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Studio Sunday: Curtis Anthony Bozif
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We have an exciting Studio Sunday interview this week with Curtis Anthony Bozif! He is a Chicago based artist who has a solo exhibition of new works currently on view at the Evanston Art Center. The show opened on August 17th and will run through September 22nd.

Find more of his art on his website or on Instagram @curtisanthonybozif

We are pleased to have featured you in one of our previous issues, but you've got some new things going on now to share. How has your work developed in the last few years? What are you creating now? 

I think my work has undergone a kind of distilling since last we spoke. A simple observation would be that the paintings have become more monochromatic and less compositional; more textured and less graphic. I’m focused on building surfaces and less concerned with what I’d call picture making. To this end, I’ve been using a lot of metallic and iridescent colors. They have a sheen to them that accentuates the texture and surface of a painting; its physicality. Metallic and iridescent colors  shimmer. This causes the appearance of a painting to change relative to where you’re standing when you look at it. As you move around, the angle at which the surface absorbs or reflects light changes; the color shifts. A certain part of a painting may be obscured by a bright reflection while another part may appear to fall into shadow. In a sense, this kind of painting is hard to see. It’s hard to know. 

What kind of studio space are you working in? What is important for you to have in it? 

My wife and I recently moved into a new place here in Chicago. I now have a whole room dedicated to my studio. Definitely the most important thing for me to have in it is space. Because I make relatively large paintings, I need to be able to step back and see the whole thing at once. I also need to be able to move around and see it from different distances and from different perspectives. When a painting gives me trouble, this has always proved helpful; looking at it from a different perspective. Sometimes the hardest way to see a painting is to look at it head on.

Another thing that’s important is light. For me, this has always been the most frustrating part about setting up a new working environment. Balancing natural light with artificial, the temperature of the light, the intensity, and where to position the lights to reduce glare, I still haven’t figured it out. I‘ve never be completely happy with the light in any of my studios.

One last thing I’ll mention is my old CD player. It’s a simple stereo boombox I got when I was in high school. I’ve had it with me in all my studios. At the Kansas City Art Institute, Northwestern, and the string of different places I’ve had since then. I think music is important to a lot of painters because painting is a solitary activity that requires a lot of time and attention. Having something to listen to can help prevent loneliness, help you pass the time, and help you to focus. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Steve Reich, Ingram Marshall, Third Coast Percussion, and the soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, composed and performed by Ernst Reijseger. I think of the repetition and layering that is so characteristic of this kind of music as analogues to the repetitive mark-making and layering in my paintings. This has helped me to think about my process in some interesting new ways.

How do you maintain a consistent schedule with your creative practice? Do you have certain habits or routines that you follow?

The first thing to mention is I have a nine-to-five job. Any consistent schedule, unfortunately, has to be worked around that. In his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, David Lynch recounts Bushnell Keeler’s expression: “If you want to get one hour of good painting in you have to have four hours of uninterrupted time.” Like Lynch, I agree with this statement, but the exact times, one or four hours, doesn’t really matter. The point is that excess time is essential. It’s essential for play and for accident and for chance, but sadly, uninterrupted time is very difficult to make happen. 

So weekends are precious to me; I’m usually up by seven. I’ll make a pot of coffee and read for an hour or two before I start painting. Research has always been an important aspect to my studio practice and reading is a big part of that. For instance, I just completed a series of paintings inspired by the Great Lakes. Over the course of making this work I read dozens of books on the subject. In my research I discovered an author named Jerry Dennis. He’s based out of Traverse City, Michigan and has written extensively about the Great Lakes. I found I had a strong affinity for the way he often approached the lakes, which is to say, on a geological time scale. I was so taken by his writing that I reached out to him and we developed a correspondence and that’s been really rewarding. In a way that’s not easy to describe, I’ve always thought of painting as a way of thinking; a way of knowing, but so too is poetry, music, history, and science. Learning how people who work in other disciplines approach—and ultimately come to know—the same things you’re dealing with in your own work can help to develop a more complete and nuanced understanding of those very things and, of course, your work.

Coffee and reading wake me up and help me to focus, after that, I’m ready to paint. I try and make this a quick and painless transition. It’s important to me to be able to walk into my studio, grab my tools, and immediately get to work. Here, I’d like to quote Lynch again. In the same book as before he writes: “It’s crucial to have a setup. [...] So that at any given moment when you get an idea that you have the place and the tools to make it happen. If you don’t have a setup there are many times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together and the idea just sits there and festers. Over time it will go away. You didn’t fulfil it and that’s just a heartache.” Today, there are so many distractions vying for our attention, there’s so much noise, to have the time and space to dedicate to your work and where you can focus, and what Lynch calls a “setup”, is so important. 

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What is one piece of creative or business advice that you would give to your younger self? Is there a quote or mantra that is especially meaningful to you right now? 

I would tell my younger self to ignore, or mostly ignore, his grad school professors. It’s important that what you’re doing is enjoyable. I’m talking about the physical act of making art. What you do with your hands and eyes when you make art, is it enjoyable? What you do with your body, do you like doing that? It’s something that rarely gets discussed in art school. For example, when I was at Northwestern, I started making video art and my professors responded positively to it, but looking at the world through a camera, staring at a screen, and clicking a mouse all day made me really depressed. I ultimately stopped making art.

Similarly, I’d tell my younger self to think hard about the sustainability of his studio practice. By that I mean: is what you’re doing, are the ideas you’re engaging with, are they generative? Do they foster a healthy curiosity? Or, are you backing yourself into an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual deadend? If making the art you’re making is no longer enjoyable, or healthy, if it’s just paralysis, dread, and boredom that you feel upon entering your studio, then you should probably be doing something else.

Finally, you have a show coming up - can you tell us about the details and any other events you have lined up for the rest of 2019? 

My solo show, Great Lakes, at the Evanston Art Center, runs from August 17th to September 22nd. As I alluded to earlier, this work is the culmination of a year long effort—through research and careful observation—to engage with the Great Lakes and to translate these experiences into the paintings.

One way I’ve tried to do this is by thinking about the lakes in terms of their scale. By scale I mean their size relative to the human body; their time relative to human time. People often try and describe the Great Lakes by listing a bunch of figures like: they contain one fifth of the surface liquid freshwater on the planet. This sounds like a lot, but of all the water on the planet, only two and a half percent is freshwater. So what does one fifth of two and a half percent mean? It means that the freshwater in the Great Lakes, as a natural resource, is both abundant and exceedingly rare. Similarly, we think of the Great Lakes as being very old; melt water from the end of the last ice age, but this melt occurred just 12,500 years ago, while the last ice age lasted almost a 100,000 years and the earth, it’s over 4.5 billion years old. On a geological time scale, the Great Lakes, like human beings, just appeared. Reconciling these time scales is impossible. If painting is a way of knowing, these paintings have been a way for me to know the Great Lakes, but to know the Great Lakes can often times feel like an exercise in abstract thinking.

One of the ways I’ve tried to translate the irreconcilability of these scales is by making relatively large paintings built of dense layers of minutely-sized, seemingly random marks across their entire surface. It’s my hope that this kind of scale and intensity suggests a vast, infinite space, and unknowable depth. As I mentioned the last time we spoke, I’ll often employ sticks in lieu of paint brushes when I’m working. This technique, along with embedding different materials like sand and iron filings into my paints, creates a highly textured surface that can often times feel more natural than human made; like the surface of a rock face. Layers of thin glazes and metallic and iridescent paints enhance these textures by catching the light, they shimmer, obscuring the image, and for this reason these paintings can be hard to see. I’m interested in the tension between the depth created by these layers and the flatness that’s emphasized by the sheen of the iridescent surface. You have to negotiate the way the light is interacting with the surface in order to see past it, to go deeper. It’s not unlike looking at water. 

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Create! Magazine introduces RijksCreative, an initiative from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

We often get questions from our community from people who are interested in art, but are wondering how to get started. Whether you are a practicing studio artist, a passionate hobbyist, or even if you’ve never picked up a brush, we always love to recommend looking into free online resources to take your creative skills to the next level. To this end, Create! Magazine is excited to share a series of art tutorials on the YouTube channel, RijksCreative, an initiative from the Rijksmuseum, a renowned art museum in the heart of Amsterdam.

