Thursday, July 05, 2007

Interview with HOME section, Spokesman-Review

In a more narrative format:
Art form: Photography and Encaustic Painting
Best know for: Painting on X-Ray prints and hand-colored B/W infrared photography
Major art/professional influences/why: I was born and raised in Chicago; attended the School of the Art Institute and graduated from the University of Illinois. My working class background is a major influence. When I think of growing up in Chicago, I think of catching fireflies in the summertime, snow, and Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Chicago”.

HOG Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders:

Growing up in a city forever colors your soul. It profoundly affects your world view. I love cities; I love the vibration and the manic energy. I love Spokane and all the curious little shops and streets, the ever-changing views, and of course, the energy.

Two words stay with me from my art-school period in Chicago: obsession and passion. I have come to accept the belief that if you are not obsessed with something it’s tough to stick with it. Perseverance is the key for me, to persevere under any and all circumstances. The human spirit will prevail under stressful and dire circumstances, but you’ve got to be passionate about it, passionate about creating art and a little obsessive. I think there is a fine line between obsessiveness and just being annoying.

Passion—is the other thing I think that keeps me going. I have always worked in the creative arena, whether it was teaching computer graphics, working on films in post-production as a 2D artist in California, working in the art departments of newspapers, or working as freelance graphic designer, I have always held creative ‘day’ jobs while pursuing my own art.

Photographers/Professors at the School of Art & Architecture, University of Illinois such as Esther Parada, Joe Jachna and the Chicago surrealists Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum were big influences.

When did you start making art/or what made you decided to do this art form: I have been making art as far back as I can remember. Once as a seventh grader at St. Maurice Catholic School in Chicago, I failed to complete my “art” homework. My teacher, a Roman Catholic nun, slapped me across the face while exclaiming, “Of all people, you should have finished it!” As corny as it sounds, I considered what she said and came to believe in myself as an artist from that point on. I wanted to attend the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and ended up in the Fashion Design program. When I realized I couldn’t sew, I transferred to the University of Illinois and obtained a degree in Communications Design with a minor in photography. I loved photography from the moment I picked up a camera. I loved capturing the image, loved working in the darkroom, and was amazed by the magic of darkroom chemicals.

I was in a bad car accident in 1985, and when I saw my X-Rays, realized they were only large negatives, so I went into the darkroom and contact printed them, and started to paint on them with oils.

Process: I love texture and feeling as opposed to the slick smoothness of a black and white photographic print. Trying to go a bit deeper than superficial “decorative” art is what I’m after. A mood, a feeling, a thought captured. With photography-- time, space, and light are captured. That’s a great feeling. When it’s rare, it’s very rare. With painting, there is only one original and that is still special in our modern world of throw-away goods, disposable everything, and cheap mass-produced consumer products.

What's new: I have been painting with encaustics for the last two years, attempting to marry my photography with painting and intermixing the two media. Using collage and words have always been a factor in my art.

What keeps you creating: Passion. Without passion, it’s not going to happen. It also helps immensely to have an understanding mate—which my husband, Dave is. He is extremely supportive. Without that support, I think pursuing a creative livelihood is more difficult. Working as an artist is achievable, but much more difficult. Understanding and emotional support from family and friends is paramount.

What else/burning things you want to add:

I was chosen as the Lavender Festival artist for 2008, so I’ll be at the Lavender Festival in Cusick, Washington, July 6 and 7 taking photos, capturing images of the fields of lavender and getting that ethereal, hand-colored black and white image for next year’s Lavender Festival poster.

I’m inviting everyone to visit North Country Artist Trails this summer; it’s an open-ended artist studio tour of artists in Northeastern Washington, patterned after the Heritage Trails of North Carolina. Our next big studio tours are July 28 and 29, and August 25 and 26. Pick up a brochure at many hotels, visitor centers, and at the MAC in Spokane. Shop the Frontier is another artist-driven entrepreneurial website, All of the artists from North Country Artist Trails will be on the Shop the Frontier website very soon. Watch for it this web-event! We will also have a North Country Artist Trails Art Fest in Chewelah on September 15, so watch for news on that. Visit our website, for more information.

Other great websites: Megan Murphy has done a fabulous job creating affordable ORIGINAL art that is down-loadable, an excellent idea for 2D artists.

Another thing: I had a booth at ArtFest in Spokane this past June. An artist across the lane from me had a great banner, it said: Be Original. Buy Original. Invest in Original Art.

IN general, artists are the most educated and poorly paid folks amongst the general population. I think people have to realize that when a lawyer or doctor charges anywhere from $125.00 or $200.00 per hour no one blinks, but when an artist charges $25.00 per hour, everyone has a hissy fit! Artists are their own worst enemies. We have to believe in ourselves, in our value.

Also, art supplies have gone up at least 1000% since 1980 in my estimation. The trend now is for everyone to confirm themselves, believe in themselves, and “love what you do, the money will follow”. This has transpired into a glut of artists. Sometimes I think the only people attending art shows or gallery openings are other artists to see what’s selling and what’s not. When people ask how much a piece of work costs, it’s usually another artist trying to see if their prices for their own artwork are in the ballpark.

All that aside, being an artist is a job you NEVER retire from and I love it!

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