I am Joshua Greenfield, a Canadian Artist living in the core of Toronto with connections all over South West Ontario.
I truly am I view art as my calling and am largely a self-taught artist. “Every artist was first an amateur” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Salvador Dali inspires me in his subliminal use of shapes and subject placement to create political messages. Vincent Van Gogh for his strength of showing emotion through color and brushstrokes and Andy Warhol to especially teach the development of “Icon” like portraits deeply inspired my “Champions Queen”(2018). Expressive Illustration-Painting is where I find my home in the genre of developing my art.
I was born in Three Hills Alberta but grew up mostly in Saskatchewan until graduating high school in 2006. Spending time all over Canada, from Alberta to Quebec, gave me a rich appreciation for the history of Canada, our terroir in soil with wine and art in culture. I have been in the Toronto area for around ten years. I have taken art all the way through High School and took specific art courses both in art theory and practicum while getting my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Athabasca University in 2011. He is always looking to perfect his craft. Seminars are also a great way I try to keep my inspiration flowing. “Creativity takes courage,” Henry Matisse.
Hey Josh! You say you view art and being an artist as a calling. How did it all start for you, and what are your earliest memories of doing art?
Josh: I have always struggled with my calling. I have worked in many sectors from retail to the legal industry as a Paralegal and fell in love with the Wine Industry and worked with the government here in Ontario. Art however was something I could just never get over since I was 16 years old. The idea of creating paintings has always been a centering aspect of my personality. What Art gave to me was my most natural drive.
When I see the beauty I stop, I want to study it. I love to create it. At the source, my total focus and greatest happiest space are when I am creating something. Painting does that for me. I view creative power as a type of mental process which takes a certain amount of insight, passion for expressing your emotion through the foundations of art. An example of that is by reflecting light throughout a painting in order to show emotion, lifelike qualities of a subject or building depth are other results.
When I was in high school, I decided to not take my second course in Chemistry which I hated and I would take Art instead. I never regretted it. I viewed that time when I was 17 as a turning point when I learned my purpose. An experience where I helped create a mural in my small town of Saskatchewan of Tigerlily’s was the best and most fruitful class I took. My first Art teacher opened me up to Post Impressionist painters like Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali amongst others and I was hooked.
Many many artists helped me as well develop my lover affair for subject matter that brought forth Expressionist ideas reflect time, politics, and emotion.
Tell us about your artwork, style, subject matter etc.
Josh: For me when I was in university where I completed my Arts Degree in Political Science. I took a lot of theory in art courses. I was at the time very inspired by Post Modern Art like Duchamp and Mondrian as well as Rothko. I wanted to understand the whole idea of experience art. I eventually went more back to being a colorist who follows aspects of Chiaroscuro ( the Italian theory of light). I am a strong follower of history and politics. I love my artwork to embody figurative subject matter that can be taken in more than one way. I like to reflect the Abstract idea that shapes help to communicate emotion. An example of that is the use of subject matter formed in triangles when placed together. “A Balance of Power” 2019 is a great example of that. Where there is the use of the three major triangle elements in the painting.
“Novelty is seldom the essential… make a subject better from its intrinsic nature.”Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (TOP 23 QUOTES BY HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | A-Z Quotes (azquotes.com) Visited 08-21-2021) I tend to follow Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists most closely. I fell in love with their attachment to culture, advertising in a limited technological time, and expressive quality to the subject matter. My top three were Lautrec, J.C. Leyendecker ( Illustrator of Arrow Shirts) and Gustav Klimt. So the intrinsic nature of the subject is always a deep part of what I seek to reflect on my subject matter. I like to take natural occurrences or subjects and add an imagination that makes the onlooker create an emotional attachment to the subject I reflect on.
Two examples are below:
How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Josh: I have three main stages that I follow when creating art. I am huge for images so I am constantly taking photos of what I find fascinating or finding images online. I always ask permission on Instagram if I find another artists’ work fascinating to use first and get permission. I love the use of juxtaposition of objects in a way to create a whole brand new image.
I often use a digital projector so I can manipulate images especially when the canvasses are over 32 inches in size. Digital projectors are often used heavily in murals from experience. I love to do my own studies of subjects that are smaller but I do not do live art with live subjects. The way my vision is set up is by contrasts so I like to exacerbate the light and dark of subject matter to get the essential lines of the subject. I then take about a week to study the best color mutability. I very rarely do art on a whim as I did in art classes in high school or university. I love working with the color at the last stage and often take my time in the actual painting. I am a true color enthusiast. I want to experience what I paint. See it first in my mind then keep creating the piece.
