Briefly describe the work you do.
My work is a deconstructed abstraction of the figure defined by creating something new from something old and making it new again. I use technology in the process, like 3D imaging and 2D software, but the final image is a tangible painting in oil or a 3D print. My vision is a splintered perspective of humanity. I am interested in the influence of imagery on brain circuitry. Maintaining one foot in the past and another in the future, I call into question how we perceive art by tracing a loop historically through image, technology and science.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
After two decades creating animation for award-winning Hollywood Blockbusters, I returned to traditional mediums and original content through painting. My career as an artist working in Visual Effects, Video Games and Animation inspires the “peak shift” palette, faceted surface and idiosyncratic portrayal through paint. If you have ever seen a “behind the scenes” of the work on a movie using computer generated animation, you will have seen the wire frame mesh surface I emulate in my paintings. Like the subliminal messages of advertising, movies and commercialism, the aesthetic components of my work note the influence of technology on our everyday life.
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 very much a hermit when it comes to the studio. I can stay in the studio for days on end and not leave. Then, I get busy with other things and do not touch the palette for days. I get a little crazy if I am not creating, so on those days I am not painting I am building something on the computer or envisioning a new project, commission or piece. When the work is at its best, the studio floor is littered with tear sheets and dirty paper towels. I live in my space, so I have to try and keep it fairly sorted. Right now, I am working on a collaboration with Lolita Lorenzo, three new portrait commissions, and three new pieces. So things are very busy and messy.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I spend every Monday just doing “desk work.” I find it to be a necessary evil. Answering emails, promoting on social networks, research, blogging, following up on inquiries, press requests, collectors, newsletters, promoting shows, my e-shop, applying for grants, etc. It’s all very businesslike.
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?
When the feeling strikes is the best time to do the work. I like late night when things are quiet, but I live with my boyfriend now in an open loft with no walls and it would be difficult to have music and the lights on at 4 AManymore. I believe I am always painting in my head, but I think you are talking about the actual practice. I feel a need to produce work, volumes of work, to close that gap between what I see in my mind and the process of getting it on the canvas. So, I feel an urgency to work in some capacity either on the canvas or the computer every single day. I cannot work more than 6 hours at a time, though. That is my limit even though sometimes my brain wants to keep going. If I force more than 6 hours a stretch, I look at what I did the next day with a big WTF?
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My work has change drastically over the years. I began studying painting in 2007 with Cheryl Kline of the Kline Academy in a strict instruction of sight-size and classical painting. I painted realistic imagery using a limited palette, and lots of layers and glazes. One piece took a very long time to finish. In 2010, I entered the MFA program at LCAD. My mentors Aaron Smith and Kent Williams inspired me to use more colors and push the paint around in a looser application. After making entirely new work for a year, I left the program in 2012 to regroup. I spent a year on independent studio doing what I wanted without any interference of opinions. I allowed myself to do anything in the studio and break all rules. Some people call this deskilling. For me it was like shedding the rules, so I could invent. I found my current figurative abstraction using geometric surfaces to describe the form during that year, working on my own. Ironically, this abstraction relies heavily on the glazing techniques I learned from Cheryl, in the beginning of my journey, as I paint three glazes of pigment to get a luminous quality for each geometric facet. People who sees the work in person usually say, “Wow they are so much better in person.” I believe my work would not get this kind of response if I had not started at the beginning, learning everything I could about the craft of painting before I played with applications.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My mother was artistic. My father was an industrial engineer. I think I got a little bit of both of this in my makeup. Close friends have always helped me hone in on what is working as I create a piece. I think a good artist is always questioning. My close confidants can confirm that nagging in my stomach that I know to be true, but for whatever reason am not listening to. Writers and words are a big influence, especially those concerned with the role of technology and its influence on our behaviors and how we mirror the spaces we live in to the spaces we create in our minds. I have a folder in my bookmarks called JUNKIE where I keep all of my links to artists, philosophers, writers, etc. Here is a list of some of the recent links in the JUNKIE box: Ray Kurzweil, Ernest Becker, Geoffrey West, Marshall Mcluhan, Steven Berlin Johnson, and Malcolm Gladwell.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I am currently a full-time professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts teaching animation. It does split my time between teaching and painting, but I believe the pedagogy and exposure to the students fuels my work. Otherwise, I would be operating in a vacuum.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.