Luke Morgan knew he wanted to pursue a career in art long before he came to the University of Illinois’ Painting program. He grew up on Chicago’s South Side with a mother whose collage work inspired him along with the comic books he read. Having recently exhibited his work with other juniors from his program in the Krannert Museum’s Link Gallery, he’s now experimenting with a range of traditional and electronic media, and this summer, he will be working on his own comic book as part of an independent study with his instructor John Jennings.
Why do you like oil painting?
I really like any medium I’m working with at the time. It’s really hard to pinpoint because I do so many different things.
There’s definitely a lot of control. You can get such rich color, and there’s a lot of technical stuff that’s really easy to do with oil painting. There’s a lot more freedom in the painting itself with oil painting as opposed to acrylic. It dries really fast. The way I paint, I try to paint very detailed. I like realism, and there’s really no question. With oil painting, it’s very easy to get that.
What’s your favorite subject matter to tackle with painting?
I like drama, which is kind of ridiculous drama. It’s kind of weird, but like the series of paintings I did with the oil refineries-just ridiculously romantic. I like that humor.
Has working with Photoshop and other software affected how you approach painting or anything else in your work?
It’s really kind of funny because I like painting, and I make a mistake and I’m like, “Edit, undo.” But I can’t. In one of my pieces for last semester, I did a digital painting where I did it completely in Painter. I just painted exactly the way I paint an oil painting, but I did it completely electronically. I like the play between electronic media and traditional media. It’s kind of interesting how it’s affecting my traditional work and vice versa.
You obviously have a wide range of experiences in various media. Which do you see yourself pursuing in the future?
It’s hard to say. I’ve been painting the longest, I think-and definitely drawing since I was two years old. But drawing and painting are definitely what I like most. But I really love storytelling and comic books. So it’s really hard to get away from. It’s a decision I’ve been struggling with for the past couple of years, especially in my artwork. Like, sophomore year, I was taking two painting classes. In one I did only comic books. In the other one I did only paintings. And I couldn’t really combine the two. I’ve been trying.
What would your dream project look like?
My dream project would be ideally I’d find a way to combine comics and my art. Maybe do an oil painting comic book. That would be ridiculous because drawing comics as it is is so labor intensive.