Leisa Rich – Artist

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Imagine an Artist making art for 35 years with a fine range of qualifications, a seemingly ebullient personality and a fascinating portfolio of works, and you have Leisa Rich from Atlanta, Georgia. A fibre Artist with a blog and a website. www.monaleisa.com www.richmade.etsy.com http://monaleisa.posterous.com

I read Leisa’s responses with deep interest, clearly a highly motivated Artist and a person who seems to have had many challenges and yet “bounces back” with ease. I feel sure there will be many people in awe of her tenacity as an Artist… It has taken a lot of work to edit this interview to keep it at a reasonable length, as Leisa had so much great value to add!

I hope the reader gets just some of Leisa’s energy, angst, brutal honesty, passion etc… I certainly felt she had so much to share. Thanks Leisa

Steve Gray

So Leisa, can you give us an overview of where your art is coming from or what it’s about?
I feel an increasing lack of control inherent to living life today.

Social issues of global uncertainty, unsettling politics, medical challenges, environmental woes, the insistent ways in which human interaction is being forced to morph due to technology, lack of human connection on a personal face-to-face level, and the accelerated, frenetic pace of a humanity trying to deal with the fallout of it all informs my recent work.

In addition, there is also my more personal interest in the on-going dialogue of the relationship (or often, lack thereof) between craft and art; society is finally recognizing fibers as a valid art form…how can I leave a foot in the traditional world of fiber art I love so well and also embrace and access the general mainstream art worlds’ love affair with expression through painting?

In an effort to create the arena for such dialogue and give it a voice of expression, as well as continue in my tradition as a fiber artist, I am creating Neo-surrealist, stitched, narrative “paintings” as well as 3 dimensional pieces – often in installation format and that utilize recycled media- that hint at or actually create, an alternate reality. In addition, I am seeking a tactile and visual way to control and shape outcome.

What are you currently working on?
A massive, viewer interactive, constructed and stitched alter- reality installation.

Why are you an artist?
Compelled by tactile experiences while in the hospital for deafness as a child.

How did you get into art?
I got mono (glandular fever) while on a piano scholarship at prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts private boarding school and had to drop my minor-dance for a semester, due to the illness. A friend said “Take weaving, man…it’s an easy “A”. Three days into it I was absolutely hooked on fiber and switched my major to art, much to my parents’ dismay.

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How important is art for you?
It is the air I breathe, the calm in the storm, the thing that keeps me sane. And, even beyond that.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
Art is perpetual change that I can control, tactile stimulation that gives me goosebumps, complete adoration- it never finds fault with me- and I can send a message out into the world and have it received.

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Your art education was…?
Three degrees. A Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, then a Bachelor of Education in Art and finally, at the ripe old age of 47, I got my Master of Fine Arts degree.

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The craziest thing you did at art school was…
I stayed in a destructive relationship throughout my first undergraduate degree with a brilliant and disturbed painter (who presently owns a prominent NYC gallery!) thus affecting the quality of my experience at that time. The stupidity of the young…

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Hmmm…most of it was a waste of time, but there were components of my MFA that were very, very helpful. I think I appreciated and gleaned far more as an older, wiser art student. I took everything really seriously and worked very hard.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
What didn’t I do! I was a store mannequin; a warm-up dancer for a disco band; a lingerie salesperson; a pizza parlor waitress; a fashion model; sold silver polish; babysat; was a fashion designer for an exclusive, international fashion design company; designed hats and clothes for t.v. shows; owned a wearable art business; sold everything I owned and travelled the world with my husband and first daughter for a year; was (and still am) an art teacher to ages 3-88 years of age; did census-taking; became a Mom- twice; overcame deafness and a paralysing major car accident and reconstructive back surgery, conquered foot and knee surgery; have taken care of a dying Dad and am now helping out an aging Mom and raising the last remaining child at home.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Not by my parents, but my sister and brother-in-law were excellent artists and art professor.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
Yes. I grew up in Canada, full of natural beauty, peacefulness and little crime or threat. Nature inspires a great deal of my work.

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Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think that “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?
Hmmmmm, I am still waiting for the big turning point. I have always gotten it, but my work has not got the recognition and sales I would really like. But, it is always worth it because I have no choice. This is what I was meant to do and I love every moment in the studio or watching as my students have their own AHA! Moments.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
My mother used to make Barbie doll dresses for me and bring them to the hospital so I could play with them and dress my barbie. I loved the satins, silks, the tactile. I absolutely love texture and touch…and we are sorely lacking in touch in these technological days.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Yes and NO! Concepts change, technical skills improve, but my work STILL has that push/pull dichotomy of intriguing and attracting the viewer, while at the same time repelling them.

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You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You feel good listening to others verbally screw your piece and take what you want from the critique, but still know who you are. Thick skin is very important.

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
Mostly riding the Big Kahuna…but when there are external stresses in my life, it takes a huge toll on my work. Recently, my husband lost his job and I didn’t make anything for several weeks. That has never, ever happened before. Usually, it is one or two days. I can’t stand going longer than that without putting my hand to it!

Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?
My creative urges are 24/7, 365 days a year. I need to clone myself.

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How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
Very, very, very.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
That would take volumes and more time than I presently have to discuss! We’d have to get into a debate about fibers’ place in the art world, and then that would lead to the never-ending Craft vs Art debate, and then I would start espousing all of my negative feelings about the hierarchy of painting and how they think they are the Kings….

Do you have much contact with other artists?
I try. I am the state representative for the Surface Design Association and am on the Board of Directors for a new fiber arts center we are opening up this year in Atlanta and I have some artist friends.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
Not if you time it well, stay focussed, work hard, and never, ever leave anything to the last minute. I am a highly organized, prolific artist. The Martha Stewart of the art world. Everything is labelled in my studio and storage.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Holy shit! Are you kidding me?! I just graduated in 2007 with my MFA, am almost 50 and am just getting started! Throw that question out!

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What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
Some things deserve lots of research, others very little. It depends on the project. I access the internet a lot…don’t go to see any art books at my local library because A) they have too many Dead White Guys and B) I have a better, more comprehensive selection of my own books. I read art books voraciously and collect them prodigiously.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
First rule of grad art school…never give them everything.

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What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer?
Time is NOT on my side. I don’t slap dash some paint on a canvas and call it a day. Most of my pieces START at 400 hours each.

What can you tell us about your creative development process?
Idea comes into head, sit down and start making it. Hang it up, put it on the floor, look at it, attack it and change it, look at it over and over again, repeat several times until you know…just instinctively KNOW…it is done.

Art is about entertainment, experiment, inventiveness or shock for you?
Personal vision and human expression. An invitation to look differently and experience. Titillation. Provocative thinking. If I see one more bowl of fruit I will scream….

