Hello! Today we are rolling out our second interview from our artist interview series! Below is a recent interview with the incredibly talented David Greenhalgh of Green Phoenix Relics. David is an award-winning mixed media artist who works and lives in Los Angeles, California. He transforms vintage found objects and cast-offs into stunning works of art. Look at the intricate details of the artwork below! What an incredible way to repurpose things.
Uncommon Canvas: When did you start making art?
David: Having been brought up in a family of “Creatives” in Southern California, as far back as I can remember I was surrounded by people who were constantly making beautiful objects: My dad painted, made stained glass art and worked with photography while my mother made jewelry and shell ornaments/frames/baskets which she then sold in her gift shop in San Juan Capistrano. Our family also participated in The Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach, which was a great way to see all the local artisan’s different work. Besides my mom & dad, my mother’s sister worked as an animator for an Oscar-winning animation director and my brother designed surf clothing. The cool thing about being exposed to so many different ways in which to express oneself creatively was that I learned (and was encouraged) from a young age to explore any kind of artistic expression that piqued my interest. I think that’s why I enjoy working in 3-dimensional Mixed Media, because I get to incorporate almost anything I find interesting into my work. So, to answer your question, I’ve been creating since I was a kid.
Uncommon Canvas: What are your favorite materials to use?
I definitely lean towards a core base of favorite materials when I create, but I never want to feel pigeonholed into any specific set of creative rules. Some of my favorite media to work with would be mosaic tile, vintage/recycled found objects, lampwork beads, jewelry components and wood, but those are just a few. What really gets me excited is when I’m able to incorporate unique or unusual elements. I’m currently working on a piece made of wood and mosaic tile, but I am also using about 40-50 recycled Botox vials that I have cleaned out and then re-filled with brightly colored fine-grain sand. I re-sealed the vials and will attach them upside down so you can see the colors through the clear glass bottoms.
(As a side note: David has a really good story about one of his pieces that was inspired by a comment our current president made in regards to women. We wanted to tell the story behind it because it is hilarious but since we have families viewing this website with kids, we will direct the adults to his website to learn more. Please visit his website to guess which piece it is! Or find him on Instagram.
Uncommon Canvas: What inspires you when making art?
David: I am a huge fan of antiques and unique vintage items (I also have a large collection of antique figural corkscrews and wine tools from all over the world). I love stumbling across some interesting vintage finds at an estate sale or swap meet that has long since faded from its original glory, but you can still see beauty there. When this happens, my imagination immediately goes into overdrive thinking of all the ways I might possibly bring it back to life. I did a whole series of makeovers on antique radiant heaters, which is what people used in the early to mid- 1900s to heat their homes. Radiant heaters were stand-alone pieces that were quite ornate and built to last. When I found a unique one, I first removed the cinder bricks and then built in a wood backing to fill with vibrant mosaic tile. They exist now as functional art pieces which you can fill with candles or place in front of a fireplace that is not being used. They also have been used as part of a mini meditation shrine or in a yoga space. I also did a series of pieces made from beautifully ornate antique grate covers/registers. Every piece I make takes time, and while I’m in the middle of my creative process, I always seem to get ideas for new projects. I have two Art Wreaths that were inspired by a few vintage lampwork beads I found. The small handful of yellow, black, and white vintage beads led me to buy about a thousand more complimentary beads/crystals and mosaic tile sets, which I then spent 6 weeks constructing.
Uncommon Canvas: How has the pandemic impacted you as an artist?
David: If I didn’t have my art to focus on every day during the pandemic, I think I would have been lost and would’ve needed to double up on my antidepressants, to say the least. I have some artist-friends who stopped creating when the pandemic hit and kind of lost motivation, but for me, I’m so grateful to have this gift, this “thing” that I can focus all my energies into. I have honestly worked on my art every single day since the initial lockdown, and I actually feel like I have been as constructive as I possibly can during this strange time in our history. I mean, this has been a year! As a country we have not only dealt with the pandemic, but with issues of racial equality/inequality, gun violence, voting rights, the BLM movement, widespread economic downturns and unemployment… I mean, living in a country where our president refuses to condemn white supremacy, it’s CRAZY. Most of my art is not political, but I have loved seeing all the artists out there expressing themselves through their art as a way to voice what they see happening where we live.
Uncommon Canvas: What advice can you offer to other artists?
The best advice I can give to other artists during life’s journey is to always listen to your own creative voice. Whatever your artistic vision is, follow that. Don’t let outside opinions (especially people with unsolicited advice) demagnetize your creative compass.
Check out more of David’s artwork at Green Phoenix Relics: http://www.greenphoenixrelics.com. Thank you, for sharing these words with us, David. You are very inspiring!