This story was featured in the March 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Viewers might find it a bit puzzling to categorize paintings by Randy Van Dyck. In fact, so does the artist. When it comes time to enter competitions, Van Dyck sometimes thinks a painting could be entered in the landscape, still-life, or wildlife categories. Birds, playing cards, and the colorful Idaho sky all inhabit his canvases—often all in the same artwork. The Boise-based painter is currently working on a series featuring birds. It all began, he says, with a piece entitled BAD APPLE, which featured a marsh wren that seemed to be screaming from its perch on an apple that floated against a pale blue sky. Recently another work in the series was juried into the International Guild of Realism’s exhibition and sale.
At the core of Van Dyck’s artwork is the exploration of the relationship between language and visual art, he says. He likes to pore over words and phrases that can form visual puns and then portray them on canvas with a dash of surrealism. One such work, titled CLUB MED, depicts a torn playing card—the three of clubs—with a Band-Aid across a jagged tear. In another, titled FIELD STUDY, a bird sits atop a drawing depicting a bird, which in turn floats above a field.
Van Dyck studied illustration at the Art Institute of Seattle. He says his work has evolved since then from traditional landscape and wildlife paintings to his current blending of genres. Ideas for the genre-bending paintings find him, Van Dyck says. He may be reading a book, watching a movie, or in a conversation with friends when words and phrases just come to him. He quickly jots them down on a napkin or scrap of paper, and eventually his notes land in a file folder. Today, that folder is bursting with ideas—ones that will take a lifetime to paint. “I want my paintings to portray a sense of humor. I also want the work to be more than fun—both interesting and thought-provoking,” Van Dyck says. “I want to challenge the viewer to step back and see things in a different way than they are used to seeing them.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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