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An Interview With An Artist: Matt D’Arco
8/31/2012 | 7:42 PM

Matt D’Arco is a talented artist and student who is currently attending Salem State University for Entrepreneurship. Matt enjoys history and considers himself old fashioned. He wishes to one day own a tourist railroad museum where people could come and see the history in motion rather than in static display. His goal is to preserve the machines of the past and help spread the love of locomotives to the public. He wishes to do this so that the future generations have a chance to experience and love the world of locomotives as much as he does.




The Grapevine Times:
When did you start drawing?


Matt D’Arco:
I started drawing before I was even in kindergarten. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember.



TGT:
Why did you start drawing?


Matt:
I have always loved trains and loved realism ever since I was a little kid. So one day when I was little I decided to draw the model train I had. My dad thought it was good so I kept doing it.

TGT:
What kind of drawings do you do?


Matt:
I draw mainly technical things such as trains or machines. I love the realism and I find machines to have the most of it. As for the medium, I use graphite pencils.


TGT:
Do you do any other kinds of drawings?


Matt:
I can draw just about anything I want. I have drawn people before and also landscapes so no, it is not all just trains like many people think, but I do focus on trains and will continue to because they are my passion. I have experimented with color and I am even experimenting with the ‘dry brush’ method which uses oil paint on water color paper to produce a painting that looks just like a pencil drawing.



TGT:
What kinds of tools do you use for your drawings?


Matt:
To start every drawing I always look for a good piece of paper. I use graphite pencils to do all of my drawings and I have a set of 12. Each pencil’s graphite is a different softness so if I want to make something really dark, I will use a soft lead such as a 4b whereas if I want to make something very light, I will use an F or a 2h. I also use a clay eraser and a ruler.



TGT:
What do you normally do to prepare for your art?


Matt:
After I find the picture I want to draw (which is normally the hardest part of my drawings) I will put on some good music and start scribbling away.



TGT:
What do you look for in an ideal, finished product?


Matt:
In every finished drawing, I look for improvement. If I can see clear improvement from one drawing to the next, then I feel accomplished. I also look for smoothness of the pencil strokes and every exact detail.


TGT:
If someone was just beginning, what should they start on to improve their skill?


Matt:
I would definitely recommend to anyone who is starting to use the gridding technique. It is hard to get the right perspective and proportions when drawing from a picture and the grid eliminates that completely. As you get better, you can grid just certain parts of the drawing until you have a knack for it. I would also recommend staying away from smudging to blend. Let the pencils do the work for you. Instead of using one pencil to shade an area and then smudge it with your finger or a blending tool to gain smoothness, use a few different grade pencils. Your drawings will come out much sharper.



TGT:
Any advice for artists that are in Middle School/High School?


Matt:
The best advice I can give is to draw what you are passionate about. I was a terrible student in art class because I simply did not like what the teacher would assign. Find your passion and draw that. The best advice that was given to me by my high school art teacher was to “just draw it” and don’t think about it too much. It is the overthinking that frustrates every artist. If you’re drawing leaves, think leaves and just let it happen. If it’s not happening, draw a different part and come back to it. Don’t get discouraged.



TGT:
How often do you draw? And how often do you want to draw?


Matt:
When I am working on a drawing, I will try to draw for an hour or two every night, but of course that doesn’t happen. Some nights I just don’t feel like drawing so I don’t. I have gone a whole month before starting back on a drawing. I will only draw for an hour or two because of how monotonous it can be because of how slowly I work. I can spend one entire day drawing a 2x2 inch portion of my drawing. A lot of times I just have to get up and walk away from it but it is always worth it in the end.



TGT:
Do you look at a picture while you draw or do you normally just draw something that you envision?


Matt:
I work from a picture when I draw. Although I know steam locomotives fairly well, I would not be able to envision a specific locomotive in my head and get every single part of it correct. Steam locomotives, like any machine, have thousands of parts and it has gotten to the point where I will draw every individual part, even chips of paint.


TGT:
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Any shoutouts? To fans, family, or people who are reading this interview?


Matt:
Though I doubt she would be reading this, I would have to give a shoutout to my senior year art teacher Ms. Batt. It was in her class that I drew my first real steam locomotive drawing and it was her encouragement and know-how that got me through it and inspired me to get to the next level each and every drawing. The best part about Ms. Batt was that she would never tell me how to draw. I remember asking her one day the best way to start drawing the leaves on the tree in the background. She simply said, “Just draw it, don’t even think about it and jump right in.” And that was exactly what I did. It is this same philosophy that I use now and I have never again come across a part of my drawing that I felt I could not handle even if I have never drawn it before because of this advice. I also have to thank the author of this article, Ryan Suh, for encouraging me and offering me support throughout all of my drawings. It is people like you, Ryan, that make all of this worth it and enjoyable.



by Ryan Suh




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