1) You have moved a lot and lived in many different places. How has this affected your artistic self? You know, it is difficult for me to imagine not moving around. I am one of those rare people who love it. With each move I have a different perspective with my art. For so many years it was very structured, however looking back on that structured time I can see how it continued to loosen up with each move. Actually, my friend Lesley McIver is the one who pointed out to me how much my paintings had changed with this last move from England back to the United States. The move before that from Virginia to England oddly gave me the gift of working large and really challenging myself with lots of exploration of paint. When we moved from Texas to Virginia I moved from drawing (pens, pencils, pastels, etc.) to the freedom of abstractly and lyrically expressing myself with paint. It is not to say I would not change my work when I am in one place, however it does open a different door. How has it influenced your life perspective? Moving has opened a whole new world for me. As you can imagine living in different settings and meeting different people has helped me to clarify just what it is I need and want in my life. I see lots of different ways of looking at issues which are important in my life – education, sustainability, healthcare, relationships, etc. It has also helped me to understand what it means to be a woman no matter what your experience. I think moving has help me to understand we all have a story and we all deserve to be heard and respected. I have also learned a lot of patience, because I often have no idea when the next move is going to happen and how fast or slow it might happen. Forcing what is to be is something which has not worked out well in this life I have.
2) You have a great respect for process, for noticing the small steps that go into making things whether in art or in life. Where did this sensibility come from? Oh, I am not sure where that came from. I have always been curious and would drive adults around me insane when I was younger (so I learned to keep my thoughts to myself). Even as an adult I had trouble finding people who would “wonder about things” with me…everyone wanted answers not questions. I suppose blogging has given me a platform for my wondering and blog readers are dealing with years of pent up curiosity. Or put another way who or what influenced you in this respect? I wish I could put my finger on a person or group of people who prodded me along that path. I just cannot do that.
3) You were an interior designer at one time. What do you miss about that world? I miss the opportunity of creating environments which made a difference in the lives of people. However that is also the part which became the most difficult because usually those kinds of environments were very rarely realized for one reason or another. Does your early experience with interior designing influence your paintings of today? Absolutely…it makes me just the artist I am now. Interior designers have to completely understand the elements and principles of design which are also the elements and principles of art. The nature of design school in the late 1970’s was learning to appropriately design on a 2 dimensional surface so it translates well 3 dimensionally. In my case, I have been a student of art for well over 30 years. It is funny the first thing I think of when I stand back from a painting is the space where it will look the best. I never, ever think of it hanging on a white wall, it is always with color behind it. I also think of how it might be presented in a different way with all of the elements of an interior space supporting the art and the art supporting the vision for the interior environment.
4) What are your favorite books on: art, child raising or education, and interior design? I read Mothering Magazine when the kids were little, but mainly I listened to my own inner voice about raising my children. Basically respecting the people they were and not trying to make forceful changes in their personalities was really important to me. I loved reading John Holt’s ideas about education. Both David Gutterson and John Taylor Gatto had a great impact on our decision to homeschool our children, however.
My great loves in interior design (aside from applying my creativity) is the psychology of design and design sustainability. Here are a few interior design books I really love:
A Pattern Language: Towns-Buildings-Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murry Silberstein
House as a Mirror of Self by Clare Cooper Marcus
Sustainable Architecture White Papers. By Earth Pledge Foundation
The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions by Winifred Gallagher
Archetype Design: House as a Vehicle for Spirit by Vishu Magee
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
The New Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologicaly Sound Home by David Pearson
Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski
Healing Environments by Carol Venola
Sacred Space by Denise Linn
And these I consider support books which are not design books, but helped me to shape ideas about design:
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R
A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder. By Michael Pollan
Art books are fun for me, but they are few and far between. Often I focus on abstraction and process books. Here are a few of the Art Books I love:
Abstract and Color Techniques in Painting by Claire Harrigan
Abstract Painting: Concepts and Techniques by Vicky Perry
Beyond Realism by Brian Ryder
The Tao of Watercolor by Jeanne Carbonetti
Acrylic Revolution by Nancy Reyner (note: this book was clearly commissioned by Golden Paint Company)
Arteffects by Jean Drysdale Green
Art Escapes by Dory Kanter (this is a daily exercise book, however I do not use it that way)
The Artist’s Quest for Inspiration by Peggy Hadden
Inspiring Creativity edited by Rick Benzel, M.A. (this is an anthology of insights and ideas)
The Encyclopedia of Acrylic Techniques by Hazel Harrison
Art From Intuition by Dean Nimmer
Spiritual Doodles & Mental Leapfrongs by Katherine Q. Revoir
Spirit of Drawing by Connie Smith Siegel
Colour by Victoria Finlay (I purchased this book in England, so in the US the title may be spelled differently. It is also more of a history of color than anything…I highly recommend it, though.)
Why A Painting Is Like A Pizza by Nancy G. Heller
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
The Artist Way by Julia Cameron
5) Music is important to you in your creative process. Can you talk a little about that and list a few of your favorite pieces or CD's? I do listen to music while I am in my studio. When I am painting large works…basically standing at my easel..I like to move around a lot to the music (dancing in my own way). I will listen to all kinds of things when I am doing that from Queen to Willie Nelson (which is as country as I can go). When I am doing small paintings or just messing around with little bits I tend to listen to softer music which more or less blends in the background (if it stops, I usually don’t even realize it). I only know the music I love and am not at all a music head. I adore my little iPod and use it often. Here is a bit of what I love:
Electric Light Orchestra
Five for Fighting
The Moody Blues
Simon and Garfunkel
There are so many more I listen to, but this gives you a flavor. While music is important to me, so are all of the arts. I find it is often the arts which influence my painting and it might be music, but it also might be a poem or a novel which I am reading. I honestly only tap into my emotions when I paint, but I also recognize a lot of the time the arts pull my emotions out.
Suki, thanks so much for doing this. As you know I feel the process of sharing is so important to me and now I feel as though I have been interviewed, too.
Here's the instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me".
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.