Posts tagged Paintings
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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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.

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.

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!

Studio Sunday: Seth Remsnyder

We’re so excited to be bringing you a Studio Sunday feature with Seth Remsnyder!

My current body of work is titled: “Signage”. These are paintings on metal pieces like signs. The paintings are non-representational works focused on color, arrangement and movement. Some are placed on sign posts and installed in the public to play off of the signage that covers our communities. The intent of this body of work is to place serious works of visual art in a public context that deals with the concept of taking notice of the world around us. Signage is intended to grab the attention. So is visual art. The difference is often the context. Why do we so often miss what we are supposed to see when we are out in the world? Is the benefit of visual art in the public space the benefit of helping us remember how to see? I propose that it is. My current work aims to play off of the concept of signage to confront the public with visual art work in the public spaces that we traverse and all too often ignore. Perhaps most important is the basic idea that works such as these hold the possibility of brightening the days of the residents of our communities.

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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 became interested in art when I was about 9 or so? I liked to draw well before that but my Mom stashed a little post Impressionism/Impressionism catalogue in her magazine rack and I saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh called “Stairway at Auvers” and I was blown away. I tried to paint a lot after seeing that. I think I know how to say it better now than I could have when I was younger but I looked at “Stairway at Auvers”, it was unreal, almost cartoonish in a very good way, but also, so real, so tangible, and dense that I felt like I was there with him. I never thought a picture could make me feel as strongly as that one did. I still get chills when I look at it. If you’re reading this, look it up.

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We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you and what inspired your series of metal painted signs specifically?

Well, van Gogh absolutely drove me to just go after color and to not be afraid of it so I think that was very formative for my approach to a palette... Perception is such an important part of life... attentiveness to what is going on around us or passing us by, and with my current body of work I am really getting a lot of imagination material from horizons that I see. Sunsets and sunrises and the stuff of life that’s kind of all crammed underneath the skyline is what I imagine most when I’m painting the lines in my work. So, if I see a certain gradient in the sky I try to amplify it a little as a backdrop for the lines I’m painting. I also just tend to think in masses of color so sometimes I just spray down a color and stare at it for a while and see what it reminds me of or what other colors it calls to mind. It never ceases to amaze me the way our minds make connections to certain colors. Another inspiration for the motifs, the lines and the compositions I’m making with them, is a sort of visualization of relationships. We travel along through life with other people, cross paths etc. and so I’m often painting two lines at a time together and then basing the rest of a piece off of those interactions. I think that we think of life in a very linear way... I don’t means straightforward, but rather, the concept in general. I think we all tend to see ourselves going through life in a kind of GPS kind of way. We imagine ourselves going places and we think of life as a path and that concept really interests me. I think lines are really an endlessly interesting motif.

What is your process like?

My process has changed a lot with the current work I’m doing. Spray paint and air brush removes a certain kind of control that I had spent a lot of time developing with a brush and I am really enjoying that. It has helped me forget myself in an important way. I was always very emotionally connected to the brush, the romance of an expressionist stroke runs deep with me so detaching myself from the work with spray has helped me think more clearly about my paintings. I’m more in tune with the formal elements now I think. Process is a strange thing... it always has to start with something metaphysical, as in, what got me working on a given day... and then its a matter of either improvising or trying to fulfill a plan. With my public work I’m really focusing on a certain kind of place to put my work. I want them to be in spaces that are easily visible but neglected. We don’t always see what we’re supposed to see when we’re out and about and we could probably go on all day about why that is but this work is meant to just go straight at a solution to that... namely, putting serious paintings in a signage form and trying to snag the eyes of passers by. I pay more attention to my world when I think I might be missing art along the way.

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

My current studio is on the first floor of my house. I love it. It’s fairly well lit and my family is around. I don’t need much space right now but I am really grateful for what I have... right now at least it’s more than enough.  Music is important to me, I kind of like everything. I do sometimes like to paint without it because the background noise of my kids watching Scooby Doo Where Are You or the old Batman TV show is such a happy kind prof background noise to me. Or, they’ll get caught up in such a good little kid jam session just playing some imaginary game together, my seven year old daughter playing with my three year old is the sweetest noise I can think of. They’re pretty hilarious too so I just listen to them and laugh while I work. One thing I definitely need is a pot of coffee. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too many years now and that’s my need I guess.

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being as artist is the way that it has helped me learn to use my eyes. I’ve been really fortunate to pursue my Masters Degree in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design over the past few years and I think the most important skill I’m leaving there with is a vastly improved ability to take notice of my world, the ability to really use my eyes and take things in. I’m so glad for that. I think it’s also helped me sharpen my memories too. I can remember colors from my childhood better now. I know that sounds strange but I think it’s true.