What is a day of working like in your home studio?
Josh: It is never the same! The subject matter can vary from water lilies to homoerotic art and all the way back to Roman mythology. I strongly believe in the Art Nouveau construct of having connected my emotion to the subject matter I am creating. Many people I have shown for or clients I have had, presented to me that I do not just do one thing. I take what Lautrec put out very seriously. The subject matter has an intrinsic value that must be seen. I need to reflect on that. So especially when I am hunting for subject matter I am very particular to bring out the innate value of the subject.
My favorite days in my studio are playing with colors. I try to stay to primary palettes of Acrylics most of the time. I often use charcoal first and when developing my subject matter then move to either Acrylics and or Oils.
An example of steps two and three is below:
The color is what makes the outline and brings life into the painting. I must always follow that mantra when I am painting.
You say the purpose of your life is to inspire people about life from my paintings. Is there a message you are trying to send with each piece, or is it something else?
Josh: I think we often forget how we can expand and enhance our experience as people. When I attend an event or go out on a regular errand for the day. It is the unknown that makes the day better. The ability of wind to show the pond of waterlilies moving and the color dripping the different colors due to that action. A woman running in the park during prom season and the tulle reflecting the soft dusk-like light.
Life can be hard, art is not always the loud booming expressive in the gallery ( which I love by the by) it can also be like Monet capturing the subtle moments of hot days at the Cote d’Azur, where the blues of the water are Vermillion.
My message to people through my art is simple, allow the observer inside you to feel the emotions from the creative powers around you. The aura involved in art is a deep part of my practice. Sometimes I use abstract shapes to create a response from the reflection of natural forms.
Tell me more about how astrology impacts your art and life.
Josh: When I was seeking to know more about myself. It was my lifeline. We are more than our Astrology but interesting clues are there for people if they search for them. I am Taurus Sun Sign with a Moon in Libra and Ascendant in Leo. I have a lot of cardinal and fixed energy. Both Taurus and Libra are Venusian signs. So they are ruled by Venus. The whole purpose of Venus is about beauty and relationships. Art is very driven by both. The greatest purpose I have found is to create beauty. I have always been heavily entranced by how beauty is both cerebral and connecting to human beings in a positive way. (Salvador Dali and I have a lot of similar charts in our Astrological Chart, always thought was intriguing.)
What are some of the issues you’ve encountered over the years?
Josh: I grew up in a very conservative household, which I definitely feel has stifled me with my art. Many people in the culture surrounding me trivialized it and that angered me. If we had more kids doing art and developing themselves creatively our streets and culture would be much more healthy. Art is thankfully an empowering gift to everyone. Being legitimate in Art is the start of death to your creativity. It is something I struggle with all the time.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Josh: Every piece I create is a new connection to what I can do. I had a client this past winter who wanted a type of collage on subject matter I have found difficult to do. They were incredibly happy with the result. I was empowered by my ability to marry many different elements in one painting. I love to push my limits. Even when I fail I know I have grown in skill and take those lessons to do better next time.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Josh: Yes all the time. When I went to a goth party with some friends. I took some really cool photos and the result was doing a painting of my friend who really fell in love with the work. It is totally situational sometimes. But then I go back to my regular work that is more driven and intrigued by mixing conventions of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Post Modern Expressionism. I cannot define the reason why I do the artwork. Which tells me that there is something very ingrained in me to do it.
My first goal is to experience art, then reflect that experience to others which will show the ingrained need for art. Without art, the history books will reflect a very boring picture.
What are you working on right now, and what can we expect in the future?
Josh: Right Now I am doing a lot of works that are based on the subject matter of “Dapper”. I have had a lot of demand for portraits. However, I am hoping to get further in my Aura development of paintings that hold tribal and engrained rudimentary elements of past cultures in the painting. I am hoping to evolve that subject matter further.
I am always a student of art. I am emerging. So I look for more exposure and hope to create inspiration in those that see my work. The last piece I show is the type of artwork I hope to do more of this fall 2021. I greatly appreciate your time in doing this interview with me. Thank you so much!