Monday, December 10, 2012


Front Row Seats at the Theater of the Absurd,
2012, oil on linen
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I'm working on paintings of still lifes, mirrors, interiors, and a self-portrait. There's a landscape and a few other things in progress as well. I'm also working on a series of watercolors for a separate project.
Can you describe your working routine?
I wake up early and spend a couple of hours doing office work, going for a run, prepping canvases and anything else that doesn't involve a paintbrush in hand. Sometimes I get a late start, but after that I average about 6-8 hours a day of studio time depending on what I've got going on. I take a short espresso break at 2pm and continue working until I feel comfortable stopping. I usually take Sundays off.  My teaching schedule was spread out this semester, so I had shorter hours during the week and put in overtime on the weekends. I prefer having long, uninterrupted hours/days in the studio, but even just walking through the studio will prompt me to pick up a brush or think about the work from a new perspective. I try and change out of my pajamas before painting, but that doesn't always happen.

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I've worked in several studio spaces, ranging from barely legit live/work spaces in urban areas of Chicago, to a converted garage behind my home in Culver City, California. My work has evolved over the course of my practice and has been affected in subtle, and not so subtle ways, by my response to each location. A couple of years ago I moved into my childhood home to take care of some things, and in doing so my studio and domestic life became glommed together as one. The work became more representational, and I began using artifacts and observations from my surroundings as starting points for reconstructing personal narratives. I've been working moderately small, ranging from 7 inches to 5 feet. I can be fairly prolific  and paint quickly when I want to, though my current process is slower. I work on easels, tables, the floor, wherever. If it's small enough, I hold a painting in my hand or cradled in my arm and hover over my palette table while I'm painting. I use two adjoining rooms as the main paint studio, but I also move a small easel around to explore different settings. I work in the garage when the weather is nice. My studio is on a couple of acres- it’s not rural, but there's a sense of space and privacy. In a way, the work is feeding off the isolation and the entanglement of home and studio, but I anticipate a time when I may need to move on to a more standard way of working again, whatever they may be, and it's possible the work will shift again.


Transplant with Lady Painter and Prince Aha
2012, oil on canvas, 14 x 11"

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

It can begin with a memory, an object, an observation, something I read. Anything, really. When I was working abstractly, I would mentally store all of this information and approach a canvas using process as my starting point. Now that I'm working more representationally the hardest  part is choosing what to paint. After that gets decided, I'm freer to navigate off course, but I still like having a tangible thing nearby as a reference. I vary my approach to painting and don't think too much about how I'm going to paint something. The paintings are as much about the physical process of painting and the inherent possibilities within that process to generate meaning, as they are about what's depicted on the canvas. Much of my process involves trying to get something right and yet in the end I'm not concerned with correctness. Sometimes I think I've willed a painting into being.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I worry that I've become a boring painter and even worse, I secretly relish this. And then there's that thing between abstraction and representation I so often mull over. I angst quite a bit and can be full of self-doubt. I have trouble resolving that as well.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I'm pretty much a purist now

What does the future hold for this work?

One of my self-portraits is in About Face, a portraiture show at ACME. in Los Angeles (Nov 17-Dec 22, 2012), and I'm participating in the MAS: Attack (Mutual Admiration Society) show at the LA Mart in January. The watercolors are part of a temporary public art installation in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX next year. I have a solo scheduled at a university art gallery in Nashville late 2013 or 2014. As far as the direction of the work, I have no idea. I trust my process, but I still have a sense of relief whenever a painting finally takes hold.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

1) I feel fortunate to have met many of the artists and painters whose work I respect.
2) If I had the time I’d write a love letter to Los Angeles. The painting community in LA is strong and supportive, and had a great deal of influence on me.
3) Thank you for inviting me to participate.

And Then DeKooning Said to Guston
2012, oil on linen, 7 x 5"



  1. "I worry that I've become a boring painter and even worse, I secretly relish this." hmm, I know about this.

    I loved hearing you speak MAH. It's interesting how your voice came through in a different way in this interview than it does in your blog. The interview gives an added dimension. Thanks for that Valerie!

    Nice nice heartfull paintings, not boring, heart full.