SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Dave Reale
by Ashley Inguanta

This is part of a series of interviews with the artists who illustrate the wonderful stories we publish.

How would you describe your art?

My art tends to generally be very frenetic. I like the idea of the viewer not being able to focus on one particular part immediately. I like when the eye does not know what to focus on first. For me that's the way to really see a piece of art, when you take into consideration every inch of space. Though on the other hand I've done paintings that are purely color, no words or images. Even then a lot of times in the beginning I'll lay certain things down that I know will get painted over but I'll still do it anyway. I also tend to use anything I have on hand. I am not a paint snob. I started using oils but they took too long to dry and I felt like I couldn't go over things as quick as I wanted. I'll use anything from ordinary house paint to spray paint, acrylics, charcoal, really anything I can grab and use to my advantage.

Tell me about your process of illustrating the stores here at SmokeLong? How do the words help shape your images?

Many times with SmokeLong I'll be asked if I would like to have a painting accompany a story, but when I do create one specifically for a piece I like to think of it in a very abstract way. For instance, for certain emotions I'll use different colors or different types of ways of applying the paint. I might use a brush to convey one thing or I might scrape the paint on with really whatever I have on hand, say a chisel or even things like a piece of rope or wood. Again it all depends on the story.

What small details of life inspire you?

Usually it's when things go against conventional ways of thinking. It could just be someone other people stare at because they look different in whatever way. I am interested in those awkward reactions. That moment when people are baffled by things that others see as normal. I also like overhearing random conversations because I have no idea of what the backstory is or why these things are being talked about but they are still fascinating to me. In this way it's a lot like my paintings because sometimes I'll paint words or random numbers or vague images, anything, so that when someone sees it they might not understand it but hopefully they will still be interested by it.

If you could team up with one artist who would it be? Together what would you create?

If I could team up with any artist it would be Cy Twombly. His work fascinates me because it seems so effortless. One of my favorite reactions to art in general is when people say "A kid could do that." For me that is one of the highest compliments that could be given to an artist. I say this because with his paintings there are no restrictions. It is purely his vision, and it can sometimes give the appearance of being trivial or meaningless, but it was his vision. Together I would like to create a really big piece, something really along his style. I like that he usually used a white background and yet what was put on the canvas had so much energy that you didn't need anything else. My work tends to have very little negative space, so really concentrating on getting into his aesthetic would be nice.

Tell me about the feeling you get immediately after you complete a piece of art?

Well for me it can sometimes take a little while for a painting to be absolutely finished. I've completed some in a few hours and yet with others I'll assume I'm finished and yet a few days later or even weeks something will seem off about it. It could be that I'll just go up and swipe a piece of charcoal or paint marker across or I'll totally wipe out a section with paint and leave it at that. When it is actually finished I feel content yet I do not like looking at it anymore. When I finish something I'll usually give it away or turn it around so that I can't see it. I feel that if my finished paintings are around when I start new projects that they are always influencing me and I like to start totally new. Although I do recycle certain themes and markings in my work, it's the sense of starting over that makes it interesting.

Are you working on any new projects?

Right now I've been getting back into working on wood and reclaimed doors and windows. Living in New Orleans, there are a lot of things that just sit around or are left on the curb so more often then not on a walk home I'll bring a piece of a shelf or an old window with me and just paint on that. I like it because it adds yet another element that, though its obviously handmade, seems natural, and I like that contrast between what I paint and what it is being painted on.

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