Briefly describe the work that you do.
My art encompasses the technical realism of natural science illustration and also the strange imagery that is associated with modern surrealism and lowbrow art. My work is usually laden with symbols and features subjects from the natural world in correlation with these symbols or as symbols themselves. My paintings draw from ancient history and the present to create contemporary narratives and parallels.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
It wasn’t until high school that I made my decision to go to art school and become a professional artist. I had always loved science, as well, and it took me a long time to decide which direction to go in. As a child I had always had a gift for art and people always called me an artist but I didn’t quite know what this label entailed. While at Kendall College of Art and Design, though I still missed science, I knew that I had made the right decision to become an artist. After receiving my Masters Degree in Fine Art Painting I understood a little bit more about what it means to be an artist and what my duty as an artist is.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in Petoskey, Michigan. My family lived out of town and back in the woods. I had 40 acres of forests plus hundreds of acres of state land to play on. Everyday I would be outside playing among the trees, fields, ponds, streams, and also observing the inner workings of the natural world. These influences have greatly affected my work. I paint what I know and I know the natural world. Plants, insects, animals, and landscapes are the meat and bones of my work. Also the philosophies that are associated with being in tune with nature also appear in my art.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
Conceptually my art is concerned with creating new narratives that promote deeper understandings of the world we live in and the inhabitants we live among. I see the world in an animistic sense where all things are regarded as persons and we all live in relationship to one another. My paintings use concepts of ma and symbols to draw these connections, ask questions, and create new thoughts that initiate deeper understanding of the world around us. Recently I have been exploring alchemical symbols and how they relate to my own personal narrative and myth while still encompassing my concerns mentioned above. Conceptually I don’t think my ideas relate in any specific way to the techniques I deploy. I paint realistically because that is what my hands do naturally. I guess I can say that I use many layers to build up my paintings and they also have many layers of meanings to them.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I agree with Chuck to a point, that it takes hard work to go anywhere in the art world, but I disagree with him on being inspired. Highly creative works need inspiration or you are stuck staring at a blank canvas with no idea how to link concepts or ideas. If you just paint portraits, like Chuck, you don’t need all that much inspiration you just need a hard work ethic. I need both. What motivates me is seeing other artists who do similar work to mine and who are making it big. I have big ambitions and these push me to work hard at my studio practice and my persona of “artist.”
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
Artists such as Martin Wittfooth, Walton Ford, Derek Nobbs, Andy Kehoe, Lindsey Carr, Charmaine Olivia, Craig Larotonda, and even Marilyn Manson influence my work by creating fantastic imagery and creating their own myths and their own naratives that resonate. They inspire me to become a better artist.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
When I’m not making art I’m usually doing something outside. I like to garden, hike, camp, mountain bike, go to the beach. I do some fun things with my dog, Aleu. He is a Malamute/Samoyed mix and we go dog sledding, skijoring, and bikejoring. I also like to brew my own beer. Right now I have a blueberry mead in the carboy. I also love to go to concerts, music festivals, and see live music.
Grace Scott is an inspired native Michigan artist currently residing in Grand Rapids, MI. Her work possesses a magnetism that grows from a deep connection and curiosity with nature that began in childhood. Science, magic, symbols, and folklore are woven together to construct meditative images that bare the strangeness of dreams and yet comment on current issues.
Grace has received a Bachelors Degree in Traditional Illustration and also a Masters Degree in Fine Art Painting from Kendall College of Art and Design. Grace currently teaches traditional rendering techniques for the Illustration Department at Kendall.
A published illustrator and designer, her work can also be found on local Michigan breweries’ beer labels, business’s logos and promotional gear, and in regional galleries throughout Michigan. She enjoys commissioned work, illustration/design jobs, and also progressing her body of work with experimentation and constant research.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.