Horror in Oil – The Art of Clint Carney
By rancase

Clint Carney with God Module @ The Rex, Pittsburgh, PA ©2011 Ran Case

Clint Carney with God Module @ The Rex, Pittsburgh, PA ©2011 Ran Case

To call Clint Carney an overachiever feels like a bit of an understatement. When I met him at the Pittsburgh leg of the Triptych tour, he was in three of the four bands of the night: Fronting System Syn, doubling up with vocals and keyboard work for God Module, and playing keyboards for Imperative Reaction.

So yeah—on this tour, he opened for himself twice, then headlined. He’s positively vibrant in action: owning the stagefront through pacing and gestures, projecting the songs’ emotional tones even when masked. It’s easy to watch him and get the impression this guy can do whatever he damn well puts his mind to.

And that impression isn’t far off. Carney’s also in the band Fake, and is a writer, a tattoo artist, a painter, and possibly Batman. Pittsburgh is currently hosting an art show of his at Robinson Mall, and rather than ask him about everything he was doing (which would certainly degrade into my forgetting all questions and just repetitively telling him he’s wonderful), I decided to ask about that aspect of his repertoire.

So I understand you currently have an exhibition in Pittsburgh?

Oh, yeah, I have some pieces up at Get Inked which is in a Pittsburgh mall, I believe. So it’s kind of been an ongoing exhibition for a while. I actually haven’t been out to check it out yet but I sent htem some art maybe a year ago and they’ve been showing it ever since. (laughs) So you can go in and check it out!

You plan on getting out there anytime over this weekend?

I really hoped to get out there today but it didn’t happen; it’s a little hectic with the tour and stuff. I’m hoping to check it out tomorrow before we head out.

A friend out in California said you’re doing a bit of mixed media—that you’re making your own frames now.

The things at Get Inked aren’t that way, those are just paintings—but the new ones I’m working on I build the frames, and I sculpt pieces that go with the frames, and each frame relates to the painting in some way. I just had an opening the weekend before the tour started, at a place on Melrose in Hollywood called Congregation Gallery. I had my new paintings on display there through the end of the month. (Editor’s note: He also has a few pieces in their permanent collection.)

Clint Carney with System Syn @ The Rex, Pittsburgh, PA ©2011 Ran Case

Clint Carney with System Syn @ The Rex, Pittsburgh, PA ©2011 Ran Case

And when it comes to inspiration for your artwork—what drives you?

I just paint from my imagination a lot of the time. I’ve always big into horror and . . . Weird, violent, fucked up shit. Yeah. Things that pop up in my head, things I think about at the time just kind of spill out onto canvas. So . . . I’m a bit of a weirdo. (laughs)

Your favorite media so far?

Oil. Oil paint. I started painting in oil when I was a kid and then I abandoned it for a while because I was never really good at it. I kind of went from media to media until I found one I was really comfortable with—which was at first tempera. And then I moved to acrylic, and that’s what I painted in for years. And just in the last couple years I was talked into going back to oil, giving that a shot again, by some of my other artist friends. Now that I’ve gotten back into it I’m really hooked on it.

It’s just . . . With acrylic a lot of times you can finish a painting in one sitting. It might take ten hours, but you can do it. With oil it’s more . . . You’re gonna be working on it for weeks and months or whatever because of dry time in between sessions and things like that, but in the long run being forced to spend that much time on a painting forces it to be a better painting.

Have you had any kind of formal artistic education or anything?

No. My dad painted and showed me the ropes, and I read every book I could get a hold of. That’s it. I’m addicted to reading books on painting, and watching tutorial videos and stuff like that. And I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of people who are now my friends, who are painters as well and are cool enough to show me some things. That’s about it—that’s how I learn.


You know who was too busy grinning and not outright fangirling to remember DOOM!’s all important zombie apocalypse question? This girl! (This just means I have to catch up with him again later.)

System Syn’s new CD, All Seasons Pass, is now out on amazon and I highly recommend giving it a listen. And don’t forget Carney’s part in God Module, whose new CD is Séance, and the self-titled new Imperative Reaction CD. Also, here’s a list of places where his art has been and is being shown.

More photos from the Tryptich tour:
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157627910415298″]

rancase (22 Posts)

I grew up on the water. I still sometimes feel my visceral, paralogical craving to return to it colors everything I do. I make stuff. I mean well. That'll do for now.