Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Number Four in my current series, "Divisions"

This is 80 x 36", oil on panel

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An email interview with gallery owner, Emily Amy
Emily Amy, owner of Emily Amy Gallery in Atlanta posed the following questions to all her gallery artists. I thought it might be interesting to post those answers here...

An interview with my artists:

What is your earliest memory of making art and when did you realize that you were an artist?
When I was around three, my parents let me use their oils and I painted a picture of my siamese cat playing with a ball. I can remember moving the paint around as I watched the cat...at least I think I can remember. I still have the painting, so that might be what triggers the memory. Regardless, I was hooked. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, "an artist." (Though there was that period when I was maybe 9 or 10 that I changed that to "a billboard painter..."). I realized I was an artist after college, when I kept at it hard when nobody was really looking.

Tell me more about your creative process.
What inspires you? Please be as broad as you like.
I am inspired by what I see as I go through my daily life. When I lived in a big city, I painted interior spaces. Having lived in a beautiful, rural area for the past 20+ years, the landscape now is what inspires me. Specifically, I'm drawn to intimate spaces in a large scene. Pulled into the landscape by a detail that is often quite far in the distance. That rush of moving into a visual space is what I try to capture in my work.

What artists, in particular, have influenced your work and why?
I have looked at deKooning's work for many years. The confidence of his marks, whether he's working in a figurative style, or loose and flowing -- that confidence is so engaging to me. It more than describes whatever he is rendering.

Right now, I'm looking at Eric Aho's quarry paintings. I saw an exhibit of that body of work in NYC and was blown away. There's an awkwardness that he seems to portray, even in the midst of a stunning landscape.

Franz Kline was a revelation for me. While always appreciating his large black and white paintings, I thought that they were probably executed in some wild mad dash of energy. But after reading more about his process I came to understand that they are very deliberate. That opened a door for me. I was trying to push a looseness into my own work, but kept running over myself, so to speak. With my current body of work, after the small preliminary sketches and studies for a painting are finished, and I think that I understand what I'm going to paint, I can slow down and really plan my moves one at a time: planning the specific brushstrokes, loading the paint carefully on the brush, etc. Controlled spontaneity.

What hobbies/interests do you have aside from making art?
I spend a lot of time in the summer on the water, either sailing, swimming or hanging out at the beach. We usually take a long summer vacation on our sailboat. Sitting on the deck, watching the endless horizon pass by, or gazing for hours at the passing water, changing color as depths change. This very much informs my painting. I pretty much always have my sketchbook and drawing stuff on hand.

How do you remain engaged and motivated when you are beginning to feel bored or complacent in the studio?
There are a number of ways that I push past those frustrating places. In my current work, which is all quite large, I'm at the same time working on a series of very small paintings. The small paintings help me to work out issues for the large work, trying different variations on the composition, etc. They help to keep ideas flowing.

Another project has very much influenced my work for the past couple years and has almost eliminated those times of restlessness in the studio, which is wonderful. I began a collaborative series a year or two ago with another painter. We initially began working together as an experiment, one that I initiated as I have always had a desire to work in tandem with another artist. We chose a subject matter that was intentionally different from each of our own personal work: the still life. Through a process of trial and error, we developed a format for our process. We work together on a setup, making small sketches to fine tune the composition. We then take turns on the painting, from the initial charcoal sketch to the end of the painting. While one of us is painting, the other is generally watching the work. We comment and discuss aspect of the work more and more as the painting develops. We generally put in 2-3 sessions on each painting.

One of the struggles that faces me regularly in my own studio occurs when I'm fairly deep into a painting, and some part of it isn't working. There's a reluctance to wipe out that area or to paint it out, to realize that because I won't let go of one “precious” area in a painting the entire piece isn't as strong as it could be. Painting with another artist, together on one painting, spreads that responsibility out a bit and makes it so much easier to be daring and make some necessary change that pushes each of our own work forward. For me, this has completely validated the time and effort I've put into these collaborative sessions. In addition, we are developing an interesting body of work. You can see the work if you like on my website, www.angelasaxon.com, under Extra Stuff.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Isn't there only one answer? A really successful artist, selling work, getting great reviews, fame (well, I actually don't care so much about fame, just want to have my work out there).

What is your current passion project in the studio (or outside the studio) and what is next for you in 2009?
I'm in the middle of a new series of very large paintings and very small paintings. The very large paintings started first. I'm working 80" x 36 and 60" x 36, oil on panel. Exploring what, at first, seemed to be the simple relationship between sky and water or sky and land. Horizontals. Half and half division. How the top of the painting relates to the bottom. As I've gotten farther into the series, I'm starting to understand that the interesting relationships are much smaller in scale than the large sky/land or water relationship. The scale of marks is exciting for me: the movement of paint on a large scale describing intimate details.

The small paintings are 3.5" x 2.5", oil on playing cards. I started this small series to work out details for the large paintings. But likewise, have been surprised by how expansive the small work feels. They have kind of switched places. The big paintings have an intimacy about them and the small paintings feel more vast. I'm still trying to figure out what this is really all about. In the meantime, I'm continuing just to paint.

What is your favorite color and does that influence your color choices in the studio?
I don't think I have a favorite color. Being a landscape painter, I find that I often am most frustrated by green. And try to challenge myself to not always see the sky as blue. The tube of paint that I can't do without is Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Burnt Orange. I add it to almost everything. That and their Tiger's Eye Genuine.

Do you consider yourself a self-taught artist or a classically trained artist?
I received formal training while getting a BFA in Painting from Indiana University, how to mix paint, be archival in my techniques, prime a panel, etc....but that's information that, once internalized, is just a tool. I have taught myself to see and to interpret that in paint. I'm always learning. Moving from series to series seems to be the way I progress.

What (or who) had the greatest influence on you as you developed as an artist?
This was going to be really hard for me to answer, and then it came to me. It's the landscape. Nature. The great outdoors. But not any outdoors seems to do. Luckily for me, I'm enraptured by the one that surrounds me now.

Why do you work in your preferred medium?
I love the richness of oil paint, and the slowness of the drying gives me time to work the surface. I work on panel as opposed to canvas because of the smoothness of the surface. I paint with very soft black sable brushes. The combination allows for quick, smooth brushwork.

How do you know when your work is finished/do you ever know?
Sometimes I am certain; I’m positive about it. Generally when I'm not, it's not finished and I just haven't admitted it to myself. Some paintings are never finished. Lately, I've been telling myself that there's no reason to not continue to work on a painting...that the worst thing that could happen would be to have a "finished" ugly painting. So I either dig back in or sand it off and start again if that happens.

What is your favorite museum to visit nationally/internationally?
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Washington DC

What is the most inspirational show you have ever attended (visual arts or otherwise)?
The Gates Project, Christo. Central Park, NYC