By Ben Goodale
A dusty light emits a soft hum as the canvas perched inside the artist’s garage is carefully marked with a variation of beautiful colors, each being chosen with care to harmonize and eventually form a finished masterpiece. The artist is Parker Wells, a fourth-year art student at Humboldt State University. He is an avid lover of all of the arts, and makes paintings and graphite and ink drawings.
Gina Tuzzi, Wells’ professor for all four of his painting classes at HSU, has seen his progression and development throughout their time spent together.
“I think that technically he has become a lot more proficient, but also I can see that he has stepped into his own voice and is starting to explore his own vision,” Tuzzi says. “This is the ultimate time of witnessing him blossom as an artist.”
In experimenting with different styles, he has found his own niche in the world of art and had many important influences along the way.
“I like the more kind of detailed, weird, visionary, abstract nature of a lot of the art that’s along with the festival scene nowadays,” Wells says.
The festival and underground music scene is exploding in the western world, and it has had an impact on Wells’ paintings and lifestyle. This is represented in the abstract and psychedelic nature of his work.
“The music is a big influence of mine,” he remarks. “It’s cool trying to emulate the same experience through visual patterns or representation.”
Wells has also gained influence from visual artists that have a similar style of complex shapes and symmetrical geometry. Some of these artists are David Choong Lee, Jonathan Soulter, Randall Roberts and Mario Martinez.
As a project for his advanced painting class, he created a piece based on “sound and vision.” For this piece, he had to take a musical influence and translate that onto canvas in the form of a representative work of art.
This was right down his alley, and he chose electronic artist Dave Tipper due to his complex and expansive range of sounds.
After being a fan of his music for a long while, Wells finally got the chance to see Tipper perform live in Colorado this past summer at a music festival called Sonic Bloom. Seeing Tipper’s performance there he gained a whole new perspective on the music and could see why so many people gathered to listen and follow that specific artist across the country to various shows.
“Somehow, he will be on stage and it feels like he is doing the most important thing ever,” says Wells. “He creates an energy that the crowd can really tune in to.”
The main influence for this painting was definitely the music of Tipper, but Wells also gained influence from black and white ink doodles that he had previously done. He started the painting with lines of charcoal along the canvas, and says that these were more used as suggestions for where the painting was going instead of strict guidelines. He describes the canvas looking very chaotic when it was just these traces without defining color.
As he began adding paint to the canvas, he would set the desired vibe by tuning in to the music of Tipper. A crucial part of the process for this painting was choosing which colors to use, and Wells made those decisions with an appropriately related method.
“I would start by turning on some Tipper and then be like, ‘This song sounds really purple to me’, or ‘This song sounds really green,’” says Wells.
After choosing what color to add to the painting, he would go over some of the outlines in that specific color or create whole new shapes on the canvas. In doing this over a period of time there became a gradually increasing cacophony of shapes and colors that formed into a spectacularly unique work of art.
“It wasn’t very planned,” Wells admits. “I had a vague idea of what it could look like in my head, but then it came out looking super different.”
Something that he had to take into account when doing this painting was to make sure he had enough time allocated to complete it. He especially had to take this into account because he went to the state of Colorado to see the artist Tipper himself play a show during the time he was given to complete the painting. The painting was due soon after he was scheduled to return from out of state, so he decided to devote a lot of time to it and finish it before he embarked on the trip.
Gianni Arthur, Wells’ roommate, says that he would notice him working on his art late in the night more often than not. He attributes this to the deadlines of having a piece of art due, and also the flow that happens when doing a piece of art, where you get so caught up in the process of it all that you forget to check the time.
Wells successfully completed his visual representation of Tipper’s music for his advanced painting class and as seen in the picture it turned out vibrant and full of varying geometry.
“It feels like his art now is very ‘him’, he’s researching what it is in the external world that influences his creative process,” says his art professor Gina Tuzzi. “There is something very rhythmic and lyrical about the work that he makes, so it was a really beautiful combination of elements.”
Wells continues his pursuit of art to this day, and is continually influenced by incoming waves of astounding and mind-melting music.