A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

A friend and I were walking along the nearby Garland Business District enjoying the sunny day and checking out the all the shops when we discovered a new art gallery. We stepped into the Little Dog Art Gallery and chatted up the owner / curator Kay West (an absolutely lovely woman). Of course, always being on the look out for artists to interview, I told her about my blog and asked her to check it out. As it turns out, luck was with me. Or actually standing ten feet behind me.

Montana artist, Mitchell Pluto was in the Little Dog Gallery waiting to drop off one of his paintings (Oracles of a Petrified Planet – pictured below) for display in next months “Earth + Above” exhibit.

The first thing I noticed about him, beyond the large painting he was holding, was an intelligent twinkle in his eye and an open and engaging smile. He was holding his painting back side out so, curious as to what style he embraced, I approached him and asked to take a look at it. He obliged with a smile and turned the painting around. At once magical and thought provoking, it instantly won him a new fan. A fan with a blog.

Keep reading for a glimpse into this incredible artists mystical inner space.

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1.  When and how did you first discover your talent / love of art?

My grandmother was an artist and noticed my talent for drawing. She encouraged it.  Around age 14 after painting a few paintings I arrived at the conclusion I really enjoyed it. During the same time while in the library, I found a book on the surrealist’s which set off a whole journey into inner space. The surrealist’s provided a way to explore the self which seemed mystical, ancient and psychological.

2.  Did you attend art school, or are you self taught?
A little of both. When I went to college, it was to study art education to become an art teacher.  Before that I received a degree in Illustration. The curriculum required me to take several courses on painting, design, ceramics and figure drawing. I did notice my creative will always pulled me firmly towards painting…so much so, I think it made me a bad student with everything else. After school, without the approval of teachers, my work transformed. My aim became less ideal and cosmetic..and more about questioning the outcome of accidents (chance). 
 .

3.   What is your process? Do you paint during the day / night, with or without music, pets, or snacks? 

I can build a conventional painting but I prefer using a psychic process called automatism. This procedure is nothing more than creating an ink blot on canvas. It allows one to become aware of one’s free associations. What begins to look like a tangled mess, gets worked through. Outlined. Focused by layers. Developed, not prepared.  Automatism is supported by Freudian based psychology . Even though automatism appears supernatural it is an effective and healthy way of unearthing the subconscious. I would compare it to self hypnosis..with the painting being a wonderful side effect.  I paint during the day and night. I enjoy drinking black tea while I work, it’s refreshing.  

4.  You seem to favor flowing geographic designs and bold colors. What turned you onto this style? What do you call your style? 

It’s my duty to mention the Woodlands style founded by Norval Morrisseau, because it made a relevant impression on me.  I casually call what I do Primitive Surrealism because I use techniques used by the Surrealists and Sigmund Freud. The primitive part is intended to represent the animistic brain. Norval Morrisseau clearly illustrates this paranormal vision by using an x-ray quality in his paintings to reveal thoughts/spirits projected into persons, places and things. 

5. Much of your art also features a natural component. Is that where you find inspiration?  What else inspires you?

I enjoy the woods. I did a commission for the Sacred Yew Institute and found tree worship had an overpowering effect on my work. Even long after the project was completed. Besides having a propensity towards the mystical,  I have a lot of faith in science, especially anthropology and psychology.

6. Do you work in any other mediums? 

I’m primarily a visual artist, oil and acrylic painter.  I’m planning on producing more texture in my work in the future.

7.  When you create, do you usually have a message or meaning to impart, or do you prefer to just go with the artistic flow? 

Sometimes I have a message. Other times I find narration. . .which is more interesting to me. I like it when unexpected things happen during the process. Automatism upsets the surface of the canvas, which is the best environment for my animistic brain to project into, creating stories out of accidents.  Many times I’ll mutate subject matter if I feel like I’m being over deliberate or too controlling. I want my work to be mutually a part of myself, and an encounter with a self I’m unfamiliar with.  

8.  Who are some of your favorite artists? (From any genre: painting, sculpting, writing, music, whatever.) 

I’m a music devotee. Music is my religion. The range is too great to mention without forgetting someone. I buy music magazines and I’m regularly on the look out for something I haven’t heard before.     **Challenge accepted!** 😉

9.  What are some of your other interests / passions? (Hobbies, volunteer work, causes you support, etc.)

I like to try to make an avant-garde art film once a year, nothing major, just for fun. I support animal refuges and conservation when I can.  I don’t hunt for food every year but I enjoy it when I have time for it.  I  seek out the luxuriant in culinary experiences and like to cook. My wife and I live close to the Clark Fork River, we see a lot of bird activity which leads to taking a lot of photos of wildlife and landscape. 

10.  If you could travel ANYWHERE for your art, where would you go and why? 

Scotland/United Kingdom. I think I would enjoy being a guest there. They have tours that bring you to the stones and different ley lines. I would be open to observing what kind of magical effects those type of locations would have on my  work.

MPstoneturtle

Migrating Glyph (revised)

Like to see more of Mitchell’s work?  Click here to visit his fb page  OR  visit his personal site at mitchellpluto.com .

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2 thoughts on “A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

  1. Medium rare, MJ; just the way I like it! Covered a lot of Mitchell Pluto ground, here and beyond! I look forward to seeing more of his art, as I’m sure you do, too. Thanks for interviewing and sharing all of this with us, your fans.

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