Peter Goode is an artist based in Los Angeles, California. His work often depicts magical creatures and humanoid-monsters encircled in oozing organic landscapes. With an additional bright colored palette inundated with translucency, Peter paints spiritual creatures with auras that illuminate his world with vibrant life energy. Misunderstood and pensive, they roam seeking redemption through self-reflection. When asked about his art hiatus and how these creatures came about, Peter had this to say:
You had a long hiatus away from publicly exhibiting your work. I was drawn to your work around a year or so ago. What brought you back to the art world after so many years away? I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and was really motivated to start getting my work out there into the lowbrow and pop surrealist gallery scene. I had a strong start getting my work into Juxtapoz Magazine and various galleries like CPOP in Detroit among others. I was getting to show alongside some of my favorite artists like Joe Sorren, the Clayton Brothers, Glenn Barr, Shepard Fairey, etc while I was still living in Providence. Despite those early successes, it was really difficult to get much traction. I took this job in Boston at a publishing company that had me commuting four hours a day so when I’d get home, I was just wiped out. I was getting depressed and I didn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with life in a healthy way or have the energy to paint. Over time, I got increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied and my mind was just wracked with this incessant negative self talk. I was drinking way too much, which worked, more or less, for a long time in turning down the dimmer switch on all the anxiety and all this incessant negative self-chatter. It was starting to feel like it was the only thing my mind produced anymore. The post 9/11 atmosphere, long winters, limited career and creative opportunities was contributing to this overall bleakness. It got so bad that I suspected I might actually be suffering from bipolar disorder, major depression, or some other kind of emotional disorder and I just got further lost in the sauce. Every little thing felt like some kind of major catastrophe. I looked at the world with this increasingly poor perspective and within a few years, I was very rarely making art or showing my work. Painting no longer provided me with joy or even the catharsis that it previously had. I was stuck in this state of impotent rage and frustration. It was the pits. It went on this way for years and years until something in me changed. I had this emotional bottom that on my own resources, I couldn’t fix. I couldn’t deny that what I was doing simply wasn’t working and wasn’t ever going to work. I was really sick in my body, mind, and soul and had to take a really serious look at my life. Einstein said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” and this was certainly true for me. I needed different results so I had to start doing things entirely differently.
I got sober in Baltimore in early 2012 and as it turns out, I don’t have any type of psychological disorder I suspected I had. What I had been dealing with was living in active untreated alcoholism which produced crippling symptoms similar to mental disorders and that prevented me from living life to good purpose. My entire view of the world had become totally warped and discolored. It had taken a measurable toll on every aspect of my life. After taking some direction and living in a way that treated my mind rather than just complying by abstaining from booze, I started getting real results. I was miraculously free of the bondage I’d been imposing on myself for so long. I got an itch to start creating again. It hit me that about ten years had gone by since I’d been creating regularly. It was a big slap in the face and I woke up to that in a big way. I’d had this profound awakening and as a result was able to start producing inspired work that was meaningful to me. I got prolific. And not only that, but I found that I wasn’t painting just for the dream of cash and prizes or to simply seek solace in the dark corners of my psyche for catharsis. This was a new experience. I was painting for the sheer joy of it all and there was a confidence I had never experienced previously. I sold almost all of my work and was able to save enough money to help finance the move out here to LA. I had a renewed sense of purpose. Looking back over the past couple of years, I’m astounded at the growth I’ve experienced personally and I think that really reads into my current body of work. Learning to let go of old ideas, a growing acceptance of everything being as it should be, ceasing to fight myself and the world, and keeping an open mind gives me access to a proverbial kingdom of heaven in the moment that I’m in. There’s an inner peace I can find in whatever I’m doing but it’s most abundantly evident and pleasurable to me when I’m painting. I get to be free and creative, and have fun connecting all the dots. And really, that’s all I ever really wanted, to be able to paint and have some peace of mind.
Ever since I picked up my first issue of Juxtapoz magazine in 1999, I knew there was an audience for the type of work I wanted to produce, and dreamed of being in LA. I was born in Los Angeles in 1978 and my parents moved when I was three. I always felt like I’d somehow been displaced and often fantasized about coming back here someday. So I guess I’m back home now! Within a year of starting to show my work here, I’ve exhibited at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Copro Gallery, Cannibal Flower, Gristle Gallery to name a few and even had a feature of my work at the ten year anniversary of Hive Gallery. I’m booked solid shows until the end of the year with plans to do Designer Con in November. This was a lot more than I planned for my first year of returning to exhibiting. So I’m really grateful for all these opportunities I’ve had so far and for all the people who’ve helped me to realize my dreams in such a short time. There’s an incredible amount of talent in this art scene and a lot of people facilitating and supporting it. I like to pay it forward whenever there’s an opportunity to do so. I’m very thankful to have been received into this vibrant scene so well and feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.