About RijksCreative

As part of an initiative that brings both greater awareness and appreciation of the vast collection of masterpieces exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, the RijksCreative YouTube channel allows you to delve deeper into the style of prominent figures throughout art history. On RijksCreative you’ll find how-to videos in which art teachers from the museum demonstrate the steps to creating compositions like Rembrandt or painting self portraits like Van Gogh. Each video explains one art technique in detail so that even beginners can follow along! 

Check out the RijksCreative channel here.

One recent video from this series is the ‘How to create a Van Gogh self portrait’ lesson from Ruud Lanfermeijer. Make sure to read the video notes for a materials list and you’ll be ready to start!

About the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the Dutch national museum dedicated to the arts and history. It is located in the museum square close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw. The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. The Rijksmuseum has on display over 8,000 objects and a total collection of over 1 million. A walk through the galleries is a journey through 800 years of art and history. Some of the museum’s masterpieces include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands and welcomes over 2.5 million visitors each year.

For more information about the museum please visit their website.

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Interview with Pamela Rounis from SAD Mag
Portrait by Lauren D Zbarsky.

Portrait by Lauren D Zbarsky.

We always love hearing about women who are creative entrepreneurs and especially enjoy those who also work in indie publishing! I was excited to have the opportunity recently to interview Pamela Rounis of SAD Mag, an independent Vancouver based publication that focuses on art and design. Read on for real talk on changing career paths early on, prioritizing work commitments, and the future of SAD Magazine as well as the podcast she hosts, called the SADCAST!

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How did you get involved with SAD Mag? What is your role within the magazine? Can you give our readers a brief overview of SAD Mag’s mission?  

SAD Mag is an independent Vancouver publication featuring stories, art, and design. Founded in 2009, we publish local contemporary and emerging artists and writers with a focus on inclusivity of voices and views. We are a non-profit and volunteer run. Our main mission is to elevate the creative scene here in Vancouver and give emerging creatives a place to get published and noticed. I started doing design for SAD around 2012 and eventually became creative director and co-publisher. When Katie Stewart (co-publisher) asked me to join SAD it seemed like mostly everyone there was a writer or photographer and none of these folks’ primary interest was design so it was a real opportunity for me to be able to change everything from the logo to the size of the magazine itself. This July, after nearly ten years, Katie, Michelle Cyca, and I stepped down as co-publishers to give a new generation the reigns. We will all remain on the board of directors, however, and I will continue to host our podcast, SADCAST. Syd Danger has taken over for me as the new creative director and co-publisher along with Madeline Barber as editor and co-publisher. 

What has been the most exciting aspect of working with SAD Mag? What are some of the challenges? 

The most exciting aspect is working with the artists, illustrators, and photographers on the creative for the magazine. It’s a lot of fun reading the pieces and matching them with the right person and briefing them on how to bring the piece to life. Each issue is themed which also brings a unique challenge, finding ways to stretch that theme across an entire issue in a way that keeps a reader’s interest. Our biggest challenge is the same as any magazine, gaining and retaining subscribers. It’s funny how many people will come to our parties and spend $30 on drinks, but don’t buy the magazine! We do have many loyal subscribers though it’s always a challenge to get the word out, especially since we’re volunteer run and sales are no one’s passion project. 

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How do you balance your various commitments considering that in addition to working with SAD Mag and hosting SADCAST, you also have a full-time role as an Associate Creative Director at an agency? 

It’s been challenging to balance everything which is what led me to the ultimate decision to step down from most of my duties at SAD after 7 years. I think there was a lot of sacrifice that went into my being able to do everything. Certainly my husband thinks I’m a workaholic and I work most weekends. It’s not a lifestyle I would recommend and I think that’s the harsh truth about a lot of successful people. This past year I had my first panic attack and I said to myself that something needs to give, I can’t do it all even though I want to. Being promoted to ACD at Rethink came with a lot of new responsibilities also, so it just became overwhelming. I think for a lot of the time my motto was "better done than perfect". And that's really the only way things kept rolling.

Are there any exciting things coming up with the magazine or with personal projects for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?  

I am very excited to see what Syd and Maddy do with the magazine. The next issue, their first as co-pubs, is appropriately themed Future and it’s definitely one to watch out for. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to make the SADCAST better than ever, and take it a bit easier, haha!

By Alicia Puig

Portrait by Lauren D Zbarsky.

Studio Sunday: Michelle Lee Rigell

It is the last week of our show ‘Pilot’ with PxP Contemporary so this Studio Sunday highlights one of our invited artists, Michelle Lee Rigell. She is a contemporary realist painter who is based in St. Louis and we have featured two works from her ‘1,000 Crane Project’ in the exhibition. Read on to learn more about her creative practice, studio space, and exhibitions for the rest of the year!

Bio

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Michelle Lee Rigell is a St. Louis-based contemporary realism artist who works in acrylics. Since 2015, Rigell has shown her work in several locations in the Greater St. Louis area including SOHA Gallery, Art Saint Louis and fundraising art events such as Wall Ball for Artscope and Art of PAWS for St. Louis Effort for AIDS. Rigell also volunteers as an instructor and is the assistant director of Arts As Healing Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings the therapeutic benefits of art to cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses.

Statement

I tend to gravitate toward subjects that evoke nostalgia and whimsy. I am currently working on a project called the "1000 Crane Project" because of my childhood love for origami. When I wasn't drawing or painting, I was constantly folding origami. My goal is to capture the beauty and precision of origami while incorporating the flawed nature of wrinkled papers and used wrappers and labels of some of my favorite childhood American products.

Cranes are also a symbol of good fortune and longevity in Korean culture. They have been an apt subject matter in my life because rediscovering my passion for painting began as a way to cope with my miscarriages and difficulties with infertility. I am a firm believer that art can provide healing, and I want to be able to help others heal by providing a sense of sentimentality and humor through my art process and experiences.  

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How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. As a child I wanted to be an animator and graphics designer like my uncle, the other artist in our family, but in high school, I focused on getting into medical school. I was convinced by the adults in my life that this was a more practical career path, but ultimately I chose not to pursue a career in medicine after graduating from college.

After moving to St. Louis for my husband’s medical training, my mother-in-law encouraged me to take art classes. When I signed up, it never crossed my mind to pursue a career in art because I didn’t have any formal education in art and I had lost a lot of confidence in myself. Around the same time, I had a miscarriage and my second not too long after, so it was a period filled with a lot of hurt. Fortunately through the classes, I met my mentor and began volunteering for the Arts As Healing Foundation, reigniting my passion for art and opening new possibilities for me. I went on a long and roundabout journey back to an art career, but now I am sharing my love for art to others who need it and love it with more appreciation and passion than when I was younger.

We love that your work is so fun and whimsical with hints of nostalgia. Can you tell us about what inspires you and the story behind your series of origami cranes specifically?

A few years ago for Christmas, my mentor gifted me a glass jar with the Chinese character for happiness and good fortune on it. Along with art, I also loved origami growing up, so I decided to fill it up with cranes, which then led to an even better idea of painting them.

Before my “1000 Crane Project”, I was already painting nostalgic subjects like record players, musicians, vintage signs using earthy, dark tones; I grew up listening to a lot of Oldies music. But as I gained more confidence in myself and my work, I wanted to experiment with bolder compositions and colors. I had found the perfect subject that was not only iconic and symbolic but had been a big part of my childhood as well. Instead of using crisp, new sheets of paper, I thought it would be more interesting and challenging to make cranes with wrinkled, brightly colored candy wrappers that are sometimes more plastic and wax than paper. It would give me more opportunities to play with lights and darks to create all the tears and odd folds. And who doesn’t love candy? As long as I can bring a smile to the viewers’ faces, I know I’ve done a good job.

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I fold all the cranes I paint first. Occasionally I’ll go on a folding spree and fold whatever piece of paper or candy wrapper that catches my eye, so that later if I need inspiration or a new idea I can go through ones I’ve already folded. Sometimes I have to do a little cutting and taping supplemented with thumbnail sketches especially with the candy wrappers, so I can get the right labels and patterns to show through. I prefer to paint from my still-life set up, but I also take photos to refer back to because the cranes are tiny.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

Currently my studio is in our guest bedroom. I’ve tried almost every other room in our house before settling into where I am now. The guest bedroom has the best lighting as it faces north with lots of windows. I try to take advantage of the natural lighting as much as I can, so my colors don’t shift. For me, lots of sunshine leads to lots of motivation and productivity. I would eventually like a space where I can make larger paintings and move more freely, but I also like being comfortable and having everything I need at home.