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

The big things going on for me right now: I graduate on Friday, May 31st!! I’ll be in Savannah to walk and get my degree! Who knows, maybe I’ll leave some signage behind too... My thesis exhibition is in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, June 7 at Gallery Edit on Broad Street and I’m excited to install this show. Last but not least, my wife and I added our fourth child to our family at the end of April!  His name is Hank and he’s the sweetest little guy. Mom and baby are both doing well. Oh yeah, getting picked up by PxP of course. Grateful.

Browse Seth’s available works with PxP Contemporary.

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Paintings of Envelopes and Eetters by Fern Apfel
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The envelopes and letters in Fern Apfel’s paintings are old and worn. Some have been repeatedly folded, and others stashed out of sight for years. Some offer nostalgic reminders of things that no longer exist; others are from bygone friends. They represent relationships that were maintained across distances and referential dialogues extending through many years. These images are symbols of an invisible string that binds us to each other. In old letters, we find loved ones, parents, old friends, and our old selves.

Apfel’s images suggest the symbiotic relationship between our past and our present, and present life not as then vs. now, but rather, as inescapable circles of time and memory and the antithesis of our digital society.

Fern Apfel has exhibited widely in the Northern Hudson Valley & Capital Region of New York State where she lives and has pictures in the permanent collections of The Hyde Collection, The Tang Teaching Museum, The Albany Institute of History & Art, SUNY Albany Museum, The Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon, The Columbia County Historical Society and Museum and The Art Students League of NY.

Apfel has exhibited at the Collar Works Gallery in Troy, NY in shows curated by Cara Manes, MOMA, NY, Alexandra Foradas, Mass Moca, and Ian Berry, The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College. She has exhibited at The Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz, The Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY and The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio among others.

www.ferntapfel.com

Loreal Prystaj
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Loreal Prystaj is a visual artist from New York now based in London. Presently she is attending the Royal College of Art, to obtain her MA in photography, and previously received her BFA in photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. Surrounded by a thriving “fashion environment” she planned on becoming a commercial photographer but chose to take a Fine Art direction where she felt she could express her ideas more freely.

She has had three solo exhibitions and participated in over thirty group exhibitions, including Arles Photo Festival (2018), MIA in Milan (2016) and selected to show with LifeFramer's travelling exhibition (2017).  Her work has been seen in galleries throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and China, and she presently has pieces included in the permanent art collection at the Erie Art Museum, Pennsylvania, since 2014.  Prystaj’s archive of work has led to guest lecturing at accredited universities, such as NYU, FIT and Columbia, in New York. She has been awarded jury prizes from more than ten photography competitions internationally, including Ashurst Art Prize (2018), ArtSlant (2017), Neutral Density (2016), and TIFA (2018), alongside with being published widely, from The Guardian (2018), The British Journal of Photography (2018), My Modern Met (2017) to multiple articles in L'oeil de la Photographie (2017, 2016, 2015).

Statement

Her work often exposes the relationship between a specific time and space, with a juxtaposition of the human form and its environment. She expresses ideas through her photography and uses the medium consistently - in installation and interactive pieces - as well as using herself as a character or form in her images, performance and video work.

Maggie Evans
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Maggie Evans is an artist based in Savannah, Georgia.  She uses painting, drawing, and site-specific installation to examine human collective behavior and the power structures, homogeneity, and social divisions that result.

Maggie’s work has been included in over fifty national and international juried exhibitions and a number of art publications, including New American Paintings and Manifest Gallery’s INPA 6.  Artist residencies include The Hambidge Center for the Arts, The Vermont Studio Center (full fellowship) and the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China.  She has had fourteen solo exhibitions and has been invited to lecture on her work at a number of institutions including Indiana-Purdue University and the University of Texas, Dallas. 

Maggie holds an MFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design (2008) where she has been a part-time Professor of Foundation Studies since 2009.  In addition to her work as an artist, she performs regularly as a professional jazz singer and bassist.

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Denise Stewart-Sanabria
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Denise Stewart-Sanabria was born in Massachusetts and received her BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. She has lived in Knoxville, TN since 1986.

 Sanabria paints both hyper-realist “portraits” of everything from produce to subversive jelly donuts. The anthropomorphic narratives often are reflections on human behavior. She is also known for her life-size charcoal portrait drawings on plywood, which are cut out, mounted on wood bases, and staged in conceptual installations.