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About significant moments in your life, the sort of things that changed things for you forever… perhaps altered your Art…
Who how why what and where…? Some intimate things can’t be fully discussed at this level. I do know that my physical challenges and growing up in Canada, and my shock at the human condition are all significant. Having kids and not having enough time for myself is significant. Doing something for 35 years and not being recognized is significant. Hanging out in my Dad’s electrical shop with the other “guys”- the plumbers, pipe fitters, etc. with shops in the same complex- was significant. At one time, female genital mutilation et al was highly significant. Babies being dumped alive after birth in dumpsters was significant. The way a leaf curves to catch the light is significant. It’s a life and it informs every single art piece.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
I would die.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
Never. I am always motivated (except for after the shock of my husbands’ job loss).

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Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
I still don’t have any. No one has accepted my work.

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”
Well! Ain’t that a loaded gun! Both. I do it because I have to, but it sure would be nice to pay some bills because of it.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
Actually, I think I have a pretty awesome life’s work record. Some of my pieces from 20 years ago are similar to things I see now that are garnering attention and sales.

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Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
It is totally important to me. I want to suck the viewer in to my story…and lately, to contribute to that story, physically.

People around you (family friends etc.) what would they say about the way you work, the moods you have, your life as an artist etc?
That’s another loaded gun! My father used to say, “Why can’t you paint some pretty pictures and make money?” That says it all.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
Another loaded gun. I try to be positive about it, but my life stays on the Starving Artist side, despite all of my good attempts to make it otherwise.

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Which is more important to you, the subject of your work, or the way it is executed?
Subject. I want to connect with an artwork. I was moved to tears once by a piece done on a piece of cardboard…

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
It is all crucial. The most important thing an artist can be is educated, enlightened and informed.

Have you won any awards?
Yes, actually this is one area I have been quite successful in.

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The problem with the art scene today is…
It is incestuous.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?
I sold everything I owned, travelled around the world and looked at all sorts of art along the way.

How did you go about marketing your art?
Website, blog, twitter, demos, teach, mailing list, occasional magazine ads, give-aways, charitable donations and more.

How many artworks do you produce in a year?
Dozens of significant pieces.

How often do you work in the studio?
Every, single day.

Do you ever question being an artist?
All of the time. I feel tremendous guilt for taking so much time and money away from my retirement with my husband and from my family….

How do you cope with any low points?
Feel depressed, shake myself off and move on.

How long do our works they usually take to complete?
400-600 or more hours of work. The one I am presently working on will take a year.

How did you approach your first gallery?
Doing everything that I was taught to do. The approach, the portfolio of images, etc. I did what everyone suggested. Still no gallery will take me…and here in Atlanta, it’s all about the “who-you-know” so fat chance of getting noticed here.

Do you think art school nurtured you or somehow crushed you?
Both. I had a lot of diva professors with their own favorite students and agenda.

How did you manage to survive financially at the beginning of your art career?
Working, always working…while pregnant, while a Mom, always working.

How do you establish your art work prices?
A formula and then forge the formula because I know no one is going to pay that. Right now I get about 50 cents an hour.

Can you respond to this quote “Anyone who is half assed about art should get out.” (Janet Fish).
Yep. I know what she is saying. Unfortunately…it seems a lot of half-assers and ass-kissers make it. I know one.

What was life like for you as you were growing up?
Lower, middle class, good Canadian family. Parents who never understood where in the world their two artistic daughters emerged from.

How did your first solo show go?
Awesome.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?
Certainly not. I was full of optimism and enthusiasm! I still have the enthusiasm but not the optimism. Especially in these tough economic times.

How do you continue to grow, or is this not important?
Always and it is always important. I see a lot of artists become successful doing one form of art and they stay with that forever because the money is good. I have a love/hate relationship with that view….

Did you have an inspirational teacher, and how did that affect you?
No, I actually had teachers who were always against me. It was important to me to rise above their negativity and find my voice and believe in myself.

Here are a bunch of statements you can respond to any way you want. Go for the first thing that comes into your mind, or not…

Sociable and out there, or withdrawn or intense? Sociable WHEN out there, withdrawn in the studio.

Tough and resilient, soft and fragile? Tough on the outside, a total jellyfish inside.

Small and intimate or large and bold? Large and bold.

Security or insecurity? Insecurity.

Feel the art and hear the image… Feel. Literally.

The world is… a bitch. Awesome. A dichotomy.

Delicate and subtle, strong and bold? Strong and bold.

Intellect or careless casual connections… Intellect.

Critics are important because? People love to listen to negativity!!!!

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au

Exhibition – Yhonnie Scarce – Noah Grosz

Dianne Tanzers Gallery in Fitzroy is hosting a new show for April 2010 Yhonnie Scarce and Noah Grosz

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Amanda Boekhout – Artist

Amanda Boekhout is a Florida Artist from Tallahasee who has been painting for about 12 years and has had many art forms enter her life. Her website is www.elliottelephant.com and also check out her blog at www.chantspectacular.blogspot.com

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Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I love to sew and design clothes, I love to sing and make music, I enjoy collaborative endeavours, and I love to garden and hike whenever possible.  The beach is my favorite.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I have been working in oil paint for the longest amount of time but I am definitely a mixed media artist.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
My work is very personal and I would say that every piece is somewhat of a self-portrait.  I have social and cultural undertones but they are not obvious in most of the things I make.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently enthralled with the idea of “alive painting.”  I am experimenting with creating sets or spaces that are still and can be read like a very large painting.  I am also including my body in the works as the figural element, which brings in performance.  This type of work is more powerful for the viewer to interact with than anything I have done in the past.

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What fascinates you?
Bodies, skin, fur, dirt, the sun, plant life, the ocean, and love.

One word or statement to describe your current works?
Alive, ephemeral, ambiguous.

Why are you an artist?
I am deciding whether to consider myself an artist.  I am a maker.  I feel like there are a lot of people who call themselves artists and I am not sure I fit in anywhere so I am toying with the idea of making things that may or may not be and being happy doing so.

Your art education was…?
I went to undergrad at University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida and graduated in 2004 with a BFA.  I took 5 years off to “find myself” and live away from Florida for a while.  I am currently completing my first year of Grad school at Florida State University for my MFA in studio art.  I am having a blast and I highly recommend the program.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
I am the type of person who really enjoys being taught.  I am very inspired by professors and fellow students.  I love the intensity of critiques and how they make me re-evaluate everything I think I know about art.  It is possible to have these experiences without academia, but I am not very good at seeking out those communities or workshops.

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes!  All forms of art are interesting and captivating and inspiring to me.

What is your earliest memory of art?
My sister would hand me a piece of paper and watch me fill it up completely with all sorts of marks and patterns.  She was really impressed by that.  We were very young.

Do you remember your first painting or artwork?
I remember falling in love with painting.  I was 16.  I was sitting at a drafting table in my parent’s house (my house at the time) and I was alone.  I was blasting Tori Amos’ Choir Girl Hotel and I was painting a female figure from memory.  That was the first time I felt that I had something that I loved more than anything else.  It was pure happiness.