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What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

One of my favorite things about being an artist is being able to express myself but also being able to have a safe place for me to tune everything out. The other is that I never stop learning as an artist. I’m continuously finding ways to improve my technique and to challenge myself to elevate my artwork.

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I recently finished a piece that will be up for silent auction on August 3rd at this great fundraiser, Art of PAWS by St. Louis Effort for AIDS. The proceeds help patients care for their furry companions so they can focus financially on their healthcare. I will also be in a four-man exhibition at the Angad Arts Hotel in downtown St. Louis from August 2nd to October 26th.

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Women Working in the Arts: Marie-Odile
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For our first-ever women’s issue this past spring (which is still available for purchase here) I profiled four young and entrepreneurial women working in the arts to highlight those not only creating work, but also those who are supporting artists as curators, gallerists, educators, writers, and more! I’ve kept this series going on our blog and am excited to share this interview with gallery manager and art influencer Marie-Odile, or @imagine_moi on Instagram.

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Bio

My name is Marie-Odile (it’s a peculiar name, I admit!) and I was born after 1990 in France. It feels like I’ve always been passionate about art. After a few years away from what I believe is my path, I dropped out of HEC Montréal Business School to go study art history and earn a master’s degree at la Sorbonne in Paris. Now, I am a gallery manager in Paris with the background of an art historian.

I am half French and half Brazilian so ethnic mix and hybridization run through my veins. During my time at la Sorbonne, I saw the opportunity to study the history of Brazil through an art historical lens. I wrote two theses related to Brazilian art history and contemporary art. My first essay focused on the study of religious syncretism present in the art of Thiago Martins de Melo. My second one was a critique of the itinerant exhibition Imagine Brazil. I consider art to be a window to important matters such as feminism, history, the LGBTQI+ rights movements, inclusivity, and even geopolitics!

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Choose one woman in the arts from history or who is working today and tell us about why she inspires you or has had an impact on you.

I was always amazed by Peggy Guggenheim and the fact that she had a significant role in art history. Everywhere she went, she left something to be remembered. She built strong friendships that encouraged her to open her horizons. Peggy started an art gallery at 39! She supported Surrealism and Abstraction and took part in the writing of American art history with the Abstract Expressionist movement. For her, collecting artworks was both a way to support artists and to share them with the world. Her ambition to open a museum was realized with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, which was later donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in the late 70’s. She had the guts and the desire to share her passion for the arts and to take part in its modern history.

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I would love to hear a bit more about your Instagram account too. When did you start it and was it always focused on art?

By the end of 2017, I started to think about my own “personal branding” and how I could carve out a place for myself in the art world. I had no contacts to begin with, only my personality and passion, so I decided that Instagram appeared to be the perfect social media channel with which I could connect to art lovers around the world. I imagined what I could do with my profile and then I worked to create the account and grow it to what is now.

No, it wasn't focused on art first because it took me a little while to understand how it works. I go to exhibitions, museums, and galleries on a regular basis. This is a habit I kept from my art history student years, when I had moved to Paris and got struck by the possibility of seeing art anywhere all the time. I started to share my experiences through my stories and I received messages like: "Thank you, I can visit and see art through your Instagram" from people far away. It kind of moved me. So then I started to read every article I could to understand Instagram algorithms and how to hashtag, for example.

What kind of content do you feature?

On @imagine_moi you will see pictures of my museum, gallery, and sometimes art fair visits, enlivened by funny art selfies. I curate little imaginary collections of artworks, mixing styles and periods according to a theme. Among the art pictures, you will encounter some selfies and casual life moments too. I am a woman and so not choosing between strictly posting art culture or casual selfies and life moments is kind of a feminist committed position of mine. I think it’s important for me to stop thinking that I have to chose in order to avoid being discredited.

My goal is not to show off with culture and knowledge. Not at all. Instead, I want to spread a desire for and curiosity about art. I’d like to see interest in art blossom in people’s minds, even more for those who think it’s not for them. I love thinking that I made someone want to go see an art show, visit a museum, or see art anytime, anywhere. Very often, in museums, I hear people saying  “ Well, I could have done that”... and I think, hmm, in reality no. Before saying this, one must think about what the mainstream art of that period was like. If you were told the context of creation for the Malevich’s Black Square painting, maybe you wouldn’t think he is a con artist!

What do you love about the platform or dislike?

What I love about this platform is that I can use it to interact with people from across the world. I even started a discussion group with women from Cologne, London, San Diego, and Milan who work in the arts as well. We share art every day and it allows me to have a sneak peek into what they see at art fairs and biennales when I can't go because, let's be honest, it wouldn't really be environmentally friendly nor cheap to go to all those events. I love the idea of spotting artists that are not yet in galleries or very well known. I sometimes buy artworks from them to start my own collection. It's my way of being supportive.

I have to admit that I find it sad when people come to exhibitions only to have an artwork as a proper Instagrammable background. A lot of people do not credit the artists nor the location of the museum or gallery because it gives a ‘cool vibe’ to be arty. It's great to see more visitors, but it's very disappointing to use an artist's work only to make people believe you are interested and part of an art intelligentsia when you are only looking to be perceived in a certain way or gain likes and followers.

Also, we’re interested to hear what are your plans for your profile going forward?

In March 2019, the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report by Clare McAndrews revealed that 10% of the more than 3,000 galleries surveyed did not represent any women artists. Among these galleries, 48% have only a quarter or less of women on their rosters. Last but not least, regarding auctions, 96% of the works sold are by male artists. I mention it because we write art history every day and I would not like to see a new article like Linda Nochlin’s 1971 piece “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” with twists like black artists instead of women, published a decade from now.

@imagine_moi is imagining all these little things I can do and everything that we can do today that will have a positive impact on tomorrow’s art world. Moving forward, I would love to serve as an ambassador or as an art influencer for museums and art fairs. We have to keep in mind that the young people of today are already buying art and will be the art collectors of tomorrow!

Article by Alicia Puig

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Studio Sunday: Brooke Sauer
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Our Studio Sunday interview is with LA based artist Brooke Sauer. She creates unique cyanotype paintings inspired by a deep connection with the natural world and how humans interact within it. We are pleased to be presenting two of her works with PxP Contemporary so if you enjoy this feature, we invite you to check out her work on our site! Make sure to view our inaugural show ‘Pilot’ soon as it will be closing on August 15th.

Bio

Brooke Sauer holds a BFA in Painting from Otis College of Art & Design, and an MFA from Art Center College of Design. 

Statement

Brooke is a Los Angeles based artist inspired by her innate connection to nature. With her art, she strives to connect more deeply with the natural world by exploring and learning about it first-hand and reflecting on our symbiotic relationships to it. The intimate and sometimes whimsical moments portrayed in her work suggest that just as nature surrounds us, it is also within us. Her unique cyanotype illustrations are created by combining a very old photographic printing process (cyanotype), with her background in painting and her love of botany, using the natural sunlight and water available to her to produce each unique and unpredictable piece. Her prints are made from pressed plants that she collects while hiking and exploring. Brooke refers to her botanical collection as her, “nostalgic herbarium”, as they all hold a memory and a story of a wonderful feeling, a place, and the people she was with when she collected them. This nostalgia peeks out from time to time in her works in the form of a longing or introspectiveness on the part of the figures captured within, or perhaps a yearning for a new adventure.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Growing up, I was always drawing and painting, making things and making music. I took a few formal painting classes as a little kid, but it was frustrating for me. I think I was happier just making whatever came to mind. One time I opened up a "greeting card store" in my bedroom with all the cards I designed. It was more conceptual, not like anyone was really going to come in our house and buy anything, but I liked seeing all the designs that I drew together like that. I was also an avid reader and wrote and illustrated my own detective novel. I was always creative, but I don't think I consciously thought I was creating Art until I was a teenager. I didn't have any formal art classes again until I was in my early 20's when I went to art school.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

I am inspired by my relationship to nature, which has been growing along with me my whole life. Growing up, we moved to a lot of different places with different kinds of landscapes, plants, and animals, and I had a lot of freedom to, say, roam the woods behind our house by myself. When I was 12, my Dad & I , and often some friends started doing a lot of hiking, camping, and going on some pretty epic backpacking trips to some amazing places. This helped me to feel confident in my abilities and comfortable being out in the middle of nowhere and knowing I would be ok, and that this was actually natural, like how people used to live. The longer you're out there, the more natural it begins to feel, and you truly become one with your surroundings. That feeling of being a part of something in nature, which is vast, and it being a part of me, is what inspires my work. My work starts with a feeling, maybe a memory, or even an experience that I want to have, and then i try to translate that into a simple line drawing. From there I create my final piece, which has many layers.

