In his early years, Eddy became familiar with the airbrush as a painting tool in his father’s car-customizing shop. His Photo-Realist paintings are totally airbrushed, and he is considered a master of that technique. During the first decade of his career, in the 1970s, his approach to painting was primarily analytical as he painted cars, scrap yards and showroom windows, then opulent shop fronts, silver and crystal displays. The objects that filled the windows were machine made–familiar parts of contemporary life. The objects provided bright, reflective surfaces that distorted the appearance of reality and created kaleidoscopic patterns of refracted and ambient light and color. These images were ideally suited to his camera (a mechanical device that captures the imagery of light) with which Eddy had become expert while working his way through college as a tourist photographer.
Eddy’s introduction of windows into his work serves the purpose of creating a triple situation: a window has a surface, its transparency allows the appearance of a second image, and it reflects a third vision. Because of the way the eye functions, we never, in reality, see all three as separate images at the same time. By incorporating information gathered from several photographs and forcing it all onto the single focused surface of his painting Eddy makes the physiologically impossible seem logical. A camera cannot achieve the same result because, like the eye, it focuses on either foreground or background.
In dealing with color, Eddy does not strive for reality, preferring to paint from black-and-white photographs and to create color systems that are more concerned with formalist considerations. For instance, an orange car situated behind a red one may be reality, but a white car situated behind a blue one may work better as a painting.
Eddy’s work of the early 1980s indicates his reinvestment in both vivid color and evocative content. His newest paintings are multidimensional layers of ideas as complex and personal as the artist’s technique. His most recent work is the most comprehensive in terms of the artist’s themes of nature, art history, personal experience and fatherhood. His work is no longer simply photographic or realistic, but contains elements of both–having abandoned the perceptual world of the eye to move in spaces of the mind. As an artist, Don Eddy is considered a thoughtful intellectual as well as a disciplined craftsman.
Don Eddy (b. 1944) was born in Long Beach, California. Following studies at Fullerton Junior College, Fullerton, CA, he received both B.F.A. (1967) and M.F.A. (1969) from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. A year of post-graduate study at University of California, Santa Barbara, where he completed the course work for a Ph.D. in art history, was followed by one year of teaching at U.C., before accepting a post at New York University in New York City. He had his first exhibition in New York at the age of twenty-seven.
Birthplace: Long Beach, CA