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Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
My parents encourage me to do whatever makes me happy.  They are really amazing and supportive.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts? (e.g. as a student).
Looking back, I have always used the female figure as the main subject matter in my work.  There is a constant thread throughout.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
I am flooded with ideas all the time; I am very blessed to have such an easy time with this.  Now I just need numerous versions of me to help me make everything at the pace in which it comes to me.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Craftsmanship is very important.  When the level of technical skill is ingrained, the art is stronger and therefore will speak to the viewer with ease.  I am miles from where I wish to be in my skill, but I have my whole life to practice.

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Do you have much contact with other artists?
Due to being in Graduate school, I am surrounded by many artists.  We are constantly feeding off of each other and suggesting artists to look up for each other.  Also, I am a part of the Railroad Square Art Park here in Tallahassee.  We are most noted for out First Friday events, which are attended by upwards of 5,000 people per month.  This is a great opportunity to communicate with the artistic community!

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Making art is a very selfish practice.  Artists often leave their practice when they can no longer be as selfish as they once had the luxury of being.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
I love Monica Cook’s work.  She is a painter based in Brooklyn.  Any of the large paintings in her “Seeded and Soiled” show would be greatly loved.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Monica Cook, Chris Sedgwick, Kehinde Wiley, Kris Lewis, Carrie Ann Baade, Odd Nerdrum, Andrew Wyeth, Ana Mendieta, Sally Mann, and Alex Grey.  Look them up!  They are amazing in every way.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
I struggle every day with knowing that I don’t know, creating a fresh idea, creating a fresh visual experience, being true to myself and to others with what I make, and accepting failure. (to name a few)

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
It is very liberating to paint over paintings.  I also like taking a painting to the fire as an offering to the art gods and goddesses.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works?
I am currently reading about warrior women.  This has been a huge influence on my work for the past 3 months.  I am attempting to embody the women I read about in my art.

Musical influences?
Eluvium, Slowdive, Sigor Ros, Marie Sioux, Radiohead, Blonde Redhead, Air, Amon Tobin, Dead Can Dance, Thievery Corporation, Grizzly Bear, Lichens, Grails, Polyphonic Spree, Ulrich Schnauss.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Viewers come with their own complete biography that directly affects the way they approach art.  I have put my own intention in the making process, but I love the ambiguity of art and how it can have endless meaning.  I only strive to make work that is engaging and inspiring for the viewer.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
Deadlines!!!!!!

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
It would look great over the couch!

Tell us about your studio environment?
Is a studio ever big enough?   I have two studios.  One was given to me as a part of the masters program and one is in Railroad Square Art Park.  I love both of them and am very grateful!

Are you a purist with your art materials or willing to mix things about?
I am really thrifty.  I paint on found surfaces.  I use very little paint; I go by dumpsters weekly to see what I can find to make things out of.  I recycle fabric and paper.  I am a firm believer that there is way too much stuff on this planet so if I am going to make more stuff I might as well reuse!

Want to see more Artist Interviews the day they are posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy… click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au

Paul Lorenz – Artist

Paul Lorenz Lives in Paducah, Kentucky, though he is originally from Chicago. Paul is represented by a few galleries: Homey Gallery, Chicago’ Gallery IMA, Seattle; Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia . Since he was a small child he has been making art, but professionally for about the last 25 years. You can find more info at www.paullorenz.biz His Artist statement reads… “Abstraction is not a style, but a state of mind… a way of thinking about action and circumstance, confidence and risk-taking, boldness and subtlety.”

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Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I am director for the River’s Edge International Film Festival… I like film and working in a festival atmosphere.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
oil on canvas and panel; water based media on panel; Bauhaus inspired graphite drawings.

How do you describe your work?
My work is definitely abstract with process more important than image. The image evolves from visual, chemical and physical properties.

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What are you currently working on?
I just finished a series of paintings for a solo exhibition at Homey Gallery, which opens on March 26. I also completed a series of graphite, graphite and oil, and graphite and casein drawings… I am not sure what their future will be.

What fascinates you?

Chance… coldness… darkness… ink… Lars von Trier and Peter Greenaway.

One statement to describe your current works?

Confident manipulation of chance.

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
A mark leads to a color, which leads to a space. A line leads to another line, which forms a plane, that may or may not cover space. The spaces combine, through tool and media, and a new vista is created. The combinations are limitless, though the growth follows a logic and rhythm. The result carries visual threads that lead our eye from one moment to the next. What similarities are born in a minute a day or in weeks of progress?

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Why are you an artist?
Art allows my mind to resolve questions.

How did you get into art?
I have always been drawing or painting since I was a small child… but working with oil paint in high school was the moment of no return.

How important is art for you?
It is pretty much everything I think about, and pretty much the biggest thing that guides my life.

Your art education was…
Studying Bauhaus architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Chicago… the most profound influence on me. Studying painting was about seeking the right instructors no matter where they happened to be. I studied painting at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the International School of Art in Italy (with Nicolas Carone and Irving Petlin) and at the University of California, Berkeley.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Studying architecture was the most important… you learn logic… and a way of understanding techniques that make them integral to your life, not just tricks.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I studied architecture and worked as an architect for 15 years before quitting and devoting my time to painting and drawing.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I have been fortunate to have numerous high points. The most gratifying was getting a commission for a painting on permanent display in New York City at Rockefeller Plaza. It was the largest painting I have ever tackled (4’-6” x 16’) and it was an honor to be given the commission. You can see it in the first flor lobby at 45 Rockefeller Plaza.

What or who inspires your art?
Architecture inspires me the most, though you may not guess that from my work. There is no sentiment in great architecture, like great painting, just the pure understanding of space, construction and composition.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Work is always evolving… working in oil, graphite or water based media, working on panel, canvas or paper… I find I need a balance between everything to keep things fresh and the process moving forward.

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Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Getting started is very easy and adventurous… completing things is the challenge… knowing when to stop, knowing when you have said enough with out beating the point to death.

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
They do…and when you are in the midst of a wave, you just have to work until the feeling is over.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
‘Art’ is very complex…like ‘medicine’. When I talk about ‘art’ I am always referring to fine art…not children’s art, student art, arts and crafts, crafts, art fair art, etc. Each has its own set of criteria. Fine art challenges the viewer, has a direct concept being explored and allows the confidence of the artist to be seen.

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Does the sale of your work support you?
The sale of my work does support me, and I am very fortunate for that. I also teach through the cyber campus of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in their MFA program.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
I live in an arts community in Paducah Kentucky… I see he artists all the time.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
I have a solo exhibition coming up in Chicago, opening on March 26 at Homey Gallery, plus numerous group exhibitions in Europe.

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Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
It takes a lot of dedication to keep your ideas fresh and alive so that the work continues to grow and entice. Art is a portrait of your soul and it is exhausting always having to be on the edge to make it happen.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Kazuo Shiraga for his dedication, risk and energy. Mies van der Rohe for his idealism, aesthetic and logic.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I have a journal where I map out the direction of new works and keep images of things that inspire me…architecture, furniture, quotes, etc.

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What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
They are simply not complete… and they continue.

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
Be honest with your media, your marks and your structure… and always search for surprise.

Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?
Stravinsky, Takemitsu… Throbbing Gristle, Social Distortion… Italian pop… everything depends upon my mood when I walk into the studio… yes, the art is definitely effected.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I create a series of moments and the viewer has the chance to be involved with the outcome or not…I spell out as little as possible.

