Briefly describe the work you do.
I am a still life painter, I choose objects that visually attract me and remind me of an experience, or person that’s significant in my life. I paint directly from life, situating the object(s) in a view that feels right, and paint what I see.
Painting is an experience that demands all of my attention and alertness; I have to hold the same emotional connection to the objects as I do with the process, and substance itself. I love how an objects physical presence can become a catalyst for underlying memories and emotions, exploring this I place the figures in the paintings on a ground of color that has a resonance with grey. I am putting them in a new space for consideration. The works titles often evolve from the flow of thought that memory can induce.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I am from eastern North Dakota, the landscape is extremely flat- simple, but intense. Although I am not a landscape painter the landscape has influenced my work. Similar to the landscape, my paintings might initially be viewed as minimal, but become complex as subtleties in color, form, and space are revealed. The flatness of North Dakota has had a great impact on how I position objects, often I find myself trying to view objects with some form of foreshortening, finding planes to view.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I am more of a ‘traditional’ studio artist than I had ever imagined! I stand in front of an easel, mixing each color, painting from life. I find that when I leave the ‘studio’ where I make the body of my work, the studio does not stop. I have sketchbooks in the kitchen, bedroom, and in my bag, so if something strikes me I don’t have to bring it back into my physical studio space. Because the subject matter in my work is found intuitively in my daily life, I find that I am constantly making mental notes when I see something that has the potential to become a painting. If that mental note sticks with me then I know I want to paint it. The lower level of my still life table acts as a visual sketchbook where I place the potential items.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I don’t think I consciously knew what virtues can come with making work, and how it gives me a much stronger sense of self. The foundation of why I paint is the experience of physically dealing with a substance- fear, doubt, tension and enjoyment teetering. I find myself having to reach deep internally, painting requires a sense of unknowing, and vulnerably to access a deeper level of understanding.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I find it very important mentally to hold regular studio hours, arriving in the studio approximately the same time daily- from there I let the painting dictate. I paint best during the day and find evenings better for drawing, reading, or admin.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
For a long time my work was actually based on family photos. During a final critique during my post baccalaureate, I was encouraged to work from life. That really stuck with me. I started to make still life paintings one day a week outside of my normal practice. It didn’t take long for me to see that this is really what I wanted to do, and the results were evident of that. I suppose the work is the same in that I am still making work that is connecting back to people and experiences that mean something to me. The subjects are the same, but the content is different.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I gain strength in my practice when I am able to read about other painters and their perspectives on painting; finding connections with their thoughts, as we each find our own way in the images we make. Painters who’s paintings influence me would be Giorgio Morandi and Gwen John, because I am able to actually see them seeing, that really excites me. I love reading poetry and have been influenced by Seamus Heaney’s use of repetitive words, in his ability to use them in a non-repetitive manner. Lydia Davis’s Short stories as well, which to me are small snippets of information, which can linger for long periods of time. In both these painters and writers there is a sense of consideration of each word, or mark in its use and placement; immediacy and patience seem to exist in both forms.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
For career day in third grade I went as an artist, it has just always been my desire. If I were to do something else I would have to work with my hands, so I assume baking or a line of craftwork.
Mollie Douthit (b. 1986, Grand Forks, ND) is a painter who currently resides in Ireland. Her work has been published in 2013 New American Paintings, The Irish Arts Review, and the Irish Independent. Reviews of Douthit’s work have been published in the Irish Times, and Sunday Times Culture. Her work is included in both public and private collections.
In 2013 she was the recipient of the Hennessy Craig Award from the Royal Hibernian Academy. In 2014 Douthit’s work was advanced to Stage II of the John Moores Painting Prize, and was highlighted through Saatchi Art’s ‘Invest in Art Series’. Completing her MFA from The Burren College of Art, Douthit was shortlisted for Saatchi Art’s New Sensation Prize.
2014 Exhibitions include the Continental Shift- Saatchi Gallery, London, The Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, and If I show you the roses-Rubicon Projects, Dublin. January 2015 Douthit held a solo exhibition at the RHA Ashford Gallery in Dublin. Douthit currently resides in Callan Ireland as the Tony O’Malley artist in residence.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.