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BD Artist Spotlight – Jason Mathias

sailfish art

Q:Where do you live?

A: I live in Stuart FL.

Q:What mediums do you work in?

A: Mostly I work in oils and acrylics, sometimes watercolor and of course I use charcoal pencil to sketch out my compositions. I also use digital mediums as well, but only for graphic logo design, and marketing ads as is needed in our modern world, but I’m definitely a traditionalist at heart.

Q:What is your favorite medium?

A: My favorite medium would have to be oil on a nice thick canvas. There’s something about the raw consistency, richness of color, variety of effects, simplicity of the brush stroke and the calmness that goes along with not having to speed through a piece before the paint dries.

Q:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?

A: My other main hobbies would still involve my love for the ocean, where I can directly connect with its energy and dance with it’s power in the form of surfing an ocean wave. It’s here where I can be alone, feel one with the ocean and still encounter its magnificent creatures and changing conditions as another aspect of inspiration for my work.

Of course I also love to fish, free dive and record my experiences and encounters through underwater photography where I can later use these photos as reference in the studio. Photography is a great hobby and tool as it also allows me to accurately recreate my experiences later in the form of an oil painting to share with the rest of the world. One of my other great hobbies is learning, researching and striving for knowledge in all subjects from the history of economics, psychology, all branches of science, cosmology, astronomy and philosophy, as I’m deeply interested in pondering all of the big questions.

I like to question everything including myself and the foundation of our society in an attempt at acquiring an accurate worldview and innovative solutions.

Q:How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?

A: As far back as I can remember I have always been an artist, drawing every chance I could get. My subject matter is directly related to growing up in a fishing family here in South Florida where my Dad was a big inshore fisherman and my grandfather ran a successful offshore charter business aboard the “DO STAY,” a 37-foot Merritt out of Jupiter Inlet for 40 years. I have many fond memories and natural inspirations growing up fishing offshore aboard the “DO STAY” and inshore with my dad.

Since the age of four, my Dad has also taken me lobstering in the Florida Keys every year since then, which also has contributed to my fascination with the unique effects of being underwater had on lighting and color. My fascination with the beauty and rarity of the underwater realm began to escalate when I was around the age of 16. I also began to paint for the first time around this age and immediately began experimenting with underwater game fish scenes, as that’s the type of art I had been exposed to growing up. I then realized that I could actually recreate what I had observed in nature and that no photographer could capture at the time. This idea drove me to progress my newfound talent.

My high school art teacher quickly realized my advanced artistic painting abilities and pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, while the other students had to follow class assignments. So I decided to work on a 6-foot painting depicting an above and below water scene of a tarpon and a pelican fighting over the same baitfish in the FL Keys. I worked on the painting for most the semester and when completed, the school wanted to buy the paining from me and hang it in their main office. They said it would be a great honor and a first sale for me at $200.00. My art teacher advised me not to sell it as it was worth way more then that and the school was trying to take advantage of me. So, I took her advice and didn’t sell it. I’m glad I did as I still have the piece and it’s now worth many thousands of dollars as it was one of my first paintings ever created.

I then attended Ringling College of Art and Design where I received a bachelor’s degree in illustration and fine art. This is where my education really began as they didn’t allow me to paint fish for the first three years of my degree, I wasn’t too fond of the idea at first, but it did help me to develop my own style in the field. It was here that I began to study all of the old great master painters of the past and began to incorporate their painting techniques and apply it to the underwater realm, something they could never have imagined I’m sure.

My senior year I decided to create my entire thesis based on my underwater experiences. So I purchased an underwater video camera and took over well over 50 hours of underwater video that summer and had plenty of material for my thesis. By the end of the year I had created six large oil paintings and an awesome underwater video for my thesis presentation that blew everyone away! I remember the painting professor saying that it was the best thesis display in the whole university!

It was from here that I decided to create Jason Mathias Studios Inc. and put myself out there into the art and fishing world. It wasn’t before long I was featured artist at the (IGFA museum) International Gamefish Association, (CCA) Costal Conservation Association, Bass Pro Shops and many more publications, galleries and museums including the Cornell Museum of American History and cover art recognition in Florida Sport Fishing Magazine.

Q:What goals do you have for your artwork, what does the future hold?

A: My current goal is to continue to do what I love, push the envelope in regards to quality, skillset, uniqueness and continue to raise the bar and value of my work and to increase my clients investments. The future looks bright and I’m very lucky to be doing what I love and to have been given this incredible talent.

Q:Is there a message behind your artwork?