Art is about entertainment, experiment, inventiveness or shock for you?
All four, though ‘shock’ is a strong word… I think ‘surprise’ may be better. I want the materials to entertain me, I like having that kind of engagement with media, tools, etc. Everything is an experiment… some things done with abandon, others with more control and insight. Inventiveness is something that develops with knowledge… the more you work, the more you know, the more inventive you can be. If I am not surprised, then the work is not done and I have to continue…until I am surprised…

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
Definitely… but I am not sure what could replace it.

You know you have “made it as an artist” when…
I have something hanging in MOMA in New York.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
I had moved to California and was living in Berkeley. A new gallery was opening in San Francisco and they were looking for new artists. I sent a portfolio, had an interview and they took a chance and represented me. It was a great time of growth and polish for me. I stayed with them for nine years, even after relocating to Kentucky.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
Being and artists and the ‘business of art’ are two different things and need to be looked at as such. When I am working in the studio, I am focused on the fun and challenge of working with color and media. I do not let business get in the way. When all is said and done, I then take the marketing of this work very seriously and try to find the appropriate venues, it’s an evolving challenge.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
The work is a reflection of a moment in time. Some things stay strong and viable, others do not hold their strength. In either case, the moment they captured was real and part of me, and for that they have value and deserve to be seen.

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?

Leaving California for Kentucky allowed me to design and build my own studio. It has light, space and a clean gallery space for viewing finished work. I have to admit, I am out growing it, but that is hardly worth complaining over.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
I think we all have things inside of us needing to come out… Working in the studio is the perfect haven for the demons and the angels.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
I hope that occurs. From what others have told me, it does. I think the strongest works are the ones that draw us back over many years to discover new meanings.

Some artists are more “at home” isolated in their creative process, while others revel in being part of a group to bounce “ideas off” how about you?
I have been in both situations, and I think humans need both. W need the time of solitude to find our voices and play without boundaries, but we then need the energy of others to propel ideas, create new dialogs. One without the other leaves us broken in a way.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
We all want to be successful artists… It is just a very tough business. So many factors lead to success and many are out of our hands. All we can do is just keep creating the most profound work that we can.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
We are all working at a specific moment in time. That time is reflected by the society we live in, our education and our curiosity. History is very important because it gauges ideas and is a refuge for determining strengths and weaknesses in our work.

Are there times of the day when you prefer to do your work?
Morning… definitely.

Have you won any awards?
A few, which is always gratifying? 2009: Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy: Citta de Firenze Medal. 2005: Kentucky National Biennial, third place winner. 2001: Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy: Fifth Place Medal, Painting

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility?
Having a presence on the internet is important. I have my own website and post images on other art sites. The internet is good for communication but nothing takes the place of real human interaction.

How do you continue to grow, or is this not important?
Stay curious, try new things, never forget your roots and your personal integrity.

Here are a bunch of statements you can respond to any way you want. Go for the first thing that comes into your mind, or not…

Sociable and out there, or withdrawn or intense?
Sociable out of the studio, intense in the studio.

Tough and resilient, soft and fragile?
Resilient when dealing with art business… never fragile.

Logic and clarity or creative and messy?
There is a time for logic and a time for being messy… just not at the same time.

Small and intimate or large and bold?
Both… depends on mood and time between those opposing ideas.

Security or insecurity?
Secure in being curious and taking risks, which may seem like insecurity.

Feel the art and hear the image…
live the moment.

The world is…
large and full of possibilities.

Creativity muscle building…
More like brain building.

Delicate and subtle, strong and bold?
There is a time for both and we need to be sensitive and open when the time is right.

Intellect or careless casual connections…
Intellect starts most things, but we have to allow ourselves time for play…

Critics are important because?
Someone should say something about your work who is not a relative…

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Chris Sedgwick – Artist

Chris Sedgwick is a Painter who says he moves around a lot but always tries to live right by or in the mountains. He currently lives in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which is right at the base of the Rocky mountains near Garden of the Gods; a beautiful park with gigantic red rocks that jut out of the landscape. Chris says the area is very inspiring. His works are described as Transcendent narratives.

Chris is represented by Gallery Minerva located in Asheville, NC (www.galleryminerva.com) and the Elaine Erickson Gallery located in Milwaukee, WI www.elaineericksongallery.com

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You can see Chris’s website at www.crsedgwick.com Chris was a feature Artist in the American Art Collector Magazine 2009.

On his work Chirs says… “The inter-penetrating layers of symbolism, mysticism, and narrative in my work constitute a timeless world of ancient rituals and divinatory rites. In synthesizing techniques of the old masters, ancient mystical teachings, and contemporary science, my work focuses on the uniqueness and universality of inner landscapes and transcendent experience.”

How long have you been making art?
I have been making art ever since I was a small child; my parents were very encouraging of my interest in art.

Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?

Many of my interests intersect with my artistic endeavours; principally my love of learning and research into ancient cultures, mystery religions, modern sciences, symbology, and sacred geometry. I also love travelling, hiking and being outdoors.

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What are the main medium/s you work in…

Most of my paintings are solely oil paint and gold leaf but occasionally I will use some crystals, minerals or other forms of raw earth. I have really moved away from sketching in the past couple of years, I prefer to conceptualize a painting in my head before I begin sketching anything out and when I eventually sketch I am usually doing quick stick figures to figure out the geometry of the composition.

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?

I would have to say that my work would fall under the category of magical realism with some narrative symbology thrown in there.

What are you currently working on?

I am in the works on a concept involving the four elements of platonic thought (fire, air, earth, water) including the alchemical concept of the “quintessence” all compositionally laid out to the golden ratio. I am in a transition point in my work right now, I am moving out of a ”Rembrandtesque” dark sparse phase towards lighter symbolically rich area where I am adding more color and graphic elements.

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Your art education was…?

I enjoyed my undergraduate art education, I attended Florida State University; I split my focus between sculpture and painting but after graduation I focused solely on painting. Sculpture is a hard field to brake in to especially if you don’t have the wherewithal to cast metals or the studio space. I attended UNC Chapel Hill for my M.F.A. just last year but withdrew after the first week, I realized too late that academia was not exactly suited to me anymore, along with a lot of financial concerns compiled with the fact that I have no desire to become a professor- I do think that furthering ones art education is a good idea I just think that the costs associated with it are downright obese in America right now; matriculation has really become a big business in itself regardless of it’s benefits in the long run. I am still interested in attending small workshops and would hope to someday be able to teach workshops myself.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?

I worked in a bronze-casting foundry, we cast medals, plaques, art, and door knockers, it was very tough work but it was fun.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I like oil paints versatility, portability, historical richness, and wide acceptance in the art world. I wish it wasn’t so hazardous to the health but I try to take measures against that.

