Tell us about yourself. What does being an artist mean to you?
I believe that everyone has the ability to be creative, and that when we give ourselves permission to be creative, we can change the world. My art is a learning tool for me. I use it to tap into my inner wisdom and express what I find difficult to put into words. Painting for me is a way to dig deep and discover what I have been feeling, as well as what I have learned over the years through spiritual growth and healing. Being an artist means communion for myself but also with others who share the same life experiences. When I paint I feel like I am vibing with the pulse of humanity, and feel connected to something. I also enjoy that I’m doing my part in showing other people that you can find a creative voice and hone it over time. I wasn’t always a painter, nor did I know how to draw in the early part of my life. I only discovered it as I allowed myself to explore my creative side, after having worked in the field of research for so long.
What is your work space or studio like?
Messy and mobile! Whenever I create, everything in my space becomes disorganized and in disarray, because my one focus is completing the work. I have a space in my living room with an easel, a desk, markers and art on the walls - for inspiration. However, I never create in that space. As a digital artist I create whenever and wherever I am and feel inspired. I actually carry my big laptop and pen tablet around with me just so I can paint. So in describing my real studio... It looks like open fields and mountains and trees because I frequent nature a lot, and like to paint there. And sometimes it looks like my messy bed, when I just woke up and my creativity is on the edge of my consciousness.
Please explain the method behind your creative process.
The majority of my work is vector art, meaning I draw with a mouse using a computer program that translates my mouse strokes into mathematical patterns that become images. This is typically how I make my portraits. Starting out with a source photo, I use my mouse to draw a series of lines, points and polygons arranging them in such a way that I create the image I desire. Along the way, I apply various fills and textures to the shapes to create lines, shadows, and depth. Once I build my image, I apply varying combinations of computer effects to the vectors until I create my desired texture. Sometimes, I will paint on a substrate by hand, doodle a sketch or photograph an image and scan it into my computer and work from there, tracing over it, or using it as a background. I refer to this process as digital painting, as I work from a set of swatches I mix on the computer platform and the program’s brush palette to create paint-like textures.
What inspires you to create? What role, if any, does identity play in your art? Please explain.
People in raw, honest moments when they think no one’s looking, and when they are coming into themselves, and owning who they are. This is the reason my focus is on portraiture. My body of work mainly explores issues related to womanhood, beauty, sexuality and identity as they are defined by gender roles, skin color, and racial identity. My goal is to find common ground across social constructs for race and gender by mimicking the techniques of the Fauves in a digital space. I rely upon either very vibrant colors or muted colors to express emotion, exaggerate skin colors and to explore the identity of the subject beneath the image.
How does traveling (domestically or internationally) influence your creative process?
I’m obsessed with natural settings, because they recharge and help me to go into a meditative place that allows me to access my creativity. One of my pieces, Attune is a self-portrait reflecting my experiences in natural settings. In that painting, a bird rests on my neck, speaking to me the secrets of nature and the love therein found. There is something about the stillness and quiet of nature, as well as the way plants/trees die and are born again, that grounds me and helps me to understand the flow of life which inspires me to paint.
Is it important for your art to communicate a message? Please explain.
It is important for my art to communicate a message because my definition of art is that it is communication at its finest. It is a tool for finding the extraordinary in the hum drum and can express things that are difficult to articulate verbally. With that said, the messages I try to communicate through my art are meant to be felt not heard nor translated into words. It’s always great when a person can get my intended meaning behind the piece but it’s even better when they find their own meaning in the piece.
In your opinion, what is the best city in the world to see art?
That question is difficult for me to answer given that there are so many cities that are iconic hubs for art that I still need to visit. However, my painting style originated from the Fauves so based on that I would love to go to Paris to study the greats.
With which artist and in what location, would you like to have lunch? What would you order?
Franciose Nielly, a knife painter from France, who paints with bold fluorescent colors and emotions. I probably would order a salad, because I would be too enamored to order anything else. Plus, I’d be eager to get back to the studio and study with her.
It has been said that “art and wine go hand in hand…” Please talk about your wine of choice and the three artists with whom you would like to share it.
Since my favorite artists and artistic style is inspired by French artists, I’d have to share a full bodied glass of quality French Bordeaux with Henri Matisse, founder of the Fauve movement, Paul Cezanne, who’s work inspired the Fauvism movement, and Martina Shapiro, a contemporary Jewish artist who paints in the Fauve style.
Are you familiar with Basquiat (1996), Pollock (2000) and Frida (2002)? In the essence of these biopic films, whom would you want cast for your role? Please explain.
I don’t know enough about these films to say but I think I identify most with Frida, who turned her disability into creativity. I have suffered from disabling depression over the years and often find myself in the bed painting to keep myself going. In a biopic about me I would cast Kimberly Elise who can connect with any character she plays and delivers emotionally stirring performances that touch people at a guttural level. She would be able to capture the depth of my feelings and emotions that I have worked through over the years, and healed through painting.