A: My message is clear, to educate the public on the importance and beauty of our oceans and marine life. I let nature speak through me to show others its exquisite coloring, lighting and fascinating complexity and the importance of how where’re all connected on this tiny blue dot.

Q:Is there a theme to your work?

A: The main theme to my work is to portray our planet’s marine life in their natural habitat. Another theme that I tend to stick with when creating my art is to always uphold the integrity, value and quality of my work by keeping it honest, traditional and using top quality materials that will last through the centuries.

I like to think of it as creating a monetary system of value. Paper prints are a lot like creating a paper currency, and the originals are the gold. So in other words an original represents the gold (real money) and the prints represent the printed paper money (fiat, its only worth is in its belief) while limited edition prints are like a paper currency being tied to a limited supply of something like gold.

These days an art buyer has to be very carful when investing in art. He has to make sure that the original art he has purchased isn’t a fake and to not fall for the so-called “original digital art” or “original digital photography,” which technically isn’t the original art that it clams to be. Digital art is still art of course, but in my opinion you can’t have a true original piece of art using digital media. Digital art will only ever exist inside a computer; the file can be inside one computer or millions of computers. The only way to turn a digital piece of art into a real physical piece of art to hang on your wall is by printing it, in which case it has to be a digital print where every print is exactly the same.

A true original piece of art can only be created entirely by a human hand in the physical world in physical form.

Not to mention there’s no soul in an original digital art print as the print is created by a machine. Digital media is a desirable tool for commercialized artists because it’s faster, easier and less work. The computer does most of the work for you; you can alter the entire images color and contrast with the click of a button, not to mention there is no messing up as you can undo any of your mistakes with the click of a button. You can also copy photographs and put digital filters on them to make them look like a painting with the click of a button.

Imagine if the Mona Lisa were a digital print, which would be impossible of course as it would have disintegrated long ago. But if it were, you wouldn’t be able to look upon it and say, “wow Leonardo actually touched this canvas and hand created this actual painting I’m viewing, mixed this paint and sweated over it. You wouldn’t be able to see or slide your fingers against the texture of his actual brush strokes. Yes, it would be cool to have an actual print/photograph of the person Leonardo, but I would argue that it would be much better to have the “original” live person Leonardo in comparison.

Q:What or who (or both) inspires you?

A: My main source of inspiration these days comes from the natural beauty that the ocean’s energy has to offer my perceptions of its exterior reality through my internal senses and imagination. My brain literally runs 24/7 and I have so many inspiring ideas that I have to constantly write all of them down daily.

Q:What has been the hardest project, or what is the hardest aspect of you art?

A: The most difficult aspect to being an underwater gamefish artist is getting your subjects to cooperate. It’s not as easy as setting up a figure model or still life in the studio where you have complete control over lighting, environment and being able to communicate and interact with your subject matter to achieve the exact poses and positions you’re looking for. Gamefish don’t cooperate very well and getting close to them, or having them sit still is another art entirely in itself. Not to mention going out and having to find them in an entire ocean, and not having control over things such as water clarity, sunny days when the opportunity is there, and an interesting environment. Most of the time underwater background environments aren’t very interesting as its just flat water. So you really have to use your imagination to add some interesting elements to the background such as value, color contrast and depth within light itself to make flat blue water appear interesting and translucent. Another challenge is gamefish are very shiny and reflective like painting metal chrome underwater. You also have to be very aware that most gamefish also change their coloring depending on their moods and feeding habits, and to make this even more difficult they are set in a unique lighting environment where all of the light reflections and refractions from the surface dance and wrap around the form and anatomy of your subject matter. You also have to know the exact anatomy, proportions and behaviors of every species in the ocean, which is a science in its own right. So these are but just a few of the challenges facing gamefish artists that most other artists don’t have to face.

Q:What brings you the most satisfaction or sense of accomplishment?

A: Thinking back to when I was a high school and college student, I never would have imagined that my art would be sold around the world, hanging in museums and galleries with the other big names out there that I’ve looked up to growing up. And now, I too have also had grade school kids, high school and college students come up to me at shows and tell me that they chose to write about me in their paper assignment on who they look up to and admire. This gives me a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I too have an impact inspiring the next generation. In this way, I see all of my hard work directly having a positive impact on the world. This positive impact will far outlast my life, in which case I will in a sense become immortal through my fine art painting, which will continue to inspire through the ongoing centuries that they continue to exist.

A well executed oil painting can last well over 800 years, this in itself is also a satisfying accomplishment knowing that I have hand created something of great value that will last that long.

You can contact Jason or check out more of his work at www.jasonmathias.com

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