First, I paint a picture using a UV sensitive fluid under non UV lighting. When it dries, I take wild plants and flowers that I have collected on my hikes and pressed, and arrange them on top of my painting. Next, I expose it to the sun for a certain amount of time depending on the weather, then I remove the plant parts and rinse off the painting and let it dry. The plants and flowers have been photographically printed into the painting, becoming the negative space that creates such a stark contrast against the rich cyan blue. This is actually how some of the very first photographs were made, as well as blueprints, which came much later.

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your paintings?

I hope my viewers take away a feeling of being connected to one's surroundings in a way that is poetic and thought provoking. Of being a part of something and having it equally be a part of you.

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What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

To be confident in my abilities and my creative voice at any given time, even when it is always changing and evolving, because that can spark doubt, but it's really just a part of nature. In fact, I think that's just advice I would give to myself, or any other artist, at any time of life!

How do you overcome creative blocks?

I just force myself to do something - like I'll play a game where I have to draw any object that is in front of me in the room, or on the table, but in drawing it I have to transform it into something magical or mysterious. Those exercises don't usually turn into final works, but they do get me into a more creative headspace which is where I want to be.

Good advice! Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have a solo show in April 2020, around Earth Day, at the College of The Canyons in Santa Clarita California. I am expanding my studio practice in a way that will allow me to work on a much larger scale to create a new body of work for this show. I will also be including a soundscape element and possibly some 3-dimensional applications of my process as well. This will be a big push for me to see what I can do with this medium and the context of my work.

The Grass Isn't Greener, But Sometimes It's Okay to Check
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I recently interviewed emerging Philadelphia-based designer and digital artist, Jeff Manning, who told me that his advice to his younger self would have been to focus more on competing against himself rather than his peers. This idea really connected with me and got me thinking to the bigger idea of how often we compare ourselves to others - today, in so many more aspects of our lives than our careers. It can be detrimental when taken to the extreme, but sometimes, it can actually be not only useful, but important to do so. When it seems like everyone else is making more sales, having bigger exhibitions, or getting better exposure, it feels difficult to not unfairly or unnecessarily judge ourselves against others and even more significantly, to not let self-doubt or jealousy get the best of us. So instead, let’s take a moment to identify the productive ways we can use comparison to keep us moving forward!

Perhaps you’ve already read Kat’s article about how to price artwork. If so, you’ll remember that looking at other artists who are in the same stage as you and making similar work (in terms of size, materials, and time spent per piece) is a great way to estimate what you can be selling your art for. Pricing has been kept such a mystery in our industry for so long, a trend fostered by perceived competition and scarcity between galleries and artists. But luckily, attitudes on this are finally beginning to shift. Whereas collectors of the past might have been intimidated to make an inquiry at a traditional gallery, today, potential buyers can see prices listed online or even contact artists directly via their websites and social media channels. I encourage you to not only be aware of how your peers are pricing their work, but to also be open to sharing this with other artists if they reach out to you and finally, of keeping tabs on larger trends in the industry. 

Along the same lines, if you are working in the arts either in a full-time role or in addition to your studio practice, get to know your what your colleagues are being paid. Hopefully, you saw the recent salary spreadsheet that was initiated by a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (yay Philly!). It went viral online, with thousands of people who work in museum, gallery, arts administration, and education positions adding their wages to list. Knowing what others make will help you better negotiate your pay and ensure that you are being compensated fairly within your company. This can, of course, be an awkward conversation at first, but again, the more transparent we all are with each other the better off everyone will be in the long run. 

Are you looking to start working with a gallery? I talk more in depth about this in my article “The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to Galleries”, but one of the tips that I discuss is that part of your research should always include checking out the artists who are already represented by a gallery you’re interested in. Don’t skimp on this one! Compare notes on their resumes and websites to make sure that you’re really a strong fit. It can actually come in handy when it comes time to putting together your application. Through this research, you may notice similarities between the gallery artists and you that you can then mention as evidence to support you joining their roster. 

Let’s say that things have been going well for a while. You’re making sales and showing in quality exhibitions and now you’re wondering what to do in order to take the next step in your career. You might be thinking: ‘How do I show in museums and art fairs? Is an artist residency right for me? What can I do to successfully apply for grant funding? or What’s next?’ This is another time when checking in with other artists is a good idea. It is likely that you may already follow or know someone at the next level and can simply ask, but if you don’t, there are lots of additional resources to tap into like podcasts, books, blogs, workshops, and more. A little bit of networking at the next gallery opening or art event also might help you meet artists who can provide this type of advice.

Finally, comparing can be a simple way to learn something new to add to your art practice. Whether it is a new technique, medium, scale, or material, if something in another artist’s work caught your attention in a way that made you wonder ‘How did they do that?’ it’s probably worth trying to figure it out (or asking them)! It could really bring an interesting perspective or value to your work. Even if it isn’t directly related to what you are making, I’d still encourage you to pursue it as creative experimentation. When you let yourself explore freely, it can spark your imagination in different ways and that could lead to new ideas for your work.

The same holds true with business or marketing as an artist. Don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. If you see another artist’s resume or website that is formatted nicely and looks professional, definitely use that as a template. This is especially useful when you’re starting out on social media. We’ve spoken before about how followers really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They can help, yes, depending on the kind of work you make and what your goals are as an artist. However, what is more important is honing your voice online, showing great images of your art, and being consistent with your posts. Find some examples of artists who you think are doing this well so that you can use them as a model for your own profiles. Please note that none of the above is recommending that you copy anyone directly! Borrowing from Austin Kleon, who I recently interviewed for Issue 15, you can and should ‘steal like an artist’ but when you use others’ ideas always turn them into something that is your own and give credit where it is due.

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I hope that these tips will help you recognize when comparison can be a beneficial tool, but if you ever find yourself getting negatively affected by looking at what others are doing then please stop. Unfollow or mute those on social media that aren’t serving you or take a break from it completely. Step back from relationships in person that may be putting added stress or pressure on you. Sometimes we don’t realize how profoundly we are being affected and it can grow into unhealthy feelings of anxiety that are hard to manage. Try to spot the signs early and proactively separate yourself from what is causing it. Don’t let anyone else dictate where you should be or make you feel bad about where you currently are in your journey. Always remember that it is exactly that, a journey. Something that takes time, effort, and consistent work! 

I have definitely gotten sucked into these ideas on occasion, thinking that I should be further along in my career than I am, earning a higher salary, or doing more. But then I remember - what is the rush? I think of those who found success later in life, like Jerry Saltz and Lisa Congdon, and realize that I’m exactly where I need to be. I wholeheartedly agree with the artist who I interviewed that I’m the only person that I should be comparing myself to in that regard and if I’ve grown or progressed or learned something new since last year, last month, or even last week then I’m definitely on the right track. If you’re in this creative life for the long haul (like Kat talked about in a recent Art & Cocktails episode!), this is the type of mindset to maintain in order to ensure that you’ll remain focused on your own path for years to come.

Cheers!

-Alicia
@puigypics
alicia@createmagazine.com

Studio Sunday: Samantha Boni
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This Sunday’s feature gives you a behind the scenes peek into the studio practice of one of our PxP Contemporary invited artists, Samantha Boni. Based in Italy, she creates stunning landscapes and is inspired by nature and the freedom associated with being an artist. Learn more in her interview below and then check out her two affordable paintings available with our gallery through our first exhibition Pilot. The show is only up for a few more weeks so don’t miss out on the chance to collect her work or one of the many other incredible artists we curated for this inaugural show!

Bio

Samantha Boni was born in Modena, Italy. After studying languages at school, she took painting lessons from Italian maestro Alberto Cavallari and then attended the antiques restoration school, La Bottega del Restauro, in Modena for four years. At the same time, she started her career as a professional painter.

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When did you first become interested in art?

I have always been interested in art. I started painting when I was a child and developed this passion through my teen years. Then I discovered restoration and studied al fresco techniques for years.

