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Dean Fleming
"Shore Leave"
"The Virgin"
"The Doll's House"
Oil on panel in a custom frame
The original art is available through L'Imagerie Gallery
oil on panel in a vintage deco frame
I think of painting as an expedition into the
wilderness areas of my imagination. I always
start out with a vague idea of where I want to
go, and as I sketch, the loosely drawn shapes
suggest new directions that I didn't originally
have in mind and the discoveries I make along
the way keep it interesting.
I didn't get involved in visual art until I was in
college and enrolled in a technical illustration class
but I've always had a fascination with music,
especially creating my own. I was born and raised
in Grays Harbor, a down on it's luck lumber town
on the Pacific coast of Washington State. A couple
of the kids in my neighborhood had electric guitars
and one even had an old drum set, which I acquired
at the age of 10 or 11. My parents actually let me
set it up in the living room, which shows how open
and supportive they have always been of my
"artistic" ideas. I was in one garage band or
another all through grade school, high school and
for several years after that. At one point I lived a
few blocks from Kurt Cobain, who I'm still a huge
fan of, but  this was way before he became
famous. I also had a friend who was a Quinalt
Indian. He used to tell me the amazing stories he
heard from his relatives. One I will never forget was
about the "stick man" who lived in the woods and
had twigs and branches growing out of his skin. His
stories were my introduction to mythology.
My career in commercial art began by accident in my early 20's when I was working as a
shipping clerk for a printing company in Portland, OR.  One day a salesman needed a simple
illustration, and asked me if I knew how to draw. I agreed to give it a try and he was so happy
with the results he paid me twice the hourly rate I made at my job. That drawing led to a steady
flow of freelance work and the idea that I could make a living as an illustrator. Fortunately, I was
fired from that job and began taking art classes at the local community college. I liked art and
seemed to have some natural ability, so when one of my instructors suggested I go to a good
art school, I applied to Art Center in Pasadena, CA., was accepted and moved to southern
California. I majored in illustration and went through a pretty rigorous program alongside some
very talented kids. I took my training seriously and was able to refine my skills way beyond what
I thought was possible. Art Center was a lot of work, and as difficult as anything I've
encountered as a freelance… so it was great preparation for my new career. I had planned to
move back to the north west after graduating, but I've found the large community of artists and
illustrators in LA to be a great source of support and inspiration.
My first job immediately out of school was "ghosting" for an established illustrator who had
more work than he could handle. All his jobs came from top agencies and big clients, so I had
the opportunity to develop a strong portfolio and real world experience very quickly. I soon got
an agent in New York and was able to bring in steady work on my own and went on to a very
successful freelance career.

My entrée into fine art came recently and quite unexpectedly. I was getting bored with illustration
work, and wanted to do something new with the skill set I had spent so many years refining. I
decided to try painting something that I had never seen, something as original as I could
possibly make it. The first surrealist piece I did was called "The Doll's House" and is in a frame I
designed and built myself to be part of the overall painting. The inspiration for it was a mixture
of the multiple armed shiva statues and gothic alters and architecture. I like seeing how artists in
the past described the spirit worlds and supernatural forces they believed in. My inspiration
often comes from ancient art, especially anything that's native American. I'm fascinated by the
totems and stylized graphic images of the northwest Indians and the pottery and glyphs of the
Mayans. I love the images of the Mayans wearing animal skins or masks. The forms begin to
meld together until it's impossible to tell where one ends and another begins. That's probably the
biggest technical challenge in my work... finding a way to fuse different forms into a single entity.
Mixing human and animal forms is as old as art itself, but I like to add machines, buildings and
anything else that makes an intriguing visual. A lot of effort is also spent trying to avoid the
obvious, drawing and redrawing things until i surprise myself with something unusual and
interesting. Each piece evolves through a lot of stages as I search for a compelling image.

The next few months are going to be a busy and exciting time for me. One of my upcoming
projects is to design and build a solar powered art studio at my home in Los Angeles. My
painting "Wanderlust" is featured in the current issue of Direct Art Magazine (on page one!) You
can find the link to my facebook page as well as signed prints and other merchandise on my
web site...