Briefly describe the work you do.
My most recent work consists of oil paintings that explore art therapy and the body. I consider all of my paintings to be a unique approach to self portraiture.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up in Altoona, Pennsylvania where I lived with my mom until I was eighteen. Looking back, I can’t think of a specific moment that I realized I wanted to be an artist. I did a lot of arts and crafts with my aunt and I remember always wanting to draw.
I was not social in school and still have little interest in socializing. This made me very observant and self critical. I began working as soon as I was old enough. I worked in fast food on top of school for four years. I think that is what made me an anxious person. All of this impacted my work as an artist, because I had a lot of time to contemplate what others were thinking about.
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.“
My current living situation allows me the space I need to make art. I live alone with my greyhound and two cats. I assume that is a pretty typical studio set up for most artists. The front room in my house is unused so I keep all of my supplies there.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I didn’t know there would be so much writing about what I do. I still struggle with talking about myself and my work.
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 recently graduated from Penn State Altoona in May 2015. Currently, I am working two retail jobs averaging fifty-five hours a week. I started my second job to pay off student loans, so I worry that I am not producing enough work. I have been working on the same painting I started two months ago which is frustrating. I can maybe find a couple hours a week to get some painting done.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Five years ago, I was a high school student also attending the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center for Visual Arts. I was mostly drawing and learning Photoshop. I thought I was going to go to college for graphic design but got into art therapy right before graduating high school. I spent one year at Seton Hill University studying art therapy then transferred home to Penn State Altoona where I majored in Visual Arts and minored in Psychology. I did not start painting until my second year of college. I never liked painting and always thought I would be drawing. My first painting instructor encouraged me to stay positive and open minded about learning a whole new medium. I have not made a decent drawing since that class. During my senior year I worked on my first solo exhibition How Things Are. My last semester was when I decided I didn’t want to be an art therapist and wanted to focus on painting. Studying art as therapy influenced my work and helped me better convey ideas so that viewers could openly interpret my paintings. I would say one thing that has stayed the same is my attitude towards my work. I am very self critical and often talk myself out of ideas. Sometimes I am very ambitious about the projects I take on, and other times I am not confident in my own abilities as an artist. In a way this is a good thing because I want to make better work so I push myself to continue learning.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I am most inspired by contemporary figure painters. I often reference Michael Borremens. I spend a lot of time just looking at other artist’s work. I have been told I waste a lot of time looking at other artists’ paintings rather than diving into my own. My work would not be what it is if I had not discovered other artists with ideas similar to mine. I never would have gone through with a lot of ideas if I thought that no one would get what I was trying to say.
I had a professor my senior year who was really supportive of every choice I made, and he made sure I was aware that he understood the psychological aspect of my paintings. That was really refreshing because it was the most productive I had ever been, however it was incredibly stressful knowing a lot of people were about to see what I was investing all of my time into. I am lucky to have a family that supports what I want to do and believes that I can make something out of this.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I thought I was set on being an art therapist. I knew that wasn’t really what I wanted, but it took me a while to admit it to myself, and others, that I just wanted to be a painter. When people ask me what I want to do, I feel happier saying artist rather than therapist just to avoid the, “What can you do with art?” question. I have found that a lot more people are interested in what I do.
I am not interested in much else. I don’t think I would be happy in any other field of work.
Amanda Pulcine, USA, born 1993 is a practicing artist based in Altoona Pennsylvania who creates drawings, paintings, and sculptures in both traditional and digital mediums. Amanda graduated from Penn State Altoona in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Art Studies. Her work has been displayed in the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art in downtown Altoona and has appeared in the Penn State Altoona art magazine Hard Freight. Amanda was also a 2013 recipient of the Zoller Art Award at Penn State Altoona. She recently won a Howard Award of Excellence for her piece Self Portrait displayed during the Nebraska National Undergraduate Juried Art Exhibition September 2015. Her most recent work is a series of oil paintings that explore art therapy and the body. Amanda hopes to attend graduate school for Fine Arts.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.