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What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

For me I usually get my best ideas before going to bed or in the afternoon while the sun is shinning very bright, there is a slight breeze and the surroundings are calm and quiet; I have found that I don’t really get great insight while the weather is bad and I rarely get good ideas when I sit in front of a sketchbook waiting for them to pop up. I have noticed a very strange phenomenon in my work, I always seem to be narrating experiences in my own life through my work but I do not realize it or they do not happen until roughly six months later. It is not that I set out to narrate my experiences, in fact I attempt to do the exact opposite, but somehow about six months later I discover how the piece relates to me personally. This process has happened numerous times and I can’t really figure it out.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?

I think it is paramount.

Does the sale of your work support you? If no what else do you do to support your art ?

It has solely supported me for years, but recently I have had to look for supplements to my art income on account of the economic downturn here in the U.S. I would say that the life of a fine artist in my experience is pretty tough, one has to be comfortable with never knowing when the next pay check will come, the baffling cost of healthcare is always a hurdle, and it can be rather lonely but I think it is all worth it in the end.

Not to sound too pessimistic but I think the dream of being a famous artist, collected by the best museums, and always in demand by collectors may be a pipe dream for the overwhelming majority, myself included. I see a lot of great contemporary artist being overlooked, whole genres even being written off or dismissed, and I have noticed the propensity of museums to showcase similar collections of a small group of contemporary artists- though that small group is generally amazing. One of my favorite artists I would include in this group would be Julie Heffernan, I love her work, and it seems that no matter which museum I visit they always have one of her pieces.

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Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?

I am darn near a hermit, I hang out with my wife and dogs, and we are always moving around the country. I do like going to exhibitions and openings when I get a chance.

Do you have much contact with other artists?

The world of online social networking has been great for this purpose; I can always connect with artists from different parts of the world through these outlets. It is kind of neat to see some great work in a magazine or link and then be able to dialogue with the artist so easily.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?

The most significant turning point in my career would have to be when I was accepted in to my first gallery. I had been selling my work on eBay and building a small group of collectors but I had to make paintings at an incredible rate to support myself, Anna Parker, the director of Gallery Minerva encouraged me to broaden my scope and outlook on my work: I started to make more intricate works, spend more time on the concepts behind them, think about the conservation and archival future of my work, and of course opened me up to the wonderful world of professional framing- the black hole into which every painter throws their money.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard question, but for the last five years my favorite work has been Hans Memling’s “Triptych of the Last Judgement”. I don’t consider myself to be particularly religious, more spiritual, but I really love how the old masters portray the concept of the last judgement, it is such a rich narrative.

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Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

My favorite deceased artists would be Hans Memling, Eduard Manet, and Michelangelo.

I consider myself under exposed when it comes to contemporary art but a couple of my favorite contemporary artists would be Igor Melnikov, Odd Nerdrum, Julie Heffernan, and David Linn. I love all these contemporary artists for their excellent craftsmanship and captivating subject matter, they all seem to have a strange edge to their work that surpasses “talent for talents sake”.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?

I am pretty stubborn when it comes to my work; I try to make everything work out eventually, but in the case that it doesn’t it gets sanded down and some more coats of gesso.

One thing you wish you had listened to from an art teacher or lecturer?

I remember in my undergrad schooling hearing a professor say that “art is just shit that looks cool”, at the time I thought that was a narrow minded approach to art but the more I have had time to think about it I almost have to agree; you can have pages and pages of explanations, concepts, and prestige but in the end if it doesn’t measure up or is begging the question “is that art?” then why even create it- just write a paper or find a better way to communicate the ideas you had intended. The only exception to that argument being the learning process, of course one’s technical skills needs time to develop in response to one’s need behind developing said skills.

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Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?

I think that good art should be able to communicate on many different levels, you shouldn’t have to be privy to some esoteric knowledge to feel the overarching rush of experience from a work however being able to pick up on symbolic, historical, or personal references used in a work can add another layer.

How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?

I think that really is the point of art unless you are embarking on a personal therapeutic exercise. I have struggled with this concept my entire artistic career… is art selfish in nature? Should the creation of work without the viewpoints and measured impact on others be considered art or just a self-extraction technique that is expressed with artistic mediums? Some would say that the end results are one in the same, that of creating work solely with ones own benefit and gratification in mind or to moving towards a purely commercial execution. I think there is a difference, and I think the blurry line between them is where the great art resides.

I hope that my work confronts the viewer with a narrative capable challenging their ideas about spiritual and religious experiences while remaining euphoric in nature as opposed to shocking the viewer into an experience. I also want my work to communicate an accomplished level of craftsmanship so that the viewer notices the time and skill I put into its execution.

Respond to the notion “Art is a device for exploring the human condition”…

I think you could substitute the word Art in that statement for just about any action that humans undertake.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?

Yes, very much so.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?

I like giving titles to some pieces but some I feel don’t really need a title nevertheless I give them one anyway. It is interesting to me that compulsively giving titles to work is really a fairly recent phenomenon in the history of art.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?

A couple of people have cried, one woman grew exceedingly angry, and one fellow tried to trade his BMW for a big painting, I am sure there are more stories but I am rarely with my work while it is hanging in the gallery.

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”

I would like to think that it is a mixture of both.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?

I wish I could see them again sometime; I always wonder where my paintings are residing after they leave the gallery or studio.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?

One book, which inspired my work was “The Physics of Consciousness” by Evan Harris Walker, another was given to me by a collector “The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception” by Max Heindel, a religious text that is great for its symbology, and “How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist” by Caroll Michels, a great book for those thinking about entering in to an art career. I am currently attempting to read “On Growth and Form” by D’Arcy Thompson, an early 20th century scientific text on the way forms take shape through natural processes.

What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?

Paint.

Are there times of the day when you prefer to do your work?

I like to paint during the day, as the light is much better.

Do you think art can change people or their perceptions?

Yes I do, it really depends what part of the brain you are trying to change though… I believe that you will never be able to directly change the “left” rational, scientific, or logical side of the brain with art but you can change the “right” emotional, holographic, and intuitive side of the brain. Many works of art have achieved a change in both perceptions by first changing the “right” which leads to a realization that the logic and operation in use by a society is in need of change eventually leading to inquiry and correction.

The problem with the art scene today is…

There are too many artists.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Have a good plan on how and what you want to achieve your goals and learn a secondary skill that will help you during the down times.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?

I moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico recently for six months to be near White Sands National Monument while I was finishing up a show I had been working on for two years. I am not sure why, I just felt drawn there and it was one of the favorite periods in my life so far.

What personally motivated you to begin a career as an Artist?

The great job security, year-end bonuses, and stock options.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

I will work on anywhere from two to six at a time depending on their sizes.

How do you establish your artwork prices?

I work with the galleries that represent me, they are the best at analysing the market, and then we come to an agreement on the retail price.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?

No, I would be fascinated to recieve any book recommendations, if anyone has one send it my way.

Critics are important because?

This is definitely a loaded question, implying that they are already important, with that said they do apply their expertise, breadth of knowledge and can help propel an artists career- I guess they could do the exact opposite too. I have never really dealt with any professional critics, only editors and reporters, so my opinions are a little underdeveloped in that area.

