With vast influences and “80 per cent coffee” fuelling his practice, Cannon Dill’s paintings are textural delights
With a self-described artistic style as “crunchy” the work of Cannon Dill elevates texture through the medium of painting.
- Lucy Bourton
- 25 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
When describing his work to his friends, Cannon Dill always uses “the word ‘crunchy’,” he tells It’s Nice That. An unlikely adjective to hear attached to the practice of painting, when you look at Cannon’s work “crunchy” really is the best word for it – and in the best way possible.
An artist who grew up in the Bay Area and attended arts college in Oakland, California, the work Cannon creates today is a fair few steps away from his initial pieces as a student and younger artist. “Most of the art I was making between the ages of 17 to 24 was much different than how I think, or approach, the art I make today,” he explains. Largely “detailed fine-line illustration” directly inspired by Oakland’s punk scene at the time, “I was never really much into fine art at the time, I just knew I was into drawing.” Diverting his style to the textured, canvas paintings he works on today, as time went by, his work gradually grew by scaling up.
Experiencing a want to shift his style as he became more interested in “big, sloppy paintings with lots of texture and build up,” Cannon began to experimenting towards the stylistic approach he has adopted today. Meeting more painters along the way, “Once I was able to ease into being the painter I am today, I immediately was able to feel like there were more possibilities and freedom that came with it,” the artist recalls. “If you look at my paintings now, I tend to paint pretty directly, the images are the focal point – it might be a pink bull, or a blue dog – but it’s not about the image necessarily, it’s more about the shape and the field of textures that really make it work for me.”
Now focusing on this approach which he continues to describe as “the brush being dragged over the canvas” to evoke a “skipping effect that looks very child like,” imperfections are also a quality Cannon is actively hoping for. “For example, the ‘oops’ marks that fall on the bottom half of the canvas, I think those give a lot of life to the work,” the artist explains. “I think a lot of people would call how I paint ‘naive’. I tend to be attracted to a lot of hand made objects, and hand painted signs, or crude pencil drawings – I think those interests play a role in the work.”
Describing his practice days as “pretty uneventful”, Cannon never forces the work to begin. “It’s like 80 per cent coffee, and then a lot of trial in the studio,” he says. “I spend a lot of time just thinking and listening to jazz. I generally paint when I’m in a good mood, if I’m not feeling it I stay away from making anything and try to surf or sit in the sun.” Influences vary too, with the artist noting the work of his friends as a key influence, as well as sculpture, stuff he says in the car, the Mission School Painters of the Bay Area, as well as numerous self-taught artists form the East Coast, and more generally, the practice of primitive and folk art. “‘I’m influenced by form and shape – sometimes I look at furniture and think about paintings.”
That said, repeated motifs such as animal figures, appear often in the artist’s work. “I tend to fixate on things a lot,” he adds on this area of his work. “Like at this very moment I’m really into Italian folding chairs and pythons. But they change every couple of months, and heavily affect my work. It could be just an overall feeling or it could literally just be a painting of what I’m thinking of at the time.” For instance, in his last show at Pt.2 Gallery in Oakland, the focus was developing a narrative of poets “who find a lavish abandoned property and end up squatting there, adapting to the lifestyle of the previous owner of the house.” Developing this through writing and poetry, alongside visual imagery, the result is one only Cannon could think of: “I ended with a Tiger, people lounging naked in a field, and someone getting a haircut under a chandelier.”
Now working on a series of smaller paintings, due to working from his home due to Covid-19, we look forward to seeing how Cannon’s artistic approach will possibly shift again, when scaled either up or down.
GalleryAll images by Cannon Dill
Cannon Dill: Cat Plant (Copyright © Cannon Dill, 2020)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.