ANDREW M GRANT
"I loved magic as a child and seeing a great work of art in person, brings those same feelings back to the surface."
Andrew Maurice Grant was born in 1983 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He spent the first 3 years of his life in Hanover, Jamaica, and eventually migrated to the United States. He is currently residing in Orlando, FL, as a full time artist and likes the idea of residing in the state closest to his original home.
Grant's mother always had art in their home - photography, figurines, illustrations and paintings -that leaned toward realism, representations of blackness and the female form. Grant was always creative and showed that early on and besides drawing he ventured into other creative outlets that involved writing and recording music. His late teens found him returning to what first captivated his imagination, drawing. In school, no serious art instruction was pursued and it remained only a hobby, along with writing. He subsequently attended the University of Central Florida and went on to obtain a degree in Communications. Grant never seriously pursued art since at that time, he didn’t know of anyone making a living doing traditional art and accepted
the stigma of ‘starving artist’.
This all changed a few years out of college once he found a local non profit art school that taught traditional painting and drawing techniques, one discovery led to another and the drive to become part of an art world with realism at its core, became a serious pursuit. Grant’s earliest memories are those of his mother, grandmother and aunt taking care of him and when reflecting on the fact that women gave him the most support and encouragement early in his life, the motivation and subject matter in his artwork became women, primarily African American women. He first used oil paint in December of 2009 and ten years later, after studying with Terry Norris and Carol Broman in 2009 and 2011, he set forth to master his craft. Grant held his first solo show in February of 2019 where he presented his first body of work which explored his ongoing Elements theme including Earth, fire, air and water. The attributes of these elements are coupled with figurative or portrait compositions using symbolism and a subtle narrative. The show was a success and led to an invitation to another solo exhibition at the Appleton Museum of Art in 2021. He plans to dive even deeper into the Elements theme and introduce new perspectives to the series. Prior to his solo exhibition, Grant would participate in local and national exhibitions and was able to receive recognition from local blogs and papers. He was awarded in local shows and recently his painting titled, “Spring” was a finalist in the yearly international competition held by The Art Renewal Center.
"Quality art never truly goes out of fashion."
Andrew explores sexuality, femininity and motherhood in a gentle and tender way. His art speaks to you through subtle glances and unspoken words. There is an apparent realism induced with symbolism conveying deeper meanings. Two women picking petals off a flower, as if engaging in a game of ‘loves me, loves me not’ but with an intense and somewhat intimidating seriousness. One of the women with her eyes gently closed, making a secret wish, while behind them appears a bird, possibly symbolising their hopes and desires. The other seems to look at you as if you’ve interrupted an intimate moment or maybe even beckoning you to join in. There are desires and mysteries in all of Grant’s mesmerizing pieces, depicted with deliberate looks and precise positioning. Truly astonishing.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. To remain honest and authentic with what they truly want to express. If artists continue to do this, they’ll keep a beautiful balance of expressions that have no choice but to resonate with viewers. We all are in this world sharing similar experiences so if the art reflects this, there isn’t much more the artist needs to do.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. In reference to art, I would say copying a picture of the Walt Disney character, Goofy, from a cereal box at the age of nine and declaring when done, that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I still have that drawing and it’s signed and dated, Andrew ‘92.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you? How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. I was always interested in drawing as a child but I became seriously interested in learning oil painting at 26. I met my first instructor by the name of Terry Norris in 2009 and took about 3 workshops with her. I continued to attend life drawing sessions along with drawing and painting classes at Crealde School of Art. That suited me for about a year, but I knew I needed more rigorous training. I sought out my last instructor and now friend, Carol Broman and I ended up relocating 200 miles to Fort Myers, FL, to study full-time with her for about four months.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. As most kids, I was first fascinated by comics and cartoons and did my best to copy them in my sketchbook. My mother had art in the home and day after day, for years, I would see paintings in which the artist used realism to tell their story. I would say, it was a culmination of seeing realistic imagery daily and being introduced to rigorous art history in college that helped formulate my taste for different time periods in art. As a whole, the art created in the 19th century is currently my favorite, however, I have dozens of favorites that were created in centuries prior, that I hold in high regard as well. I’m very much into art history and like connecting the dots to learn how artists have spoken to and inspired each other visually throughout the ages.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. What I love, my culture, my history, my people. If I can express that visually, someone will understand and appreciate it for what it is. I’m fine with viewers finding a sort of escapism with my work. I don’t place my subjects in contemporary settings so that I can attempt to have a bit of timelessness to them.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I have to make a strong effort to be organized. Being a bit more efficient with that could have saved time in the past with the production of more work.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. In 2011 I quit my job at the time, to relocate, so that I could study full-time with Carol Broman. She lived over 200 miles away, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive back and forth to study, even on a part-time basis, so I had to take the leap. Even though it was going to be for a limited time, I took the opportunity to go study and eventually moved back when my resources for art education reached an end. I got back into the workforce but continued to study on my own and apply what I learned consistently. Since becoming a full-time artist, the work I do is treated like any other job I’ve had, so it’s always a trade of the most valuable thing we all have, time.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I’m influenced and inspired by well crafted art regardless of medium, however, I gravitate towards figurative work. African sculpture with its bold qualities, remains an inspiration as well. One of my favorite sculptures is titled, The Bronze Head of Ife, created in the 1300s. If I had to name an artist that influenced the dedication to the human figure I’ve developed while learning to paint, it would be William Bouguereau, a French painter from the 19th century.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. In the beginning when you’re trying to better your craft and build a solid foundation to work from, I would say yes, it can be lonely. As time goes on, you’ll find a tribe of individuals that mirror your aesthetic. From there you can deepen these relationships either in person or online and I’ve personally done both. I honestly don’t mind the solitude when working, it’s good to be left alone with your work long enough for it to be truly self-reflective. I take it a step further and usually don’t have any music or sounds playing while painting or drawing. I’ve found that it allows deep concentration and better decision making for me, personally.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. Being with family and friends, listening to music, reading, and learning useless facts. I don’t
watch much tv but do enjoy watching a good movie from time to time.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I haven’t developed any strong philosophies in relation to art that I can verbalize yet. In my art history classes in college, I was first introduced to the many different viewpoints on what art is and isn't. Since then, I’ve seen thousands of paintings and have been painting seriously for 10 years, so I know what I like to see in figurative paintings. I try to find visual poetry when representing something realistically in a work of art. Currently most of my work involves nudity so contemplating what is in good taste, comes into play often. Studying great art and being sure to visit museums to see art in person is a must, if you hope to really understand paint quality and craftsmanship.
Q. What does "success" mean to you?
A. Being able to live how I want to live without apology and providing for my family.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Happiness comes from within and it’s a great feeling to help someone without any expectation of anything in return.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Take care of your health and be kind. The two go hand in hand. In relation to art, I would say that the journey of learning and the pursuit of mastery provides the most satisfaction, so be sure to slow down and savor that.