“I’ve found the fun,” said junior Tanner MacArthur
MacArthur is talking about his work as a painter and his
love for the process of painting, something he fervently believes that anyone
“I like to paint and it’s so fun,” MacArthur stressed.
“Anyone in the world can paint. All you have to do is pick up a brush. The
beauty is in the doing. I want to let the process work itself out.”
MacArthur’s works are generally large abstract pieces
that play with overlapping layers and showcase a unique sense of depth and
movement. His piece “Thumbprint 1” is a 60-inch by 48-inch acrylic on canvas
that showcases a myriad of thumbprints layered beneath one large overarching
red thumbprint, full of dizzying motion.
“I love being able to look back and see my growth,” said
MacArthur, adding that his younger self could never have imagined what he’s
making now. MacArthur first started drawing in elementary school where he
trained his eye by copying photographs of Pokémon and dragons. He took his
first art class in high school and was instantly hooked, taking every art class
he could. At this point, his works mostly consisted of oil and acrylic
self-portraits and, by his last year of high school, he had amassed a
significant portfolio, which he submitted for the AP Art Exam.
However, in addition to this enormous passion for
artmaking, MacArthur also hungered for a broad liberal arts education that
would allow him to explore more than just studio art. While at Lawrence,
MacArthur has pursued a variety of interests including writing, religious
studies, film and music.
“I’ve been fascinated ever since I got here with how
musical this campus is,” said MacArthur. “The first music I ever made was in a
film class where I scored a short film I made in Logic. It was so much fun—like
sonic painting. Layering things, creating textures, reworking, sampling—it’s
all really similar. Also, the way music software is lined up is so visual. It
was really easy for me to start working that way since I’m such a visual
Despite this, MacArthur insistsed that it was not
completely easy at first.
“I was terrified to start making music. It’s insanely out
of my comfort zone. The electronic world versus my analog paintbrush,” laughed
Yet for him, the importance in his artmaking, no matter
the medium or form, always comes back to the process.
“I think there is so much to be said for putting yourself
into a creative mode and just letting things happen,” said MacArthur, stressing
how judgment is a toxic but difficult mindset to get out of. “I’ve learned over
the years to not get frustrated with what I’m making and, if I do, to just
accept that frustration as part of the process. You can’t expect perfection
As an artist, MacArthur stressesd that even though
expressing his voice and his artistry through his work, the process is not all
“The painter creates an object that they relinquish to
the world,” explained MacArthur. “They create half of the meaning, and the
audience creates the other half. I think artmaking is healing and by creating
work, I am giving these objects to the world leaving a bit of myself with each
one. I want my voice to be fun, accessible and healing.”
You can see MacArthur’s work in his upcoming solo show on
Apr. 12 at the Mudd Gallery on the third floor of the Seeley G. Mudd Library.
In the meantime, you can view more of his work on his Instagram @mushybrain.