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

I am inspired by nature and its light, what hits my eyes and gives me feelings or emotions.

What is your process like?

I am working on a series of abstract paintings about water and its energy. I use palette techniques and I feel that there’s something therapeutic about it - strength, energy, anger, fury, happiness and sadness all together.

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Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio is a well lit room with sketches everywhere. When I work I really need silence, like being closed in my favorite bubble.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

Art is freedom. Try, try, try and try again.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I’ve been focusing on my series of abstract landscapes. It’s a new mission to me. At the moment, I also have an exhibition in Italy at the Villa the Moll and I’m really proud to be part of your project PxP Cpntemporary.

Interview with William Tyler Story
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Create! Magazine is excited to share a new interview feature with artist William Tyler Story. Besides telling us more about the new series of abstract works he is excited to be focusing on this year, he also explains the pivotal moment in his early career that motivated him to pursue being an artist full-time. You can find more of his work on his website or via Instagram @peaceoot and @williamtylerstory.

Bio

Influenced by modern-day street art, driven by raw talent and intuition; my subject matter reflects self-discovery.

My interest in art began at a very young age, drawing things I would see in everyday life. Brought up in East Texas, art was rarely encouraged as a career path. Because of this I never saw art as a future career, but more as a hobby. My local community revolved around sports and everyone I knew aspired to be a professional athlete of some sort. Naturally, I followed in those footsteps and played a wide variety of sports trying to find a fit. Despite my athleticism, I knew deep down it wasn’t my calling.

My first year out of high school (2010), I moved into a loft in Downtown Dallas. This is where I began to experiment with the arts. Inspired by artists like Banksy and Zio Zeigler, I spent countless hours painting large murals on the walls of my home. In time, I began taking acrylic to canvas, continuing to expand my artistic process.

October 01, 2016 I decided to share my art with the community for the first time. Selling 4 of the 5 paintings I displayed sparked a flame that motivated me to strive for a full-time career in the art world. Since then my art has evolved and expanded its reach internationally. 2018 marked my first year as a full-time artist, selling paintings, prints, commissions, customized apparel and more.

My latest “DREAMseries” (2019) was the debut of my favorite style of abstract paintings. I found a technique that felt very natural to me after all of the experimenting with different styles of painting. I’m currently working on creating an extension of the DREAMseries and plan to share it publicly early fall. These paintings will soon be translated into my first large scale mural installation.

Can you tell us a little more about your early interest in art? 

When I was little I loved looking at the illustrations in MAD magazine. I was drawn to the imaginary caricatures. Only 8 years old, I sketched my first portrait of Kobe Bryant (image lost over the years). That moment I recognized my knack for drawing. The details of the face, proportions, etc. It all felt very natural to me. 

I continued to doodle over the years and my skills began evolving. I had a wide variety of drawings, but the one common theme was my desire to portray an alternate, unrealistic scene. I was drawn to cartoons and things that were a bit abstract to reality. 

I took a couple of art courses in school. However, I felt confined within the guidelines of what I was being taught. So I chose a different path and pursued a career in the Health & Wellness industry. At the age of 19, I was working and going to school full time. On the weekends I spent my time painting on the walls of my apartment. It was refreshing to have zero boundaries. Painting large murals of anything that came to mind. Exploring color palettes, types of paints, techniques, etc. After moving around a bit and having to paint over the artwork on the walls, I figured it was time to take my art to canvas.

What led you to first exhibit your work in 2016? After this successful showing, how did you develop your career?

After working a stable job for 8 years and painting personal pieces when I had the time, I decided to display my art in a local coffee shop to see what would happen. 4 of the 5 paintings displayed sold in less than a month. That was my sign to take a leap of faith and follow my dreams. I started painting more and steadily transitioning away from the Health & Wellness industry. Once I felt like I could survive minimally off of my artwork, making sales online anyway I found possible, I declared myself a full-time artist.

It seems like doing commission work is a significant part of your practice. How do you find clients and what are some of the exciting or challenging aspects of this type of work?

As my work began to expand internationally, I felt confident enough to begin accepting commission work to push my skillset further. The clients’ requests were always of a style I had never attempted before. This was an exciting step in my career. They were requesting portraits, animals, landscapes, etc. The thrill of exploring new techniques motivated me to keep going and try new things. I’d say the most challenging aspect of this type of work was fear of the unknown. I began questioning myself, “Am I doing this ‘right’? Will they like it?” Define ‘right’.  I was reminded of the days in art class where I felt confined within the rules of art. Those internal struggles gave me clarity on what art means to me today. I no longer feel that I have to be so structured or plan so far ahead when it comes to painting. I create a general concept and allow myself to feel more and just let things happen. It brought on a whole different level of enjoyment to painting.

Talk about your more recent abstract paintings and what has inspired them.

Recent works of my DREAMseries reflect this epiphany of freedom to move about the canvas in the way I enjoy most. Sharing the inner depths of my subconscious using colors that reflected however I felt in that moment and letting shapes take form. Listening to music…sitting in silence…rested…exhausted…these paintings have pieces of me in every little corner. The colorful DREAM painting can be rotated to any side, creating a new perception with every turn. A fun twist that allowed me to paint from every angle, giving the collector 4 paintings in 1.

The DREAMseries also displays my first paintings composed in black & white. 

I spent many restless nights wondering what was next for me. I sat up thinking about how I got to where I am today and what the future may look like. And then it happened. I was able to finally close my eyes and dream. Hopping from one reality to the next, waking with blurry details in my mind…I picked up a pencil and began sketching. There was a new fire burning within my soul as the shapes began to take form. I felt the creativity flowing with every stroke. There was less planning…more feeling…it was eye-opening.

While painting the DREAMseries, I discovered a unique style that came very natural to me and I’m excited to continue to share my work with the world as I grow.

Do you have any other exhibitions or projects planned for the rest of the year or into 2020?

I am currently coordinating my first large scale mural installation and exploring different opportunities with gallery displays for 2020. From there I hope to continue painting on a larger scale and help more people connect with my work. 

Is there a quote, mantra, or piece of advice that is especially meaningful to you?

Find your passion, be persistent & remain patient. Forever grateful. Forever humble.

The Streets of San Jose: Interview with Costa Rica en la pared
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Before moving to Costa Rica, my knowledge of what the art scene here was going to be like was limited. I knew little beyond a few successful local artists, like contemporary abstract painter Federico Hererro, or the sculptor, Jimenez Deredia. However, one of the most exciting aspects of San Jose I have discovered so far is the vast amount of incredible street art. With architecture as likely to be white as it is to be a soft pastel yellow, burnt orange, or a saturated blue, the tags and murals blend in with the colorful structures but also stand out individually as high caliber works. Especially in hip neighborhoods like Barrio Escalante, the artworks painted on exterior walls seemingly equal or outnumber the ever growing amount of trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes. This led me to the questions: how, why, and most importantly, who are these artists? 

On Instagram, I found a virtual hub of the street art scene in the area, aptly named Costa Rica en la pared (Costa Rica on the wall). Founded and run by a charismatic young Tico (local slang for ‘a native Costa Rican’) named Mario Molina, the organization currently coordinates tours and events that showcase the city’s great talent in street art. I sat down with him recently to discuss his interest in urban art, the history of graffiti in the city, and what he aims to achieve by continuing to grow Costa Rica en la pared.

First, a bit of history. He explains that street art began in earnest in Costa Rica around the late 90’s. The roots of the artists working today can be traced back to two major graffiti writers from the US and one from Nicaragua who became integrated with skate culture here during this time. For many years, however, the style of the work being produced was restricted by the kinds of paints and materials that were available. Fast forward about ten to fifteen years and once better quality spray paints arrived, there was a noticeable shift in the color palette and in the complexity of the art being produced. Rather than just graffiti, more murals began popping up after 2010. Additionally, the new generation of urban artists have access to digital tools that help them create their works and that many also have backgrounds in graphic design or related fields. The combination of better tools and more experienced talent caused a proliferation of quality street art in the past several years - this was a significant part of the impetus for launching Costa Rica en la pared. 

Mario has always been interested in art and has a genuine love for the nature and street culture of the area where he grew up. Though he began in a different field of study, he eventually pivoted to pursue a degree in tourism at the Universidad Internacional de las Américas, which he will soon be completing. After working at a restaurant for some time as a barista, while developing an interest in photography on the side, he left to pursue his interest in urban art. He does create tags periodically that focus on themes of social justice, but the motivation behind starting Costa Rica en la pared wasn’t about promoting his own work. Instead, he wants to act as a medium through which the local community can connect with street art.

