Hi Steph! We met not so long ago at an exhibition opening, so I am really excited to get to know you better. Can you talk about your personal journey as an artist?
I was always drawing, even as a very young kid, so everyone knew I had artistic aptitude, but my parents were not thrilled about my wanting to go to art school. So I had to go into Illustration, which I explained to them was "commercial" art, and therefore I could (possibly) make money doing it. When I started college my parents didn't want me to move out, so I had to commute from Westminster to Laguna Beach to the Laguna College of Art Design for my BFA in Illustration. I graduated in 1995, worked for a few years in “the real world” and decided to go to grad school while I still could and went to the School of Visual Arts in NYC for my MFA. They were two very different programs, which was great for my art training.
What does a regular studio day look like for you?
I'm a total morning person so I like to get in there as early as I can, usually before ten, and I work anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on what's going on. I usually have a podcast or NPR news going on in the background while I work, and sometimes music. I usually have several different projects going on so I like to work on a variety of things when I'm in there, from tiny watercolor paintings to large acrylic on canvas paintings. I’m also taking the time to relax a bit while I’m in there, looking through my art books or just letting my mind wander, which I think is good for receiving creative inspiration, but I need a proper couch in there—like you have in your studio.
You work with in a few different types of mediums. Do you have a favorite?
I feel the most comfortable working with acrylic on canvas--that's what I've done the most of, but lately I've been doing a lot more watercolor and also getting back into mixed media, which is really fun.
What is your favorite thing to draw?
Well, if you follow me at all on social media you'll see a lot of cat art, lol. I love working with organic forms, whether animal or vegetable. You're not going to see a lot of paintings of buildings or man-made objects in my art.
I've seen that you have a sketchbook handy with you and you recently had a few books in "The Sketchbook Show." Is a sketchbook a regular part of your art practice?
Yes, and it has been since my time in NY in the late 90s. During that program, called Illustration as Visual Essay, we were strongly encouraged to have a book on us at all times to capture drawings or jot down notes and ideas, and while I hadn't been as diligent when I came back out to CA, I'd picked it back up again in earnest the last couple of years and I'm determined to keep it up. It's kind of a pain sometimes having to devote bag space to it, but it doesn't have to be a big book, and I'm always glad I have it.
You are a founding member of Art Clout, how did Art Clout get started?
It all started when I was a guest last year on Dave Conrey's podcast, Art Lessons. We were talking about the Long Beach art scene and how we felt like we didn't know as many of its artists as well as we should, so we decided that we should form a group to help artists socialize and form bonds that could lead to future friendships and collaborations. We brought artist Dave Clark into it because we felt like he was the guy who knew the most people, along with his wife Carol. They were really active in the scene and just going out there and seeing stuff all the time and meeting tons of people. We realize that being social doesn't come naturally to a lot of artists, but just making the effort to go out every once in a while and talking to some new people can reap amazing benefits. So we started in September of 2019 and we were astounded by the response we had--artists were hungry for connections and resources, and we felt like we were offering a valuable service to our community.
Do you have a specific role or duties at Art Clout?
No, we kind of divide up tasks depending who's available and willing--it's a very egalitarian and informal group, which is how we like it thus far. If it grows much more I suppose we may have to consider having specific titles and duties but for now it's been ok just doing it the way we've been doing it. Of course, due to the pandemic our activities have been severely curtailed, but we've been keeping up the blog and the Facebook group, which is about all we can do for now.
How has this pandemic affected your art practice?
For a while in the beginning I wasn't going into the studio as much because I wanted to limit my outside exposure as much as possible, but since things are loosening up and it's really just me in the studio and I don't come into contact with hardly anyone in that building I've been emboldened to go in much more often lately. I've also been very fortunate that my graphic design business hasn't been affected too much, since that is my real bread and butter.
Whats are you working on now and what do you have planned next?
I just finished up a painting for the county-wide exhibit "We Are Here/Here We Are" and a couple of pieces for the Greenly Art Space fundraiser show. I have two continuing projects: "SMOL" is a series of small watercolor paintings of rescue kittens, and I’m making more acrylic on canvas paintings for my Graphic Flora series (pictured).
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