By day Alan E. Brown is a mild mannered bookstore employee in Bear, Delaware. At night he transforms himself into Medusawolf and paints quaint little portraits of demons, beasts, and robots – each radiating their own agonizing, pulsating energies. These intensely hued dimensions merge bits of insanity, beauty, and humor and crunch it all down into a fun but very warped output. I got a chance to catch up with Medusawolf to find out what he is up to…
The creatures in your work seem like they’ve pushed through a tear in a dimension and have existed for eons. How did this fascination with monsters begin?
MW: I began painting the creatures sometime around early spring of 2010. I think what planted the seed they grew from was reading the book “Grendel” by John Gardner several years ago. Each chapter was headed up by a great illustration of the monster by artist Emil Antonucci. The book and the illustrations really coiled themselves around my mind. After a few devastating life changes in the early 2000’s the character’s frustration and heartbreak really spoke to me. I’ve been working off and on on a comic book for the last few years, just for the pleasure of it, and I needed an antagonist for these little creatures on their adventure through a strange alien world. I came up with a character who initially is inspired by the creature that I saw in my mind as I read that novel years before. Since then, the character sort of has grown to become an extension of myself somehow and I guess – in a way – the paintings come from having a lot to “say” with paint and paper because I feel so close the monster.
MW: The idea behind a lot of the creature paintings is something I kind of figure out after I’m done. I don’t really realize what I’m doing as I paint them. I never approach a painting with the intent to express any specific thing. There are these things that don’t exist anywhere in the universe except in my mind and I want to see them more clearly – and along the way I make choices that, inevitably, express something of myself. In art, I like the idea that anyone can look at a painting and it can mean something completely different from anyone else’s view, yet it is always the right interpretation. It belongs to that individual’s experience of the world. Whether it be that you simply like it visually or are touched by it in some quiet or loud way.
Medusawolf sounds like the band I want to be in. Can you tell us some of your favorite bands and music? What are you listening to right now? What’s your secret guilty pleasure?
MW: Yeah, I want to be in that band too! The first time I listened to Animal Collective’s album “Merriweather Post Pavillion” at the urging of a friend, I didn’t get it. About a year later I gave it another shot. I bought it as my first vinyl record on my birthday last year. I listen to the tracks “Guys Eyes” and “In the Flowers” over and over and over again. It has become my favorite album. Music, and art in general for that matter, amazes me, in that, for as long as we have been creating things on earth, with a handful of notes, colors, shapes, words, that individuals can still punch through with something like you’ve never heard or have seen before. Those can be rare moments but they hit you like a ton of bricks. They are so strange and jarring and unrecognizable that they dig into you and leave their mark, eventually.
I listen to a lot of film scores, especially recently. I watched “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” a couple of months ago for the first time in a while and have surmised that it contains, in my opinion, the most perfect marriage of music (Ennio Morricone) and images in all filmdom. Another composer I’ve been enjoying is John Williams. I really think he is responsible for at least 50% if not more of the success enjoyed by the original Star Wars trilogy. I grew up watching a megaton of movies with my dad so I guess the music of movies is natural for me to be moved by.
I guess some of that film music can be a guilty pleasure but I must confess that my Itunes contains a highly listened to file of Wham‘s “Careless Whisper”. As I write this it makes me laugh but, whatever, I can’t stop liking a song just because it’s Wham. For a double whammy i recently can’t stop listening to “License to Kill” by Gladys Knight. Guilty as charged, but quite pleasured.
Have you or do you incorporate your art into any other forms other than watercolor? Do you use any other medium? How has people reacted to your work so far?
MW: At the local art store they carry these neat double ended markers that I use for my comics. I’ve also done a small amount of scratchboard work. There is something so satisfying about the process and the little weapon you carve with is cool. I really love paper mache’. Last summer my girlfriend and I made a paper-mache and felt deer head for a friend. The problem solving aspect of making masks and costumes out of it is a lot of fun. And it’s not expensive, but oh brother is it a mess. The kitchen floor of my last apartment will never be the same. Also, I have this vision of producing lifesize paper-mache sculptures of beastly wolflike creatures that I hope I have time and space for in the future.
For some time when I first started my Etsy shop I would get so nervous when an order came in. I guess I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea that people actually would like to have the artwork I make for themselves and will trade me some of their money for it. In the future if I am lucky enough to still be garnering peoples’ interest and there is a call for it, then maybe I would feel more comfortable getting my stuff out there on a larger scale. I’m satisfied so far with spreading the word in my own slowpoke way. I think it is important to go your own pace. I’m still getting my feet wet. But it works for me and I have been enjoying a lot of successes since opening the shop. Etsy has been a great way to gain a little confidence in myself as an artist.
Please describe the most vivid/weirdest dream you can remember.
MW: I am very, very small and find myself standing next to a giant wasp carcass in the back window of a speeding car. A burst of light appears in front of us. The driver throws up his arms and the light sucks us in. I become reoriented on an operating table of sorts and people try to push what looks like a soldering-iron-tipped pistol through my chest. As they succeed I see two horrid, pale alien faces peering through a small round window on a door to the room. I struggle and scream and suddenly I am in a grassy alley dividing a cornfield. Someone is behind me with a gun to my head. On my knees, I try to crawl away but a thorny branch is caught on my face. I struggle forward and reach out for the ground. Long grass blades pierce my hand like knives.
I woke up in a panic and tried to draw this all down. I remember it like no other dream. Except the one I had about the Munsters tv show when I was younger that ended in me waking up screaming and being led to the shower to calm me down.