One would assume that such a strong presence of street art and graffiti must be funded, organized, or supported in other ways as is the case with Miami’s Wynwood Walls or Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project. According to Mario, however, besides a few murals that were commissioned by brands, artists are largely producing these works by themselves. Even without explicit permission, most artists don’t encounter issues with the authorities and often tag their work with their social media handles. Nevertheless, passively accepting that urban art is being created in your neighborhood is not the same as actively supporting it. This is where Costa Rica en la pared comes in. 

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Mario founded his organization around three years ago and initially began reaching out to the artist names he would repeatedly see around the city. Recognizing their distinctive codes and tags, he would find them on Instagram and ask to hear about their stories. Most were open and very willing to speak with him. Based on these interactions, he started to share what he had learned via series of posts on his Instagram page (@costaricaenlapared). These stories shared alongside strong visuals and a catchy hashtag has drawn a lot of interest over the past few years and his handle has now reached over fourteen thousand followers. While an interest in marketing and an eye for photography have surely helped grow his audience, what is unique about Costa Rica en la pared is its well-honed voice. He places a clear emphasis on social impact and supporting local artists in a way that nobody else is at the moment, with the ultimate goal being to have tourists and locals alike better understand and appreciate the urban art all around them. 

His other main source of engagement in addition to social media are walking tours that he calls urban art safaris. As he and the tour participants navigate various neighborhoods throughout the city, Mario leads the group in a discussion that is equal parts art, history, and sociology. His love for what he does is evident as he lights up when I ask him who are a few of his favorite local street artists. He considers the question carefully and ultimately settles on three that he pulls up on Instagram to show me. The first is @ulillo, an abstract muralist who promises one public art project for every private one he completes. Then there’s MUSH @mushongo, who Mario respects for his “purist”, old school style of lettering done with spray cans and praises as one of the influential pioneers of the graffiti movement in Costa Rica. Finally, he tells me about @negus_artevida, a talented tattoo artist in addition to mural and graffiti artist, who Mario describes as someone who creates big productions with significance and is a supporter of the old school style like MUSH.

As our conversation winds down, I ask him to tell me about what else he has planned for the rest of the year. He will keep hosting tours and planning events and he recently began selling t-shirts to help raise funds to support more street art projects. The talent is there, but what’s missing is someone to manage the logistics of connecting potential sponsors with artists. With his passion, it’s clear that he’s the right person for this job. He will be adding additional members to his team shortly so that they can continue to expand their reach, build partnerships with local hotels and hostels, and complete their first fully funded mural in barrio Aranjuez. From there, he hopes to eventually move beyond the city to other towns across the country. After all, he says, it’s not San Jose en la pared, it’s Costa Rica en la pared. 

Article by Alicia Puig
Featured in Issue 15!

Studio Sunday: S.P. Harper
‘Vut-Ami’ Portuguese-cut Diamond,  Acrylic and oil on canvas wallpaper, 16 x 16 inches

‘Vut-Ami’ Portuguese-cut Diamond, Acrylic and oil on canvas wallpaper, 16 x 16 inches

This week’s Studio Sunday features the work of LA-based artist S.P. Harper. Her work focuses on imagery of glittering gemstones created in a way that mixes the traditional still-life with modernism. Learn more about the family ties that inspire her choice of subject matter and the strong interest she has in the Ecocentric art movement in her interview below!

Bio

S. P. Harper studied art at the American University in Paris, France with Paul Jenkins, USC Roski School of Fine Arts (BFA) and ArtCenter in Pasadena, California. After spending 12 years in New York City, Harper returned to Los Angeles to teach art and concentrate on Ecocentic Art. Harper’s grandfather, Archibald Picking, was a diamantaire (diamond cutter) before becoming a conductor for Pacific Electric Red Cars.

When did you first become interested in art? Where did you study and can you tell us a bit about the early years of your career?

My interest in art was first kindled when my parents took me to see Pop Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The boldness of Andy Warhols’s big Brillo boxes and Campbell’s’ soup cans resonated with me. Our public school system did not offer instruction in the arts so without art classes throughout my elementary, junior and high schools, ultimately my love of art and pleasure of working in a studio environment was discovered in college. I learned to paint and sculpt but did not have a solid concept or vision of what to create, initially accepting trompe l’oeil and design projects until slowly developing my focus over time, many years, in fact.

How has your work developed and when did you begin to hone in on the subject matter that you focus on today?

Ten years ago, collecting my daughter and her friend’s used clothing, tie-dying them and selling them back to school parents for annual fund raiser benefits initiated my interest in reclamation. This re-appropriating process led me to paint with discarded surface materials. The still life of the gem stone came around organically because they are the perfect object to see recycled patterns through the gem facets. Just recently, there is an awareness this subject matter may come from channeling my late grandfather who was a diamantaire (diamond cutter).

‘Prometheus’ Round-cut Diamond,  Oil and acrylic on canvas poster, 16 x 16 inches

‘Prometheus’ Round-cut Diamond, Oil and acrylic on canvas poster, 16 x 16 inches

What is your current work inspired by?

The iPad drawings by David Hockney and his unparalleled mastery of draftsmanship and color have long served as inspirational material for me. Like David, I abstract from nature and attempt to present my subject in an artful and positive light using David’s kiss-of-the-sun, California color palette. I am also inspired by the Ecocentric artist activist: Vik Muniz. His dramatic use of recycled materials and the sheer size of his “WasteLand” series are awe-inspiring.

Can you talk about your interest in the Ecocentric Art Movement and how your art fits into it?

I paint on and create sculpture with reclaimed materials such as discarded tablecloths, wallpapers, curtains, metal and wood scraps. By reforming and re-employing, my work brings materials back to life to re-use and up-cycle. There is a new scholarship emerging as a massive international movement of the 21st Century to reduce our dependence on mass produced goods takes hold. Ecocentric practice is filtering into the consciousness and the behavior of society and is being explored by many disciplines as human values recalibrate. The movement serves the needs of environmentalism and is also known as Neo Materialism.

Five Thousand Karats,  Steel, aluminum and door hinges, 24 x 24 x 24 inches

Five Thousand Karats, Steel, aluminum and door hinges, 24 x 24 x 24 inches

What kind of space do you work in to make your art? What is important to have in it for you?

I work in a home studio which contains a wood shop and do the metal smithing at Molten Metal Works in Glendale, California. Good light, a large table space and a lot of unencumbered free time to create are top priorities. A room sized space is dedicated to storing a collection of salvaged materials in which painting and sculpture creation comes from. These materials are a constant source of inspiration. They tug at my heart stings to be rejuvenated and launched back into the world.

Are there any big projects, collaborations, or exhibitions that you are working on for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

Seven Million Karats at the Audubon Center at Deb’s Park in Pasadena, California is my most recent installation. Seven Thousand Karats is included in Works On Paper at the Brand Library and Art Gallery in Glendale, California opening on September 7 and runs through October 25. A Diptych painting and sculpture will in included in Above the Couch at bG Gallery, Santa Monica, California opening on September 21 and runs through October 15. See you at the openings for art and cocktails!

How We Started Collecting Art on a Budget and Why It Is Important to Us

By Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig

From Kat:

Working with hundreds of artists through Create! Magazine over the past several years has given me an incredible opportunity to discover beautiful and affordable works. I had the privilege of decorating my apartment on a budget because I was exposed to artists working in all mediums, styles, and price points. 

It first started off as trades with my own work, and later evolved to me purchasing some of my favorite pieces to add to my ever-growing collection. 

What makes owning original art special, instead of settling for a cheap canvas print from Ikea or Marshall’s is that your space will have a completely unique vibe, curated based on your visual aesthetic. It will make it so much more fun to entertain your guests because each piece has a story that you can share. I don’t know about you, but I want to cultivate an interesting life both inside and outside of my home. 

Having been both the buyer and seller of artwork, I love the process. For example, it makes me so proud to share my growth with those who invested in my work early in my career. I bet the gentleman that purchased my first large painting in 2012 is excited to see me move on to exhibit at international art fairs, work with bigger galleries, and be featured by leading blogs and publications. It’s exciting for the collector to feel as if they are a part of the artist’s journey and evolution and that they were a part of making their success happen. On the flip side, I love seeing the artists I traded with or purchased from move on to reach higher levels and increase their value in the art market. More than anything, having my community literally surround me inside my home brings me immense joy and comfort. 