 Her work is included in various museums, private, and corporate collections including: The Tennessee State Museum, The Evansville Museum of Art in Indiana, The Knoxville Museum of Art, Huntsville Museum of Art, Firstbank TN, Pinnacle Banks, Omni and Opryland Hotels, Scripps Networks, Knoxville Botanical Gardens, Jewelry Television, TriStar Energy, and the corporate offices of McGhee Tyson Airport

Artist Statement: Anthropomorphic Food Painting

Our relationship with what we eat is probably one of the most intimate relationships we have during our lifetime. It also, to a certain extent, can be a reflection of each individual human experience. Is what we want to eat risky? Is it adventurous or bland, or perhaps frightening? Is it healthy, or mired in toxic relationships? As a culture, what does our food say about us? If food itself was to enact human behavior, what would it do?

I use contemporary hyper-realism loosely informed by early European vanity painting clichés to explore these ideas. For instance, I’m not sure if 17th-century Spanish Baroque painter Juan Sánchez Cotán hung fruits and vegetables by strings to imitate how wild game was hung up in Dutch paintings of the time, or as a comment on the Inquisition. I like to think it is about the latter when I employ it.

Whether my paintings are an outright statement of some anthropological observation or a narrative of human foibles, I try to insert just enough humor and lusciousness to make them as palatable as possible. If I documented them literally, I would probably have constant censorship issues.

Over the years, I have had pears enact my Inquisition scenes, impaled maraschino cherries on nails, and had donuts enact the seven deadly sins and various fertility rites. My recent work involves allegorical narratives, driven by historical wallpaper appearing behind iconic contemporary baked goods and candy. A classic, regal French design is paired with a partially devoured Black Forest cake and decomposing flowers and then appears again behind a king cake, which is disgorging its Mardi Gras beads. A classic French pastoral toile print in a decidedly non-traditional color looms above a stack of artificially colored MoonPies and junk food. A classic Asian toile that I populated with Godzilla and his fellow movie monsters sits behind a vast array of candy that appears to have also been subjected to radioactive mutation.

I often combine artificially colored food with actual beauty products, such as fingernail polish in #130 Classic Coral Cream Glitter. I’ve actually embedded glitter in a painting to produce a more emboldened form of colored sugar in King Cake Glitter. I am presently continuing the series where I juxtapose a toile pattern I either design myself from scratch or discover, with ironic culinary foregrounds.

Stilllifes, or Vanitas, were originally domestic images containing items symbolic of life and death. Mine are about the human experience.

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Emma Hill
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My abstract paintings are spontaneous and intuitive, expressive and emotionally charged. Each picture begins with a single brush stroke, starting a conversation. A streak of turquoise leaps above a squiggle of parchment and lilac beside a glimpse of fluorescent pink. Prussian blue drips like pouring rain and brilliant white miniature dots light up the sky like stars. Gradually layers of colour build phrases of optimism. Inspired by nature, brush strokes grow, constantly explore, entwine, and then separate and die.

Working on a large format enables a sense of freedom, to get lost within the picture. The painting process follows a journey into the unknown. In taking risks and trusting my intuition, I embrace uncertainty and vulnerability, allowing the accidental to become the structural core. Markings are made, painted over, wiped off, and layered over.

Influenced by the sky and the sea, a painting is given meaning and becomes complete by engaging the imagination of the viewer, who recognises something for themselves. In that moment, a glimpse of the figurative or a hint of a memory begins to form, shapeshifting and disappearing deep into the clouds or ocean.

My artwork aims to create paintings to dream into where we can be happy just to be. Constructing an intuitive world to get lost into, somewhere beyond our vision, past the horizon, between the sky and the sea. A place to return and revisit, to explore and rediscover and while immersed, losing and finding yourself for a moment in time.

www.emmahill.co.uk

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Ivana Carman
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Ivana Carman (b.1991) is an emerging artist living and working in Philadelphia. Six years ago, she was a psychology major on track toward becoming a psychologist. After taking a few life-painting classes, she realized she couldn’t do anything else, and took a big leap of faith in transferring to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Little did she know how relevant that field of interest would be to the work she makes today.  

Statement

I find inspiration in the obscured, hidden in cabinets, drawers, and old notes, in the parts of my mind that unfold in solitude. As an observational painter, I’m simultaneously looking out at the world while registering my internal responses and desires, observing the overlooked outside of myself and within.