Exhibition – Michael Needham

Michaels work in a fresh space…

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Exhibition – Emma Hack

Emma Hack has been exhibiting up a storm again…

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Recent Aussie Visual Art news

Recent Art Awards were announced and here are some of the winners..

Cairns-based painter Ian Waldron has won the $35,000 Glover Prize for landscape painting for his work Cockle CreekImants Tillers, one of this year’s judges, said Waldron was the first Indigenous Australian to win the Glover.

Danie Mellor has won the $15,000 Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing for his diptych The Offerings (A Custom Ritual). The work was selected from a field of 407 entries by judge Cathy Leahy, senior curator of drawings and prints at the National Gallery of Victoria. ”These are impressive and memorable drawings. The enigmatic encounter represented in them, together with their impressive formal qualities and complexities of meaning, invite sustained contemplation,” she commented.
Also shortlisted for the award were Mostyn Bramley-MooreDagmar E CyrullaDavid Fairbairn and Sallie Moffatt.

Scott Bycroft has won the $25,000 National Photographic Portrait Prize for his portrait of teenager Zareth Long at a school swimming carnival. Bycroft won out over a field of 43 finalists, including Australian Art Collector photographer Stephen Oxenbury, who was shortlisted for his portrait of Owen Yalandja.

Gosia Wlodarczak has won the inaugural non-acquisitive $10,000 Stanthorpe Art Festival prize for her drawing Lawrence Armchair Graphite.

Kim Buck has won the $5,000 Limestone Coast Art Prize for her charcoal drawing Faithless (the weight of it all).

Carmen Reid has won the $10,000 Williamstown Festival Contemporary Art Prize.

Tanmaya BinghamTitania HendersonJohn KellyMarco LuccioSaffron Newey and Julie Shiels are among the artists shortlisted for the open medium $15,000 Williamstown Festival Contemporary Art Prize.

Among those named finalists in the Glover Prize, $30,000 landscape painting award are Rodney PopleStephanie TabramMegan WalchPhilip WolfhagenHelen WrightNicholas Blowers,Neil HaddonKristin Headlam and David Keeling. The winner will be announced on 5 March 2010.

William EicholtzKate RohdeJud WimhurstLouise ParamorCaroline Rothwell and Jonathan Leahey are among the artists shortlisted for the McClelland Sculpture Survey & Award, to be announced in November 2010.

Painter Michael Zavros has been selected by the Lismore Regional Gallery to judge the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize.

Gabrielle Jones has been awarded a residency at the Valparaiso Foundation, Mojacar, Spain. She intends travel in late 2010 or in 2011.

These results are from the Australian Art Collector Magazine.

Peter Tudhope – Artist

Peter Tudhope is a painter from Girvan, South Ayrshire (South west coast of Scotland) is represented by High St Gallery, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. He has been making art for 42 years, you can see more of his work at www.petertudhope.blogspot.com

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Peter paints landscape and figurative work, mainly in oils. His work leans towards a suggestive abstraction rather than a more deliberate representation. Recurrent themes include dramatic skies, barns, riversides, bridges, the local countryside and shoreline as well as portraits and figure studies. The intense colour and expressive paintwork creates a dramatic and energetic surface and rawness, where space is increasingly compressed and pressurised, has become Tudhope’s signature style.

Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?

Music, film and lliterature are my other three passions. I write a little poetry, regularly attend the nearest filmhouse and couldn’t live without music.

What are the main medium/s you work in…

I mainly work in oils. I find the consistency and plyability of the medium suits my style of work.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?

Not really, my work is more about paint, colour and especially mark making. The image in many cases is secondary to the physical effort of painting.

What fascinates you?

I love to paint places I have travelled to. Apart from the usual culprits I think it would be wonderful to paint the Arctic or the wonderful mountains of the Guilin and Yangshuo region of China. The mountains and islands of Scotland always draw me back though.

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Why are you an artist?

Art consumes me. There is nothing I’d rather do more. For as long as I can remember I drew everything. It was fairly obvious it would become my life.

How important is art for you?

Simple, It’s what drives me to be the person I am. I think about art all the time. If I haven’t worked on anything for a while it can change my mood. I feel happy and alive when I create art, it gives my life a purpose.

Your art education was…?

I stared my art education at Edinburgh College of Art, completing my First Year Studies then transferred to Glasgow School of Art gaining a BA (HONS) Degree then a Masters Degree at Manchester Polytechnic. Both degrees concentrated on Printmaking.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

It wasn’t until I went to Manchester Polytechnic to do my Masters Degree that I realised how well I had been taught at Glasgow (School of Art), at least within the technical processes of Printmaking. I did find though that there isn’t much teaching going on more guidance, unfortunately not much of that either. Most students find their own way, this probably only happens in the art area.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?

Since leaving Art College I have had to find work to “pay the Bills”. I worked in many different jobs such as in a Care Home for Educational and Behavioural Needs Children, built luxury tree houses throughout the country and worked as a sculptors assistant on many public art commissions.

Was art a “thing” which was encouraged in your family?

I was very lucky that my parents have always been encouraging. It became obvious very early on that some form of art was going to be my life.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

Definitely a big influence.. My hometown nestled between the sea and the hills. There was a working harbour, which was and has been a continuous source of interest and inspiration. I walked in the hills which have been of great beauty to work from but also where I could clear my head and spend hours thinking and happily day dreaming.

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

From an early age I devoured art like drinking water, especially paintings and it was something I always wanted to do but wasn’t particularly good at painting with thicker paint. I was more of a draughtsman and so Printmaking made sense. I did become a little frustrated the medium was quite slow and methodic, I wanted instant images, and so when leaving college and not having Printmaking equipment readily available, I turned to painting in oils.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts? (e.g. as a student).

As a student I experimented a lot. When afterwards I started painting in oils it took a long time to become more in control of the medium. Although I still love the fact that the medium can surprise me. A lot of artists have a certain style through habit of the way they work. Sometimes a painting takes it’s own course and that’s when I let it take over.

Have your artistic influences altered over time (e.g. artists.)

Definitely. My early influences were artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Rembrandt as I moved through college I started to get interested in a more modern scene with artists such as Julian Schnabel, Georg Baselitz and Anselm Keifer. After college I turned more to artists I had looked at throughout college and were now making more sense within my art. I moved away from abstraction into seeing the world again, going back to drawing, artists such as Lucian Freud, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff were and have been the major artistic influences for the last twenty years.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

It has changed more recently from attacking the canvas with the bare minimum of sketched ideas to collating lots of drawings and colour studies of a particular subject which then lead me into painting. As I paint I make fresh drawings exploring new avenues to pursue within the painting. Ultimately the painting takes over and shows you the way to go. A painting does talk to you, the trick is not only be able to just hear it, but understand what it’s saying.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?

Not always. Hence my interest in looking for themes. They concentrate your mind to look at a subject at different angles. You somehow know when you have exhausted your own interest in the subject.

Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?

I’m sure all artists get urges… sometimes even artistic! Inspiration can come in many guises, a particular light in the sky, a colour draped across a landscape caused by a cloud or a gesture made by someone in the street. It’s at these times I would quickly sketch a kind of description of the scene.

