years.
“I create odd, classical paintings – without color and without paint.
I grew up with black & white film and doodling with a pencil on paper. As an art major in college I discovered surrealism, new realism, and of course, the big name classical realist painters.
With no color to distract, the images are stark, in-your-face, and emotional. They are about value, shape, and texture, and they are realistic. I am not adverse to using a splash of color if its necessary, but its usually not.
The visual impact of a giant black and white drawing is obvious. I chose charcoal because it is faster to cover a large board with charcoal than to labor over it for weeks and weeks with a pencil. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of time put into the charcoal process, but because it is much faster, I can see major changes quickly, and ultimately reach a finishing point before I grow weary of the piece. With charcoal I can quickly lay in a deep, rich black not possible with pencils, and then lose edges as the image fades into the darkness.
In order to elevate a drawing to “painting” status, I mount them without glass. This is done by spraying on several coats of art fixative, then an acrylic spray, and finishing up with two coats of acrylic varnish painted on with a large brush. The art board or paper surface is glued to a thick foamboard, and in more recent pieces, a hardboard panel and the work becomes a black and white painting, drawn with no paint.
The black background is prominent in my work. I want the image to emerge out of the shadow, leaving whatever is behind the main subject vague and ambiguous. The humorous images can hide a deeper darkness, that may be intentional or imagined by the viewer.
Some of my earlier work was drawn with a white pencil on black paper. Looking for a thinner ink-like line, I discovered scratchboard. I carve away a black surface to reveal the white underneath. With a small exacto knife I am able to get thinner lines that were impossible with a white pencil. These lines are perfectly suited to wildlife drawings and starting in November of 2014, I began creating detailed drawings with rich, black backgrounds. As the scratchboard size grows, more animals and objects start showing up, and the scratchboards become an extension of the charcoal drawings.”