In my recent body of work, I deepen that exploration of interior vs exterior, expressing acute perceptions of my personal world and the psychological attachments underlying ordinary objects/spaces. I often use windows and mirrors as a symbol for a bridge between two worlds, revealing the ambiguities of the domestic space. Painting deeply personal objects and spaces from life requires a detached eye, making the final work evoke both intense vulnerability and emotional distance.

Carl Jung and his concepts of the unconscious mind – the idea that there is a well of fears, desires, and trauma just beyond the surface – inform my explorations. My recent work draws familiar materials from childhood (cut paper, pastel and crayons), which allows me to respond to my own unconscious desires with naïve spontaneity. After years of restricting myself to paint on canvas, I feel a greater openness to experimentation as my practice expands beyond the weight of historical painting traditions.

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Carrie Pearce
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Carrie Pearce was born in Peoria, IL in 1969. She has been drawing and painting as long as she can remember. Her earliest memories include a Walt Disney light-up table and asking her mom to draw her pictures as she described them to her. Carrie's first major inspiration came from Ann Adams, an artist who drew with a pencil between her teeth. At the age of 6, Carrie was amazed at her ability, and tried to duplicated her drawings with and without pencil in her teeth. Carrie attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia where she graduated with honors.  In 2007, Upon seeing DaVinci’s portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, she declared, “I want to paint like that”. Her paintings can be described as imaginary realism.  Although dedicated to the 16th Century techniques of the Masters, she also finds room for the occasional scribble, inspired by children’s drawings. Pearce describes her work as emotional portraits rather than portraits of people. The people are inspired by turn of the century photos that she finds at antique stores and estate sales.

Carrie's work has been featured both nationally and internationally. She is a "Living Artist" with the Art Renewal Center, a website dedicated to revival of realism in fine art. Recently, has been announced as 1 of 10 finalists for the $50,000 Bennett Prize. 

I Make Shit Up, Is That Too Harsh? An Artist Statement by Carrie Pearce

The underpinning of my work is the story. I guess you could say I am a “Story Painter of Half-truths”. I aim to create an image that has never been seen through Imaginary Realism. I enjoy digging stories out of my brain and creating a new world on the plane of two-dimensional panel.

Everything has a story, every person, animal and object came from somewhere and carries it’s history like a ghost. Perhaps, this is why I am drawn to the haunting, turn of the century photos for my subjects. Where did you come from? What became of you? What do you want to be when you grow up? They rarely answer...

My enjoyment in the creation of art lies in the making of... “making shit up”. (BTW I am tired of being PC.) So, you will see people, wildlife, and still-life paintings aimed to entertain you and convey events real or imagined through images, improvisation, and embellishment.

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Eliana Marinari
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Eliana Marinari is a visual artist living and working in Geneva.

Her paintings, created by superposition of glazing layers of aerosol paint on ink and pastel drawings, are a surreal representation of the subject, speaking of both the distorted quality of memory and the ephemeral nature of our experiences. 

The vestigial image composed of transparent imperceptible paint particles, mimics the process of creating a visual representation of an image in our mind, which is matched in our memory to attribute meaning.

Eliana began her training in Florence as a scientist, while studying Art under the mentoring of Greta Villa from Academy of Florence. She continued her studies in London, where she obtained an interdisciplinary PhD at University College London (2008-2011).  In 2012, she continued her studies at Central St Martins, focusing on her studio practice and her interpretation of realism in figurative painting. She then moved to Switzerland, where she continued her quest in bridging the gap between Art and Science. In 2015, she received the prestigious Swiss National Funding Award for the development of an interdisciplinary project.

Her work has been exhibited and held in private collections in Switzerland, Italy and UK and it has been featured by thejealouscurator and BOOOOOOOM among others.

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Monica Ikegwu
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Monica Ikegwu is a 20-year-old Baltimore based figure painter. She has been awarded as a first place winner in the XL Catlin Art prize (2018), a Young Arts Finalist (2017), a Gold medal winner in the NAACP ACT-SO National competition (2016), and as a Scholastic silver medal portfolio winner (2016). Her work was recently displayed and exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis museum, as well as at Ida B’s Table in a joint show early in 2018. She now attends and studies at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as a Junior.

Statement

Monica Ikegwu’s work is structured upon the portraiture and depiction of African Americans. She displays figures rendered in the three dimension while accompanied with two dimensional design elements. Her work brings to focus subtleties that she notices in the black community, as well as her personal life. Living in Baltimore and the way that she experiences it plays a big role in the ideas that she develops for the work. Taking feelings and aspects from her surroundings, she presents them in a way that is not only captivating but also unconventional. The figures presented in her work are often times her siblings and family from whom she draws most of her inspiration from as she watches them progress through life.

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