If you are ready to upgrade your living space and truly make it unique, exciting, and full of the energy of the creatives that you love, take the first step and buy your favorite thing that you can afford at the moment. Most artists and galleries will work with you and can even offer a payment plan if you don’t have cash upfront for a larger piece. I have frequently let my collectors pay as low as $100 per month for larger paintings. 

A few months ago, Alicia Puig and I launched our online platform, PxP Contemporary, which will help you get started on your art collection. We wanted to create a space where new collectors can order a piece they love without awkward interactions, especially if you are new to buying art. Shop our collection of affordable works ranging from $100-$2000 to help you get started! If you aren’t quite sure which piece you want to buy first, don’t be shy about contacting an artist you’ve been following on Instagram to get more information about their work and pricing or you can look for local gallery exhibitions where you might just find something you fall in love with. With any of the works exhibited with PxP Contemporary, you can always email us with questions at info@pxpcontemporary.com. We’re happy to help!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces which are available at PxP Contemporary:

From Alicia:

Looking back to our days in college, perhaps it was always meant to be that Kat and I would be working on a gallery project together. She was technically my very first art purchase! While we were both pursuing our BFA degrees at Kutztown University, I fell in love with a beautiful landscape piece with a country home pictured against a vivid pink background that she had painted and mustered up the courage to ask her if I could buy it. At the time, we knew each other through working at an off-campus gallery, but weren’t as close as we are now so I wasn’t sure what she would say. Luckily, she agreed, gave me a price that I could fit into my student budget, and I started to realize that I could afford to collect art that I loved. I simply had to ask or else I’d never know. As I started in my career, I was able to continue to learn more about buying art from working in galleries. I learned about asking for discounts and payment plans, but also continued to buy directly from artists as well. 

For me, like with Kat, my apartment would never feel complete without art on the walls. It both looks and feels empty. Whenever I move into a new place, I get anxious until I start to curate the space because without art, it doesn’t yet have that same feeling of being my ‘home’. So this ends up being one of the very few aspects of moving that I actually enjoy, ha!

The artworks I hang around me also serve as a reminder of wonderful artists who I have worked with in the past and places I have visited, the lovely friends and family who have purchased art for me, or are just pieces that make me happy when I look at them! One of the most beautiful things about art is that it is so emotional and personal. You have the power to find art that speaks to you and surround yourself with it. It can bring consistent reminders of positive memories and spark feelings of joy. Who wouldn’t want that? 

More than the aesthetic part of collecting, however, I also enjoy that I’m supporting someone else’s career. While it is exciting to buy art from big names that you may have seen in history books or museums, it is so important to invest in the current generation of living artists. The artists who are household names now usually had patrons or other buyers back in their day and the majority definitely wouldn’t have been able to continue their work without them. This is probably the art historian in me talking, but if we don’t support those working today, how will they be able to leave their mark? Many are worried about making ends meet, not making history. So let’s make sure that we’re all doing what we can to support each other in this community. 

Not to mention, there is so much talent in a vast array of mediums both traditional and new and it is wonderful that today there is even greater recognition for women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQIA artists. We can all find our niche. Therefore, with a little bit of research you will definitely find someone’s work that is really meaningful to you. I certainly have!

These are all reasons why we created PxP Contemporary. We wanted a place that makes collecting easy: not intimidating, not complicated, not expensive, and not low quality. We’ve curated a selection of work by incredible artists from around the world and given them a platform to showcase their art and tell their stories. If you aren’t familiar with PxP yet, I invite you to take a look. I hope you’ll join us! 

In addition to our website: www.pxpcontemporary.com you can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated with gallery news and exhibitions.

The first exhibition curated by PxP Contemporary!

The first exhibition curated by PxP Contemporary!

Studio Sunday: Molly Mansfield

This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of artist Molly Mansfield. We’re so excited to be bringing you a closer look at her paintings and best tips for maintaining a creative practice. Read her interview below and then check out her two beautiful and affordable pieces that are currently available online with PxP Contemporary!

Bio

I live in small town Texas with my husband and two little boys. Working with watercolor, gouache, and oil paints, I use handmade pigments that are mined from the earth's minerals.

My childhood days were spent playing amongst the leaves in the nursery owned by my parents and running barefooted and wild on my grandfather's property. Nature and particularly plants have played an important role in helping me to cope with anxiety. Now as a mother, thinking about my children, I value its role even more. When encountering nature, so many feelings are elicited. There is the excitement of spotting a rare bird, the wonder of a spiders web, an overwhelming sense of peace when standing at the water's edge, and even fear when met face to face with a coyote. Nowhere than in nature are the senses so stimulated.

The fury of our fast-paced, productivity driven, consumer culture is often overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. I regularly feel the struggle to counter these pressures in my life and work.

Statement

My paintings are impressions of experiences. Abstractions of a memory seeking to speak to the benefits of interacting with the natural world. Nature beckons us to take time out of our busy schedules to pause and take in the beauty. I want my paintings to reflect that sentiment. My process is measured and intentional. There is a lot of looking and soaking in the experience. Each brush stroke is carefully placed to describe the feeling that I am trying to create. My hope is that when you look at my artwork you are compelled to slow down, maybe take a deep breath, enjoy something beautiful, and engage with the present moment.

When did you first become interested in art and what drew you to painting?

Like most young children I was always making and inventing things. My mom was always coming up with some new creative project for me to work on from bead making to sewing and knitting to designing container gardens. I loved the opportunity to explore and certainly benefitted from being able to look at art making through different viewpoints via playing with different mediums. Painting has always been there though, and it has always had my heart. It was elevated in my mind as a child by a few images I had seen of Van Gogh’s work, a thin paperback portfolio of Cezanne that we owned, and receiving postcards in the mail from my aunt, Jennifer Young who is a painter. This modest collection of paintings I had access to, was devoured by me. Every color and brushstroke becoming ingrained in my mind. But every time I came back to the paintings an overwhelming feeling came over me, the energy moved me, I was taken far far away from my present situation to something magical that I had never experienced before. The paintings couldn’t be memorized. The process of making a painting is very feeling oriented as well. I love the experience of guiding, sliding the creamy buttery paint across the canvas. I turn music on, my whole body is moving, I’m not thinking about what I’m doing I just know I can’t stop. I keep laying down brushstrokes boldly side by side, alone they are blocks of color but together they become something recognizable. Something that has meant so much to me and I hope becomes meaningful for the viewer.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your work and the series (or multiple bodies of work) that you are focusing on at the moment?

Imagine driving down a well trodden road, but you still can’t keep your eyes off the landscape. A line of cars builds up behind you , but you are struck with overwhelming beauty of whats in front. The grey stormy skies, the saturation of the well watered layers of fields. There is something new and exciting about the view and yet something familiar.

We moved out of Austin last summer to a small town near my hometown. It was an unusually rainy and cloudy fall for Texas. I was struck driving the road, FM 973, that connects my small town to Austin by the rolling green hills and grey skies. The landscape that you can see from this road is so striking because it is slightly higher elevation and open farmland with layers and layers of fields and crops leading up to the horizon line. I knew that I had to paint these views and I wanted to, focus on movement, shapes, and feeling, over details.

The collection, “Views From 973” is inspired by memories. Abstract & Fluid. Moments running into each other. Not about the fine details but about the feeling and emotion of the experience. Though these landscapes are inspired by a particular place, it makes sense that one might remind you of your own adventures. That’s when it becomes about human connection. Something that started as part of my own story, but then becomes yours.

This body of work has been the most intuitive work I have ever done. I look at so many of the pieces in this collection and think, “how did I even do that?!” The Brushstrokes, compositions, colors, none of it was planned really. I went into it with a feeling that I wanted to express and then let the process take over. This is work that I felt Inside of me and I knew I had to create.

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Describe your current studio space. What is most important for keeping a consistent creative practice?

My studio sometimes is the kitchen table, sometimes my bedroom dresser, and always most of the closets in our house (for storage, not for painting in, LOL). I am beginning to long for a more permanent space to create in, but honestly working out of my home has served me well. I’ve been painting (almost) every day for the past five years. Most of that happens in the evenings after my kids are in bed and I clean up my mess, packing everything back into closets when I’m done. I am very energized to work in the evenings, however homebody that I am, it is the last time of day that I want to leave my house. I have loved creating in the center of my home near the energy of my family and the comfort of my tea kettle.

