In 2016, I enrolled in an informal art class and made drawings and paintings where I experimented with pastels, acrylics, charcoal, and graphite. It was the first time as an adult that I discovered a dormant need to create and experiment. I’m not sure when, but over time I became a spectator to other people’s creativity. Art was for people who were great at making it. Art museums and gallery show openings were a destination during my weekends. It didn’t dawn on me until this class that I have a creative voice and a desire to slow down and observe and really look at the world around me.
Having no formal training, I searched for a local fundamental art class and found one where I learned about all the things I imagined art school would teach – value, lighting, form, color theory, composition and artist tools. I discovered that I want to learn the craft of realistic drawing and painting. I would like to have a basic understanding of art principles before embarking on how to use them or break away from them in the future.
I joined a painting group that primarily painted classical realism style still life paintings. Many were masters of the trade and I learned that I had a lot of practice and learning ahead of me. It was intimidating and thrilling, but I ultimately learned that I need to spend time in the studio to practice. I also needed a quiet environment to really listen to my creative instincts.
My first still life paintings were based on objects I found at the MoMA store – a folding wood robot and an anime-style porcelain bunny cookie jar. Finding objects that I want to paint is limited to what is around me and the amount of money I want to put towards it. I don’t particularly want to spend money on objects for a single painting, and I do not enjoy the time spent on hunting for objects (tag sales, consignment shops, online stores). I also am not drawn to classic still life subject matter – fruit, bowls, instruments, flowers, antique pieces, etc. But the craftsmanship and observation skills that are required with classical realism is exactly the discipline I want to strive for in my paintings. I appreciate the craft and hope to learn over time how to capture more and more of the physical world around me.
My reluctance to collect stuff forced me to rethink my starting point in still life paintings. I decided to embark on creating my own objects and enrolled in a ceramics class. What better way to truly practice and learn how to draw and paint form then to have it in my hand and physically hand build it? Some ceramics I have made are abstract shapes that lend themselves naturally to explore abstraction in my paintings. Other ceramics have become the subject matter of my still life character paintings. It’s a slow process from start to finish, but it feels very personal and honest, with room to grow.
Currently, I have an art studio in the Ossining Bethany Arts Community in New York.