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How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?

Like all artists I dream of how I might paint something in my head. Reality is always different but it’s a good starting point but I do like to keep my mind open to the image as it materializes.

Have you had any commissions? Any of note etc…

I don’t really do commissions as I find the idea quite restricting, although I recently produced an exhibition of paintings from a theatre in Aberdeen. This seemed successful as the work was supposed to be on show for a month and ended up being on display in the Theatre for a year.

Does the sale of your work support you? If no what else do you do to support your art (job)?

I have been working on a smaller scale mainly due to financial reasons and I suppose it’s easier selling smaller works but scale is also about intensity, which is harder for me to reproduce in a big scale.

Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?

Of course. If you are an artist you should be interested in other artists. Going to an inspiring exhibition fills me with enthusiasm and it carries into my own work, it sets a fire under you and drives you on.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?

I have been visiting Belfast recently and quite inspired by somewhere new. I have already created a couple of paintings and working on more.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?

It’s always a little daunting until you get stuck in. I work quite quickly and know when I’m inspired the work flows.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?

It seems to me we are talking about artists finding their “style” early in their career then repeating the same images over and over. I think the problem is more to do with the habit of the same technique. Although my style is similar I hope I don’t fit into that box. Each painting for me is a struggle, that’s the way I like it. Style is different from technique, my technique varies.

Tell us about your connection to your subject matter, way of working, concepts etc?

I like to paint in the studio. I am quite a messy and use a lot of paint. I would feel restricted working outside from a subject directly. I work from drawings done on the spot or later, I like the detatchment from the subject, it allows me to be more expressive and not so literal.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?

About five years ago I started to pay more attention to drawing as a medium in it’s own right. It has changed the concept of how I want to paint.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

Susan Rothenberg, her later work has me mesmerized with wonderful colour and descriptive brushwork. I love the abstract stories she tells of simple things within her life, very clever. Chaim Soutine is also a favourite, a master of the expressive gesture. There is a lovely giddy feeling and lush pure painting. Another wonderful artist I have come across is the Venezuelan artist Armando Reveron, his depictions of nudes and local landscapes are spellbindingly modern. One of the best artists who ever used white. Of course there are many others such as Bomberg, Auerbach, Kossoff, Matisse, Rembrandt, Carravaggio, etc, etc.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?

Like most artists I am obsessed with sketchbooks, they are not in diary form but if I looked back through them you could probably see the development of styles ideas and subject matter. I do however like to have a little visual diary when I travel jotting down notes beside drawings.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?

It has mostly always been from drawing from the subject. I would do lots of quick sketches with a felt pen, now I also work on colour studies and more developed works in charcoal.

Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?

Creating art is a lonely business, I do love to listen to music while I work. I love music and go to concerts etc I listen to my ipod on a base station so that I don’t have to be interrupted changing discs. Certain music is better than others, if I am not painting and doing other things related I like to listen to the radio.

How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?

It’s probably one of the most important things for an artist as it’s what makes a viewer stop and look. Without that there is no point exhibiting your work. But that shouldn’t be mistaken with creating work specifically for the viewer.

What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer?

I think my work seems straight forward and fairly easy to read. It may not be evident though that the image is just a starting point, the real painting for me is the application, the colour mix, the texture, struggling with the process until an image appears which surprises you.

Has being involved in the arts proven to be a millstone or a point of elation?

It has sometimes been a bit of a millstone as it can get in the way of relationships or influence how you live but is always worth it in the end. I can’t image my life without art.

Respond to the notion “Art is a device for exploring the human condition”…

I have two main examples of this, the first is a minor one, when I draw or paint I am concentrating so much I can block out the cold or even pain. The second is more important, for me artistic creation helps my inner balance. I am happiest when my art is going well it’s like an anti depressant.

About significant moments in your life, the sort of things that changed things for you forever… perhaps altered your Art… Who how why what and where…?

On a very personal level I did very little for about a ten year period when I was married. Family, long hours, little space and a crisis of confidence seemed to take over. After my marriage ended I vowed to myself art would become more important again and immediately started working on a series which kick started everything I do now.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?

Sometimes I go through periods where I am in a creative slump. I am always thinking about art but physically can’t seem to get things going. Before long something works itself out, it’s like a habit, you just have to keep looking and drawing.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?

Titles are great. They can give just enough explanation to help viewers understand what you and trying to portray. Some of the names of places are wonderful and are like frames, finishing touches.

Are their special aspects to the making of your work you want to share?

Only in as far as I need my studio set up so that I can wander in and out. Painting is not always a nine to five thing. Very often I paint at night or sit and look at what I’ve done during the day, resolving problems and searching for the next days work.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?

My first show was just after I graduated, a local art gallery saw my work and offered me a solo show. The thrill of that was doubled by the fact the other solo show at the same time was by Henry Moore.

Your first show at a “gallery” you thought was of value, how was the whole thing for you?

Very exciting but unfortunately a bit of a let down. I thought mistakenly that it meant I was on my way into an art career, the lack of sales sobered me up.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?

It is a personal bug-bear. I think art colleges are responsible for the lack of knowledge in this area. It is probably as important as art history. Fine Art students need to know how to survive beyond college.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?

It’s always nice when viewers compliment your work, not many people tell you when they don’t like it. Although early on in my college career I showed some early painted sketches to a tutor who told me they were terrible. I was taken aback a little, but he was right. It made me more determined to learn my craft.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?

When I was a teenager my art teacher lent me his copy of Lust For Life, it inspired me like no other book had. More recently read Hilary Spurling’s biography of Matisse. It was a wonderful illumination to his life and work. There are wonderful books about the life of Pissarro, which showed the struggle of an artist to survive, it was as relevant today as then. And I read a great book about Jon Schuler, an American artist who came to Scotland and became inspired by the western coast and sky. All touch you somewhere inside as representing little parts of your own life and a connection to the struggle most artists go through.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?

I don’t really respond to comments like that. You have to develop a tough skin and always remember not everyone will like what you do. There is no point taking it personally.

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?

I have had different studios throughout the years, from lots of space in an old mill to the glass porch in my house. I can work in a small corner of an attic with little light if I need to. Currently I am moving trying to move home and have very little space. Ideally it would be a room at home big enough to store paintings and let me stand back from the paintings.

What would you say are the top three things, which make you successful as an artist?

A decent drawing ability is always good, I use striking colour mostly and the third thing would be the choosing subject matter, which not only you would like to paint but interests the viewer.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?

I would hope so and have been told on many occasions that this was true. As an Expressive painter I think the energy of the brush marks can be exciting, they show the power of the paint and hopefully how brave you can be with a loaded brush.

People around you (family friends etc.) what would they say about the way you work, the moods you have, your life as an artist etc?

People close to me get to know painting keeps me happy, others wouldn’t know, I wear my heart close to my sleeve.

Do you have a connectedness to other art forms?

