Miniature People Stuck in Surreal Oil Paintings

Coffee and Donuts

Laguna Beach, California-based artist Scott Moore loves sharing his creative process. Visit his online gallery, click into one of his images, and you'll see this sentence below each one: “If you would like to see the step-by-step process Scott used to design and paint this image, just Click Here.” But, why does he do it?”I put the step-by-step images and words on my site to document my work and to share the process,” he tells us. “One of my college instructors told me ‘If you ever feel you have something to share that would benefit others, don't keep it locked up in your head.' I get emails from all over the world, thanking me for my step-by-steps.”

Take a look at Moore's retro oil paintings and you'll notice that they have a surreal feeling to them. Moore uses scale to create drama – he adds miniature people into his scenes, making us believe that they're stuck not just in the past, but in a world that will forever engulf them.

We got in touch with the painter to ask him how he comes up with his ideas. Read that interview, below, while enjoying his wonderful work.

High Bread
Milkman's Here!

Can you please explain your creative process? How do you come up with these fantastic scenes?
My paintings begin in a number of ways. Sometimes I find an object that I want to paint. I'll put it in the sun, study its light and shadows, and come up with an arrangement of accompanying objects to tell a story. Other times I come up with a title that has a double meaning or at least it tells me something that would be fun to illustrate. When a client comes to me to commission a painting, then I will go through an interview process with him, finding out something particular about his family, his work or his hobbies.

I'll spend some time jotting down words that relate to either the object or the client (if it is a commissioned work), and then do word associations until the words start becoming images to me.

Other times, I go onto eBay and type words into the search box. I look at the objects that pop up and ultimately, I'll come up with a story that I want to tell.

Sell Phones
Ice Cream Man

Your paintings are photo-realistic but there's a fantasy element to them. What kind of stories are you telling?
I'm telling stories of my childhood, of my teenage years and also of my dreams. Since my dreams always have had elements of me flying around my neighborhood (both childhood and today), I tend to make the perspective of many of my paintings come from above. I'm looking down on my images, giving me a more intimate view of the story I'm telling.

Obviously, when I work on a commissioned painting, I'm telling someone else's story, but with my personal perspective. There are no rules in my paintings other than to be true to the light source. If I want to float an object in the air, or make it bigger than life, then I'll do it without a second thought. The dreamlike quality of some of my images is there because I have followed the rules of dreams, which there are none.

Walking the Dog
California Highways

How has your work evolved over the years?
I started out painting exclusively in watercolor. The imagery was very traditional, but almost always with a human element. I'm a member of the American Watercolor Society in New York, the National Watercolor Society in Los Angeles and Watercolor West, which emphasizes artists who paint in transparent watercolor. I still paint in watercolor, and just like my oils, I discontinued my traditional imagery in the early 1990's.

Money Game
American Railways

Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
Although Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper are my favorite artists, I really don't look to them for inspiration. The only watercolor workshop I attended was in 1978 in Woodstock, New York. It was the most inspirational week of my artist life. John Pike, a very creative painter and personality, let me know that I should abandon my job as a graphic designer and become a full time painter.

I've always felt that one should look to one's self for the answers to one's art. Since my work is about telling a story, and since my imagination seems to have no limits, it's pretty easy for me to reflect inside my head for the solutions to each work.

Aloha Wakiki

Are there any interesting stories you'd like to share?
In the early 1990's, I had been alternating between my traditional imagery and my surreal paintings. Each year (for the past 32 years), I'd exhibit my work at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, a two month show in July and August. It was early July and I had just completed a surreal watercolor titled “Evaporated Milk” (cows floating out of a can of evaporated milk), and I felt it was time to show the general public what my surreal images looked like. Although I was still painting my traditional watercolors, when this image was completed, I took it down to my exhibit space at the Festival of Arts and hung it with my other work. I hung in on the wall and stuck the price tag on the wall next to it. As I backed away to see how it looked hanging next to its traditional counterparts, two women looked at my asking price and gasped “He wants $1,500 for that?” As my heart sunk with their comments, a man standing behind me whispered over my shoulder, “Did she say that painting was only $1,500?” He bought it on the spot and the beginning of my whimsical painting career was off to a great beginning.

Little Italy

Finally, how do you stay creative?
The real problem is trying to stop the creative process. It isn't something that just happens in my studio or when I'm interviewing a client for a commission. My mind is whirling 24/7, twisting everything I hear and see into out of scale entertainment. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I rarely can get back to sleep. I begin to think of the previous day and start playing word games with every image that comes to my mind. The challenge of composing a handful of elements into a dramatic, light struck image, is continually bombarding my head. I know that I am very fortunate to have been blessed with my artistic abilities, so I don't complain about having a mind that doesn't ever turn off its creative process. I welcome the challenge and look forward to my next image.

Thank you for the interview, Scott! What inspiring work.

Scott Moore's website

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