Interview with Artist Russell McCall

Russell McCall
Sympathy Line

APM WordPress: Russell, Thank you for taking a moment to talk about your work. What really struck me about your work is the way it blurs the line between film, photography and abstract oil painting. I noticed your background is in film production. Could you tell us a little more about this?

Russell: My passion for film and art have been with me since I was a child.  As I got older, I realized that film and art both were mediums that could tell very personal narratives.  I would have to say that I probably saw too much television and way too many films growing up, but when I saw one like Dog Day Afternoon, Memento, or La Jetee, I was astounded how a story could be told in such memorable ways.  I loved that films like these could have so much energy, emotion, and beauty so I thought, “why not try to write and direct my own films?”  After earning an MFA from Chapman University, I realized that I learned a lot – besides getting trained on lighting and composing shots, I also learned that making your own movies is pretty tough.  My appreciation for fine art – specifically abstract art, has grown since film school, and has led me to where I am now:  telling stories through art – whether it be a blurred photograph or an abstract landscape.

APM WordPress: Tell me more about the process and materials of your work.

Russell: Photographing normal, everyday things, as well as the things in life that I care much about (such as our dogs) has allowed me to capture moments in ways that normally wouldn’t translate very well through paintings.  The essence of the life in the moment of a photo sort of disappears if I attempt to create a painting out of it.  The paintings that I have done recently seem more gratifying when they come straight from my imagination, as opposed to the photos being from noticing what’s going on around me at that time.

The abstract photos (“Drive Blind” and “Sympathy Line”) are part of an ongoing series that I hope to continue as long as I am motivated by this kind of artwork and theme.  The series represents the abstract qualities of my outlook on the world.  It also exemplifies how things are constantly changing in life.  No matter how much we try to freeze a particular moment or thought, the subject will continue to either  alter, evolve, or vacillate whether we like it or not.

APM WordPress: This makes me think about our ever expanding universe. Are there other artists, ideas, or fields of interest (such as science, literature or music) that influence your work? Can you describe how they influence you?

Russell: I have a deep appreciation of all innovators throughout history.  Literature seems to move me the most however.  Authors such as Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and J.D. Salinger have written some great stories that I have been drawn towards.  The characters in books like Fahrenheit 451, Breakfast of Champions, and Catcher in the Rye all seemed to know that they were up against a destiny they didn’t care for, and the ways they revealed themselves in those stories were quite memorable.  Holden’s character has a bit of an impact on my recent photos.  “People never notice anything” is one quote that, in the back of mind, inspired me to take on the blurred photos.  In a way, I want to freeze these things in life so we can take notice.

APM WordPress: Who are some of the artists that influence your work?

Russell: I have been influenced by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon, and Albert Giacometti  to name a few.  Their various styles have resonated somehow deep inside me, and their unique way of expressing themselves is something that I strive for, myself, through my own artwork.  One quote from Francis Bacon that I love is: “All painting is an accident.  But it’s not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.”

APM WordPress: Thank you for sharing your work with us at and Artist Portfolio Magazine. We have your work featured in our Abstract Art Exhibit at  and of course, here in our blog; is there somewhere else we can see your work, such as an artist website or an upcoming art show?

Russell: Thank you, too.  It’s been a pleasure to be able to share some of my thoughts and some of my work.  I don’t have any upcoming shows, so the best way you can see my current work is through the following websites:  

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