In your recent work, your characters often exist alone and are immersed in light. When I see artists paint or illustrate “characters” rather than human beings, I feel they often use these “characters” as metaphors or symbols for something they deeply feel. How do you relate to the characters you paint? The characters that I’ve been painting in my most recent work function as personal allegory on a metaphysical plane and mirror challenges and triumphs in my life. They serve to cultivate a deeper awareness of self and how I choose to relate to the world. In my painting “Trudge”, the character is this struggling infantile king walking slowly through this molten fiery landscape that is also divinely lit with all kinds of magical things happening. It’s treacherous yet full of wonder. The majority of my recent works previous to this piece were all these woolly gentle bodhisattvas learning to find solace in quiet places. These figures were becoming awakened, illuminated and recharged by a power that underlies the totality of all that is in their world. In this painting, however, we see a character that is learning to walk slowly through it’s difficulties. Life is always fraught with problems and things that aren’t easy to cope with and I think this character embodies an attitude of acceptance and the decision to walk towards something better than his previous experiences. It’s my hope viewers may see the characters I’m painting and be able to relate to them and maybe help them to find some kind of personal truth. I’ve seen my work get received in a variety of ways. Some people will tell me that they really relate to a specific character and will start talking to me about their experiences. Or they connect and can’t pinpoint exactly why. Others might be unnerved and aren’t satisfied that there isn’t a clearer narrative or they may have a lot of questions they want definitive answers for, which is all good. It’s exciting to me when the viewer wants to know more and begin to construct their own narrative as it relates to their personal experiences. I’m always fascinated to hear a viewer construct their personal interpretation of a piece. That’s how I know an image has made an impact on somebody. Generally, I really don’t like to tell people what to make of my work. I like to leave the images open to interpretation and make images that are interesting to me. Art making, for me, isn’t about telling people what to think or limiting other peoples imaginations. The best I can hope for is that my work is a springboard for someone else to engage in creative thinking of their own. The artwork I find the most satisfying are works that connect on an emotional level but invite further investigation and help the viewer to look inwardly.
Personally, I feel creating good art takes much self-reflection, vision, and dedication in order to evoke a deep sense of “self” onto canvas, paper, or whatever materials one uses. In many ways, I feel that many artists self-reflect while producing work. Do you reflect on your past or present when working on your paintings? I agree. I try not to over-analyze the images I’m constructing because when I do, they can become inflexible and self-conscious. Painting is really a meditative practice for me and I like to keep the process open ended. I never create images as I originally imagined them. Once paint hits the canvas, all bets are off. I allow each piece to evolve organically and try to keep an open mind as I go. I do what I can to go to a place of no mind when I paint. It’s in this space that I’m visited by all kinds of thoughts about past, present, and future, but I choose to view these thoughts in the same way one would view passing clouds. So, in a way these images are kind of “anti-self” and more about higher self. Each image gives me the opportunity to practice mindfulness, be present, and allow myself the freedom to let the process to inform me and shape the world that is being created. This makes each image unique to me. Sometimes, when I finish a piece I’ll be entranced by what I’ve made because I’ve allowed some sort of innate and intuitively guided creative intelligence to work through me and I’m oftentimes surprised at what I’ve manifested. Because each piece is done in multiple sittings where I’m open to act upon whatever mood I may be in tune with, there’s layers of emotion that exist within one image. A piece can be simultaneously dismal and hopeful, peaceful and wrought with frenetic activity. That’s what I love about most about art and image making. There can be peace in paradox, salvation in the seeking. Mysteries are revealed and explored by mashing some oil and pigment around and wiggling a stick back and forth on a surface. It’s primal, transmutational, spiritual, crude, divine and deeply heavy metaphysical mind blowing stuff. I love it.
Peter was one of two featured artists for The Hive Gallery’s 10th Year Anniversary Show and has exhibited at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California and La Luz De Jesus in Los Angeles, California. Prints of Peter’s work may be purchased through The Confero Art Collective‘s website. If you would like to visit Peter’s art gallery, visit his website or you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.