I love sculpture. Recently I worked on a few small nude bronzes, which was exciting. I worked on all of the processes. They were modelled in wax which I found incredibly therapeutic and would love to do more. They somehow helped a new push in my painting showing the way forward.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your work, or the way it is executed?

I need a good subject to start me off or the work would not be done, but, the execution is what interests me more about the process of painting.

Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?

You just have to look at my work to see I love a more expressive style, it’s harder to control but when you hit it right it’s a great high.

What is more important to you in your work, content or technique, concept or product?

A painting has to work on different levels, no one thing can be more important. In my own work the technique and the mark making process invigorates me, but there has to be a balance though with content. The content is a complimentary factor which helps to draw the viewer in.

How do you think art can change people or their perceptions?

I think art and culture in general is what makes people civilised. Everything from music to designing our cereal packet creates a better world. If your surroundings are well designed whether your home or outside it makes you happier and it’s very often the simpler elements which work the best.

Are you the sort of artist who seeks out promotional opportunities or one that shuns the limelight?

I personally shun the limelight a little although I want my work to speak for me and would be happy to see it well promoted.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.

I have work on a few of these sites, I have never got much in the way of sales from them but they are good for getting to know other artists and have made good “cyber” friends who exchange knowledge and encouragement. It has also been handy when someone is interested in your work to let them see a good collection of your work without having to travel to your studio.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?

All my paintings are worked from drawings. These drawings can be done from life or from photographs. I have got into the habit of when working from photographs I will turn them upside down so that I don’t get bogged down with trying to “copy” what I see. Instead, I just want to use them as starting points, drawing upside down can create a dysfunctional element which becomes your own.

When you create your work is it somehow an emotional relief as you do it or at the end?

At the end of a painting session you can be left high or down depending on how well the work is going. Finishing a painting is always a high.

Do you aim to make “masterpieces” with the aim of being seen in the future as an artist that really made their mark in art history?

I think it’s a very difficult thing to try to make a “masterpiece”, they become that way through time. I would however like to make work, which would be seen in the future as quality of its time. Meanwhile, I paint because I love to do so.

What do you love/hate about being an artist?

The struggle can be depressing but can also show you that the world doesn’t owe you anything and it makes you try harder.

The problem with the art scene today is…

The same problem as it has been for many years, the high end of the art world is so stuck on finding the latest sensation it forgets about talent and quality in many cases. There are great artists still struggling and talentless fame seekers getting all the limelight. But nothing is fare in the art world and it’s still a case of being in the right place at the right time or playing the game in the right way and who you know. I suppose this sounds familiar for many other areas but it is particularly relevant in art.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Work hard, see it as a job not a hobby. Be professional, get to know about such things as tax, how to do your books etc. Remember you have a talent people want, do not sell yourself short, an architect wouldn’t work for free, you have bills to pay like anyone else. It is a fight, in general others want artists to just give their work away. Be realistic.

How long did it take to develop your own style?

I don’t think I really cultivated a style, I think through time my work just looks like the same person has produced them.

What personally motivated you to begin a career as an Artist?

Simple. I found from an early age it’s what I was best at and more importantly what I loved doing the most.

Did you intend to become a professional artist?

Yes of course. At school I looked to art college as my goal. Suddenly when I left I realised how hard it was to survive by your work alone.

Would you say your paintings reveal something private about yourself?

I am quite a quiet person, fairly laid back and wouldn’t say particularly excitable. My work on the other hand shows my passion within which only a select few ever see.

How many artworks do you produce in a year?

On average I paint about thirty oil paintings a year now, but also do many drawings and works on paper, which can vary.

What technical aspects do you focus on in your work?

I tend to work wet into wet, which means a painting for me has to be hit or miss everytime I work on it. I will scape the paint back off and try again until I find marks, colour etc. I work on the whole painting trying to keep it fresh and continuously spontaneous.

How long do our works they usually take to complete?

A work can take a matter of a few days or I can work on them for up to two years. They often get beyond a point where I feel happy working on the surface, in which case I destroy them and start again.

How has your mind-set changed from struggling to find your own style to solidifying what you are doing today?

My style is a result of painting in a way that is the most natural to me. I am quite impatient and always want to see instant results it is only the fact that I want to be discerning that I struggle on until I am happier with the result.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

I usually work on up to four or five at the same time. They can develop in different ways and be completed at differing times. As I finish one I start another. I find also this helps when I am working on a series, one painting can spur on another.

Do you think art school nurtured you or somehow crushed you?

It definitely nurtured me. Of course like most people you didn’t use it to your best advantage and would love to have the time and resources again to do a better job. Money was always a struggle but it did give you time to experiment with other mediums and experiment freely.

How did you manage to survive financially at the beginning of your art career?

After spending five years at art college with the financial support of my parents I felt I had to start working and pay my way more even if it meant not in the art world. I have worked in Social Care, Teaching, Construction and Customer Services jobs to pay bills and support my family.

Does the gallery make the artist famous or does the artist make the gallery famous?

I think it’s hard to have one without the other. Artists need outlets for the work to be seen and sold and vice versa. I think galleries sometimes forget that without the artists they would not have a living, they can be a little guilty of their own self importance and look down on the artist. High street galleries are just shops which sell a form of luxury merchandise, it just happens to be artwork, gallery owners are shop keepers when it comes down to it. The artist is the talent, a good gallery recognises this and nurtuires them which can only be a good partnership for both.

What was life like for you as you were growing up?

I had a very good loving upbringing. My parents were supportive and allowed me the freedom to follow my passion. We were never particularly wealthy but never particularly went without. They encouraged reading, music and to have an open mind to the world. It was an easy place to grow up, safe and without much in the way of hardship or struggle. Perhaps my laid back attitude was a result, I know I am not as driven as perhaps I should be.

Do you have ideas turning over in your head all the time or…

Constantly. I daydream a lot, thinking about paintings. I paint in my sleep or built imaginary studios. If I’m not doing anything I’ll pick up an art book and lose myself for a while.

Eccentricity is seen as a common trait of artists of many disciplines, how about you?

I wouldn’t say I have any eccentricities. Sometimes artists become that way by cultivating a persona which will make them stand out as an “artist”. Art for me is just something I do I don’t have to shout it from the rooftops. I think I am happy within myself and confident enough to know it’s about the work not me.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Exhibition – Obscura gallery

The guys at Obscura Gallery invite you…

obscura-invite

Exhibition – Found Line

found-line-invitation

Exhibition – Shanghai

March 7-11, 2010

Shanghai Art Museum

The Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center is proud to announce that from March 7 to 11, artist Caitlin Reilly and Xiao Hui Wang will be participating in the “Centennial Celebration of Women in Art—World Artists’ Exhibition” that will take place March 7 thru 11 at the Shanghai Art Museum in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day.

This event has been organized by the Shanghai Women’s Federation in cooperation with Consular Spouses Shanghai, Shanghai Artists Association and Shanghai Female Artists Association, as well as the Shanghai Art Museum. The exhibition will be curated by Mati Cuenca from MoCA.

Art Competition

Lethbridge gallery is running a “small scale” art competition for 2010.

lethbridge-comp