Posts tagged Metropolis
Depicting The Urban Environment: Interview with Whitney Babin

In my art, I explore the world in which I live. My artwork is a personal exploration of my environment and emotions. Each individual views his or her surroundings in a unique way. As an artist, I have an opportunity to portray images of my everyday life through my line of vision. Living in Philadelphia and Lancaster has had a vast influence on my subject matter. My interest in depicting an urban environment gradually developed into a fascination with the city at night, and the depiction of light and motion. For me, the city has always been an intriguing environment. I experience it as something that never sleeps; it seems more like a living organism than a place. During the day, people overpower the city. The buildings become a backdrop to the diverse crowd wielding its way through the streets. However, at night, the city itself comes to life and the people are the backdrop. The lights and the sounds create an atmosphere all their own. This energy of changing light and motion makes it a place of constant interest for me and has created a vast subject for me to work with in my paintings.

www.whitneybabinart.com

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Tell us about your background in the arts. When did you decide to pursue painting?

Growing up, my family moved frequently during middle school / high school. The only place I felt instantly accepted into a new school was when I was in the art room. It wasn’t until college that I took my first painting class. After taking one class, I decided to focus my major in painting. I traveled to Rome to study art history, and received a BFA from University of the Arts.

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When did you start painting the urban landscape? How do you feel your work has developed over the past few years?

My first urban landscape came after a series of portrait paintings I was working on. I liked painting portraits, but was feeling frustrated and not sure about the future direction of my work. I was living in Philly at the time and would spend a lot of time walking around the city listening to music. I came to realize that city itself was a source of inspiration. At night, the city emitted a kinetic energy. It was as if the building and the cars came to life around you. I realized that I wanted to capture the energy of the city in my work, more so than the actual architecture. As my work progressed, I became interested in light and how it could depict life, motion, and energy with one brushstroke. My original work was dark, with limited light. As my work progressed and developed, color and abstract marks that represented cars, or buildings became a focus. My tools have expanded beyond brushes to also include, squeegees, brayers, and palette knives.

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How does each piece come to life? Tell us about your inspiration, references, and process.  

I travel between Philadelphia and New York as often as possible. On every trip I take photos of the city, as well as lights reflected on the streets, or reflected on rain splattered roads. While many city scenes I paint have a specific location that I focus on, many are made up of a collection of images or lights.

I recently started painting on wood rather than canvas. I’ve enjoyed working on a smooth surface and it’s allowed me to build paint in a different way.

I start by sketching a rough outline of the skyline and road. I put a base layer of color down then use, brayers and squeegees to streak paint and create blurs. I then go back into the piece with brushes to build detail and light. Each painting is unique and I try to experiment with at least one new process or technique to keep evolving my work.

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Name a few artists that you look up to.

Jeremy Mann, Michael Chamberlain, Edward Hopper, John Wentz, Gavin Glakas

We noticed you have several different bodies of work, which is exciting. How do you feel they relate to each other? How are they different? 

I’m a strong believer that every piece of art you create, regardless of the theme, leads to development and growth. I love experimenting with abstract painting styles. It’s helped me to understand how streaks of color relate to one another and has influenced the way I paint buildings and streets. I don’t think it’s safe to only paint one subject matter. I love painting urban landscapes, but I’m also a fan of taking a day to paint flowers with watercolor, or push acrylic around a canvas with a squeegee. I had a teacher once tell me that I should “stick to what I’m good at.” That advice bothered me for years because, as an artist I want to constantly be challenging myself to refine my techniques and to explore new approaches to art. I want to keep it fresh and invigorating.  

What is a must-have item in the studio? 

Music! I can’t express how much a great song (preferably an entire album) can lead to an entire day in the studio flying by. My studio is in my house, and anytime I paint I have a candle going, music on, and plants and paints scattered throughout the room. 

What do you love to do when you are not in the studio?

My husband is a woodworker. I draw all the designs for his furniture and help him on his projects. It’s an entirely different creative outlet and I’ve really come to love it. We’ve slowly restored our house from the 1840’s entirely on our own, one room at a time. We’re now building furniture for friends. Since working as an artist, can be very isolating at times, I like that I get to collaborate in a creative way in a new medium.

Interview: Verdjinia Stefani Doycheva 

My inspiration comes from everything that surrounds me. I like to observe nature, people's behavior and way of thinking and the way we all live. "Life in the big city" is a very interesting topic for me. I worked on it for my graduation work last year. It's called "Metropolis". It reveals my impressions of the atmosphere in places like capitals. My last project is "Mindscape" series. It represents many landscapes mixed in one painting. My idea is to place the viewer in a spot where he is able to discover many different things. He can see through time and space. The earth becomes transparent for him. Throughout the years, I have tried different techniques and approaches while creating. I love to experiment. I express myself through painting, video art and music. 

You can learn more about Verdjinia on facebook and behance.

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When did you discover you had an affinity for art?

Since a little child, I used to create different things like paintings, cards, sculptures or fashion sketches. That was my favorite time spent next to playing with other kids in the neighborhood. My mother noticed that and suggested to apply in the National School of Fine Arts in Sofia. Then I started professional lessons.  

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Tell us about what inspired your current work.

In the last six months, I work on my project called “Mindscape”. It means a landscape of the mind.  I’m inspired by the east philosophies like Buddhism and Yoga. I’m influenced by the teachings where the man is presented as a very potential being. It is said that after certain practices and self-control of the mind the human being can become enlightened and develop a higher state of mind and spirit. In the paintings, I want to present a part of my impression of this philosophy.  I want to give the viewer the sense that is able to see through time and space. He can overcome the sensory borders and see the changes of the past. To achieve this effect I combine many images and I make them half transparent. It’s a process in which I have to think more before I paint because, with every image I add, the painting becomes more complex.

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How do you come up with the images in your paintings? Do you travel to various cities or observe what's around you?

I think they are the result to all of my experience. Also, I observe all the time no matter what I do. I think every situation in life and place can be an inspiration for an artist.

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How do you overcome creative blocks and replenish your inspiration?

In these periods I just do something else like studying or traveling. I have a rest from the work I’ve done lately and I try to discover something new and interesting.

What do you hope the viewer learns from your paintings?

I hope my paintings give people positive feelings. I would like to remind them of creativity as a way to express in life even if they are not connected to art in a professional way.   Creativity can be a part in every aspect of life.

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Do you feel your work is part of a greater conversation in today's art world? If so, how?

Yes, I think that every artist who tries to discover more and show to people different perspectives in our society and culture is a part of this greater conversation, even not only in the art world but in general. Art is next to politics, philosophy or psychology. In my opinion art either as an inspiration and somehow entertainment can also be a really significant way to guide or criticize the public.

Tell us about your favorite activities outside of the studio.

One of my favorite things to do is traveling. I love to explore new cultures, places, and people. Also, I sing in my free time and now I’m trying to create my own musical pieces.  Other things I like are going to exhibitions or concerts with my family and friends.