Here are a few things that have really helped me in having a consistent creative practice.

1) Just start making. Its that simple. If you can, organize your day so that you are creating at the same time. Pay attention to what times of day you have the most creative energy, are you a morning person or a night owl? There may be times in the beginning when you don’t feel like making anything but just keep showing up, eventually the muse will show up too. After a couple of months of coming to the studio consistently you will have a habit, and after that I think it is pretty easy. I did a 100 day project 5 years ago and I’ve been painting nearly every day since, it’s just what I do and I love it.

2) Remove distractions. A few years back we got rid of our TV. Relaxation and enjoyment are good things, but for me Netflix was taking over my life, I felt like I wasn’t in control of how I spent my time. This was the best decision ever because while vegging can feel nourishing in the moment because it is passive, painting is what FEEDS MY SOUL.

3) Make your workspace comfortable. Do what you can to make your space not only where you want to be, but a place where you feel relaxed and able to let the creativity flow out of you. I once had a studio with no air conditioning in the summer in Texas. I did make work there but there was no lingering with delight over the process. You know I got out of there as soon as I could call the piece done! Recently I have been making work out of my home. It’s not glamorous. I could’ve rented a studio but home is just the only place I want to be at the end of the day (when I paint).

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

Freedom! I get to be with my kids, make art and have a business. I get to make my own schedule. I don’t like people telling me what to do, LOL. I am allowed to follow my interest, passion, and muse. Making art isn’t all lollipops and fluffy clouds, sometimes there’s a wrestling that has to happen. Communicating what’s in my head, a thought or a concept into something visual on the canvas is hard work. There are so many ideas and in a way each one is a problem to be solved. Thinking, trying, thinking again. Once something clicks the work just starts coming out and I just have to keep up. The best word I can think of to describe this feeling when the idea is out and on canvas, is freedom. Sigh. Now I am ready to start on the next idea. ;)


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Name a few artists whose work has had an impact on you.

Pastmasters: Cezanne, Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent. Contemporaries: Jennifer Young and Richard Claremont.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Oh yes! I have just barely started making work for my first solo show here in Austin at Revelry in September! I am soooo excited about this body of work exploring a slightly different landscape than my last collection, of plants and our relationships with them. It is work that I have been thinking about for a long time and I feel like I’m finally ready to get it out and put it on the canvas. Of course I’m very excited about the show too!

Giveaway Announcement with Upcrate, a New Art Supply Subscription Box!

Create! Magazine is excited to announce a giveaway contest with Upcrate, a new Hamburg-based monthly subscription crate with amazing art supplies. They have generously offered to send one free box to a member of our online community. In order to win, simply make sure to be following @createmagazine and @upcrate, then tag a friend in the comments section of our Instagram post announcing the contest. One grand prize winner will be selected on Monday, July 15th!

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Kickstarter supporters will be the first to receive Upcrate! Your crate contains multiple art supplies together with materials of a featured artist that will inspire you to create. For more information on what is included in a typical crate, you can check out their Kickstarter link below. Upcrate ships worldwide and fees are included in the prices.

They are offering special early bird deals so check them out sooner rather than later! Upcrate has no contracts or hidden fees. Try a crate and if you like what you receive you can subscribe on their website for a plan that best suits you. There are four different subscription options for your mystery art supplies, but if it’s not a fit you can cancel at any time without penalty.

Learn more about Upcrate:

Website: www.upcrate.art

IG: @upcrate

Support them on Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/upcrate/upcrate-mystery-art-supplies-in-a-subscription-crate

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Studio Sunday: Lizz Berry
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Create! Magazine is pleased to present a new Studio Sunday feature with Portland-based artist Lizz Berry. Learn more about what inspired her interest in fiber and textile art, the multiple reasons that she keeps a small forest of plants in her home studio, and what will be keeping her busy for the rest of the summer!

Bio

Lizz Berry is the founder, maker, and innovator behind The Wild Textile. All of the products she creates are hand crafted in her home studio in Portland, Maine.  She is a hand-weaver, natural dyer, quilter, and all around fiber enthusiast. 

Her love for cloth began at an early age, when she was exposed to family heirlooms from India - some over a century old. Colorful antique silk saris and other complex weavings were a part of her childhood - whether it be forts, canopies, or costumes. These fueled her love not only for textiles, but also for the color and textures that enliven them. Today you can still find her home adorned with some of the very same pieces that inspired her as a child. 

Lizz received her B.F.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where she concentrated in Textiles. She spent her undergraduate years studying hand weaving, color application, and surface design via dyeing techniques.

More recently, she has integrated her fibers studio with her other life-long passion, the outdoors. She loves the simplicity of color in nature, and it never ceases to inspire her. Environmental conservation is also important to her, and she represents this value in her practices as often as possible. Color, the natural world, and fibers are the core elements of her creativity, and the unified embodiment of The Wild Textile.

When did you first become interested in art?

My interest in textile design has evolved from a variety of influences with one commonality: three dimensional, visual design. In grade school I wanted to be an architect, which later shifted to interior design and decorating. I experimented with every artistic medium that was available, both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout high school I took every single art class that was offered, except for Weaving. Ironically, I thought it sounded boring!  However, as a crafts major in college, my attitude quickly changed. I developed a passion for textiles after taking my first class. My focus began to gravitate towards functional pieces - scarves, blankets, linens, tableware and various items of home decor.  Throughout and following my college years, I worked in a sewing studio and fabrics store. This experience supplemented my passion for textiles with exciting new disciplines - sewing and quilting! On weekends and after work I also taught myself to forage for natural dyes and use my kitchen scraps for free sustainable colors that told a story. All of these practices have become key elements of The Wild Textile, and I suspect that my artistic interests will only grow more diverse in the years to come.  

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

Plant life, abundant light, and nature in every form. Whether it’s the ever-expanding urban jungle in my home studio,  the rocky coasts and sandy beaches of Maine, or the alpine zones of my favorite mountains - I constantly integrate the textures and colors of my natural surroundings with my work. Exploring the outdoors inspires me to build lively color palettes that facilitate unique combinations of surface designs. It is always an extra special day when I come across natural dyes to be foraged in my travels! Another key source of my textiles inspiration emanates from my family heirlooms. My grandmother was a missionary surgeon in Assam, India, and she bestowed to my family a variety of handwoven Indian saris, tapestries and fabrics. The standards of craftsmanship upheld by prior generations never ceases to astound me. I find myself connecting with these textiles more than ever, as I approach reading the end of her diary entries on life in India during the 1950’s. 

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What is your process like? 

I often find my process fluctuates between meticulously planning and complete improvisation. In some instances, I plan each weaving in precise detail to make sure they will work logistically. In these cases, I create multiple scales of drawings with different colorways, pattern options, and sizes. On other projects, I allow my process to depend solely on my instincts. This approach involves designing my pieces while simultaneously crafting them, and has created some of my most interesting weavings to date. I love making up patterns on the loom that have never existed, and perhaps never will again. I often find myself in a meditative state where my feet move across the foot pedals while barely looking down at what I am creating. Some weavers may find this odd, but I think this technique can create truly authentic combinations of texture and color. I am always anticipating the next weave structure to be accidentally discovered!

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I work out of my home studio in Portland, Maine. I have A LOT of house plants (over 70) scattered throughout my small apartment, which has abundant natural light. The plants are therapeutic to me, and also very functional in the photography process. I use them as backdrops in an effort to help the viewer visualize my products in a livable space. As an added bonus, it allows me to hide the nicks and bumps in my not-so-perfect wall from the early 1900’s.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

If you want to keep it, so will someone else! That’s how the majority of my products have developed. Create something for yourself - something that embodies the colors, textures, and emotions that inspire you - and before long you will have orders for more. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have recently signed on as Show Coordinator for the Maine Crafts Guild, which puts me in charge of organizing four large fine craft shows throughout the summer. This will keep me pretty busy over the next few months, but in my spare time I have been experimenting with a slew of great new materials for product prototypes. I am currently working on a brand new Fall line for the The Wild Textile, including more home decor items than ever, zipper pouches, sling bags, backpacks and more. Keep an eye out for this exciting release!

Check out The Wild Textile online or follow along on Instagram!

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