Originally Posted Online: Sept. 08, 2012, 8:43 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 09, 2012, 12:20 pm

A daughter's dreaming inspires artist

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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

Photo: Anthony Watt
Matt Pulford, 37, posing with some of his artwork on display at Black Hawk College.

It is a painting. It does not move on its own. Still, a dreamy sense of motion saturates it.

The rainbow-colored shapes start as a cloud of indistinct sweeps and curls drifting from one edge of the wheat-gold canvas towards the other, but as they progress, they sharpen, becoming crisp geometric shapes that undulate through the rest of the canvas like a blanket flapping in a breeze.

Watch it long enough and a sense of floating gently grips you.

A dream was part of Matt Pulford's inspiration when he created the work, but it was not his dream. The East Moline native was watching his small daughter sleeping while she was wrapped in a colorful blanket. He realized she was dreaming.

"What the hell could she possibly be dreaming about," Mr. Pulford, 37, said of his reaction to the moment.

The other inspirations for the work include memories of Iowa farmland near Burlington that he would visit as a child, and "Watership Down," the book by Richard Adams that tells the story of displaced rabbits looking for a new home. He said he was reading it at the time he found his daughter dreaming.

He works with canvas, paper, photography and forms of sculpture, Mr. Pulford said.

Much of his work contains similar themes, though not always in the same proportions. One is white canvas with just a few soft gray lines that hint at grass in the snow. In others, different types of quilt patterns march through landscapes reminiscent again of rolling agricultural land.

He likes the more hands-on aspect of his media, he said.

"Actually pushing paint around, getting it to a certain consistency, there is something neat about it," Mr. Pulford said.

Mr. Pulford said he has drawn since he was a child, but that he did not decide until college that art would be a central part of his life. While there, he began to encounter the broader world of artistic expression and the people that inhabit it.

"Art was this much more free, autonomous world," he said. "That was really exciting for me."

For budding artists, he said maintaining the contacts they will make in the art world will be important. He and his friends bounce ideas off of each other and talk about balancing their work with the rest of their lives.

Artists also should be candid with themselves about the role they want their art to play in their lives -- will it be a full-time thing, or a smaller part, he said.

A selection of Mr Pulford's work now is on display at Black Hawk College, where he attended school before going on to Illinois State University. It also has been on display across America and in Canada.

But he has another job too. He works for the Davenport Schools in marketing. Then there is his wife and another daughter.

Mr. Pulford recommended students embrace the necessity of learning the basics. It will be invaluable as their development progresses.

"Trust that foundation building that you're going through right now," Mr. Pulford said.

More about Mr. Pulford and his work can be found at his website: http://mattpulford.com/.

The display at Black Hawk can be found at the ArtSpace Gallery in Building 4 of the Quad-Cities Campus, 6600 34th Ave., Moline.


Name: Matt Pulford.
Age: 37
Hometown: East Moline.
Family: Wife and two daughters.
His website: http://mattpulford.com/.