Gawkei, 60 x 50 cm, paintmarker,
glitter & acrylic on canvas, 2011
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am epoxying some coconut shells together and just gessoed a new canvas. I need to buy some new materials, I tend to work too fast and use up paint way too fast for my economic standing. Coconuts are cheap and epoxy isn’t bad either.
Can you describe your working routine?
I tend to work on one or two things at a time. I work most days for about 2-14 hours. What I mean is, I try to work every day at least a couple of hours. I get kind of obsessed about finishing something when I get going on it and sometimes spend 14 in a row. I rarely ever finish anything in a day or so, though. I find painting a bit faster as you don’t have to build it first, sometimes I do one in the middle of working on a sculpture. They inform each other somehow and that helps me work.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I live in a row house and actually my living room is the studio. It is big enough and I always have done it that way since school (I mean my studio was part of where I lived and I didn’t travel to get there). I like the TV and computer on so I can waste time when paint is drying or I am sitting and looking a little distraction clears my mind and I like sensory overload. Being here in Thailand affects my work more than the actual psychical space that I work in. I do tend to work smaller than I did when I lived in a big place that I felt was my home. I like small work as much as I like big things so that isn’t really that important, some of my favorite things are not that large. I think a ‘big expression” can be gotten out of a very intimate piece.
It is a practicality too, as I feel I will move away and shipping is harder and more expensive with larger works. I do like it here but also think I will go to someplace that feels more like “home” again at some point. In general I did feel that way about NYC and I miss that. I really like some of the natural “trash or junk” here that I use in my work. Bamboo and coconut shells are kind of throw aways and they work well for me. Also there are craft items that I like to use, glass boxes, candle holders and such things for Buddha shrines that Thais use in their homes. There is a kind of folk or handmadeness that I like about these objects. I like that using them and feel as a non Thai contemporary artist it recontextualizes them. In my (relatively speaking) flat paintings, I have been using glitter for about eight or nine years now and years and I feel that one of the attractions of moving here in the first place was seeing the temples with the glass/mirror mosaics and the sort of stacking of forms.
Over The Under, 40 x 30 cm, paintmarker,
glitter & acrylic on canvas, 2011
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Well, first of all it really isn’t where I start that is important, it is how I finish things that counts for me. I work pretty improvisationally, but I change up how I start things from time to time. Sometimes I will just drag my brush over a prepared canvas while I am working on another to start it, I really like to use all of my paint and not waste it. Painting to me is about build up and mostly about addition, I think that is why some of my work is completely 3D but I still consider it all as painting. I realize that strictly speaking there is no doubt they are sculptures and that does have a different mindset in the doing and viewing of them but I am a painter first and the sculptures are made to be covered with materials in a painting way. Even the building of them is more like collage to me, which I think of as a painting process. The works are sometimes thought out, in that I have a vague notion of what I want out of the materials and what I am going to do to achieve it but I find working with too much of a plan constraining. I tend to find most of my processes involve some sort of stacking; either forms or illusions or paint. It is kind of about showing how I got to the spot I am at when I finish but also about making it look just right to me. I spend a lot of time looking at things.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Usually I have trouble resolving works when I am into like the 4 or 5th thing in a series of related works. I sometimes like to switch up too fast because of that and when I do, a year later I will come to the conclusion that “this work sucks” and paint over it. I try to give that process and time limit a chance, as thoughts about what I did before and work I have done over has changed too. I usually have a notion of what I want out of a piece but I like to surprise myself, so if I don’t feel that as I work, I tend to have more trouble getting trough it. I like the struggle for the most part though. If I just pop one out, I always think the work has kind of a superficialness. It may or may not, in fact but I trust my instinct on that. There are times I just hit something right and quickly but they are few and far between.
Taxidermy Puff, mixed media, 2011
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I do try things out and see where they lead me. It took experimenting to get me to the processes I use now and I change them sometimes but in general I know what I want when I try a new thing out. In some ways at least technically, I know what I am going to get if I try something new out. It may take a bit of time to perfect it and then develop ideas that come from doing it.
What does the future hold for this work?
I am always trying to grow and learn new things, that is in general what I get out of working, practice and of course, exchanges with others. A bigger audience and more support would be great and I hope and work towards that. I like to work to learn. It usually develops in a kind of cylindrical way, I do new things and find how they work with ideas that always seem to repeat themselves in the work. Most of the time it is not an intentional thing. I think most artists do that after years of working. I hate to be concrete about any statement I might make about the future though.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for asking me to talk about my work. It is so nice when people take an interest. It is an honor and a pleasure. I love that the Internet has given rise to this kind of exchange and appreciate your doing this Valerie.
Embryonic Fluid, 40 x 30 cm, paintmarker,
glitter & acrylic on canvas, 2012