Tag Archives: Egon Schiele

Interview with an Artist – Nancy Jaffee

Nancy Jaffee, Weston CT

Abstract in blue and brownWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I didn’t really
know I had any artistic talents until I was an adult. But my mother
was artistic. She worked as a clothing designer and a decorator and I always appreciated the way she put colors together in her work. My sister used me as a guinea pig in grad school for her PHD in Psychology. And after taking all her tests, she said I should pursue a career in the arts but I never really did anything about it.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I started taking formal art classes and realized this was truly something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Some visual artists describe crossing a threshold where they see new colors, shapes, forms, shadows and movement. Did younude looking up experience this kind of artistic “awakening?” It happen at The Rye Arts Center. When the teacher was explaining how to convert three dimensional space onto a two dimensional page she taught us about foreshortening, cast shadows, reflected light, modeling…volume. It was eye-opening for me
because it all worked. It was like unlocking a door and learning how to
see.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. My first sale was to my neighbor. It was a sketch from a life drawing
class. Just a quick one minute pose. But she liked it, had it framed
and hung it in her living room. She had a lot of beautiful art that she
collected, so I felt honored to have my little throw away amongst her
really nice paintings. I think I charged her $20 for the sketch.

Who are your favorite artists? My favorite artists… long list… but
I would start with Michelangelo… I was lucky enough to travel to Europe several times as a child and was exposed to some of the most beautiful masterpieces of
the world. But the David really blew me away. I love Whistler, JS Sargent, Cezanne, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso (especially his blue period), Egon Schiele, Munch (the Storm is my favorite), Clyfford StillMilton Avery, Jim Dine… too many to mention.

Do you “see” your paintings before you create it or is it a
work-in-progress? I often start out with an idea for a nude or
something representational. But the abstract pieces are more works in
progress. I usually try to start with a palette and work from there.

When a painting takes on a mood….say a dark one. Do you feel likeescape
you need to exist in that mood to continue with the painting? When I’m focused on painting, I want to create something evocative and
interesting and I’m just trying to do that. What’s so cathartic about
painting is that it takes you out of your own head while you’re doing
it. It can also give you an outlet to express what’s inside you. I
think the emotions come first and then the painting.

I think my outlook is naturally somewhat dark. I see people as alone,
my figures are always alone, they sometimes seem isolated. I think a
heavily clouded sky is more interesting and than a bright blue clear
one. My least favorite paintings are “Spring” and “Painted Flowers” in
terms of their content and color. I was experimenting more with
technique on those, using a calligraphy pen in the first and a palette
knife in the latter.

You mentioned that you like Picasso…specifically his blue period.Picasso
Some feel that his blue period was a reflection of depression, while others say blue paint was cheaper and he couldn’t afford other colors at that time. What do you think? I like his blue period because it seems more compassionate than his later work. Like the famous painting of the woman with the iron. She’s exhausted, endlessly working,  overwrought, poor. She’s not glib or superficial. Looking at her evokes powerful emotions. The painting has soul.

In general though, if you ask most people what their favorite color is,Rockbottom
they say blue. Blue is rich and soothing. It can also be considered
sad as in a blue motel room or a blue mood. But art is in the eye of
the viewer. It’s highly subjective. I think the artist may have one
thing in mind and the viewer something entirely different and both are
equally valid.

male nudeIs there a particular painting of yours that evoked polar views or
moods from a viewer? If so, which one and describe what they “saw.” This is a funny story. A friend of mine on Facebook saw my male nude
who is masturbating in the painting, and thought it was a woman. To be fair, he was looking at it on his phone, so it was only 3″ big. Mainly in my drawings people have experienced the nudes as sad when I just felt they were relaxed, neither happy nor sad. Some people try to understand literally what I’ve painted as in “Escape.” Like what exactly am I depicting? Are there mountains in the foreground? Is that a lake beneath them? Others will just see it as a seascape and not wonder about the realism of the specific shapes. I can’t really think
of any that have evoked polar reactions from different people except
that some will love a piece while others aren’t impressed at all.

I’m also a fan of Sargent. My favorite Sargent piece (El Jaleo) is in
one of my favorite Museums…the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It’s one of those paintings that you have to seeWhistler's Mother
up-close-and-personal.  Do you have a “must see” that you re-visit or moved you when you viewed the original? I was really moved by
Whistler’s “Mother.” When I saw it, I couldn’t stop looking at it. The
mood was so compelling, the gray on gray, the contrast of white on
black, the quiet stillness of the subject almost trancelike.

Sargent’s work is just so elegant and beautiful. One of his paintings that
impressed me the most is in a permanent collection at a museum in
Scotland and it’s titled, “The Lady Agnew”. She is seated and dressed
in white. The skin tones are flawlessly smooth and the eyes seem as
though they are laughing. I also love the painting “Madame X” at the
Metropolitan Museum in NYC.

Favorite museum? Having grown up in NYC, my favorite museums are the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art. It’s always a pleasure to spend an afternoon there rediscovering my favorite masterpieces. I recently discovered the work of Clyfford Still and his work has had an influence on several of
my most recent pieces.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out? Well, since I Nancy Jaffeetoo consider myself an artist just starting out, I can only offer what I say to myself. Try to be the best that you can be.  Compete only with yourself. While there will always be someone out there that you find more talented or more accomplished then you don’t let that discourage you. There is room for all of our artistic expressions. Just enjoy the process and remember that the nature of
creation is creativity itself.

Nancy’s website: http://www.nancyjaffee.com

Paul ShampinePaul Shampine

Creative Crisis – Interview with an Artist, part 6

After reading the most recent post, Kathryn Arnold, blog interviewee forwarded a Newsweek article regarding a significant decline in creativity scoring in the American youth, “Creative Crisis.”  While citing TV, video games and school curriculum as “culprits” for the new disturbing downward trend, my daughter of twelve years  Samantha, brings Inventive Creativityanother possibilityto light.  I’m calling it the MacGyver Factor.  She feels that as we evolve with technology, we’re not forced to use our creativity for problem solving etc.  So, we’re not exercising the right side of our brain as much as we have in the past. We’re our own enemy.  Our creative forefathers have made us right-brain lazy. That said, Isabella, daughter of ten moves in the Skype view and says she’s done with her art class as of Friday for the rest of the year due to a recent curriculum change. Now, creativity runs through these girls veins, including their sister Alexandra (nine) like vermouth in the Kennedy’s.  I’m not worried.  Life’s the classroom.
So, what do you do? Like anything else that’s important to you, you take ownership and manage the process. When you go to the beach, you help build mutant sand creatures.  You play visual games to spot what land features you see in the lakes mirror-like reflection.  And you give an eight year old a camera.  The interviews continue…

Danielle Ezzo, Brooklyn, NY

Patterns in Healing Study1-Danielle EzzoWhen did you first discover your creative talents? Both of my parents were artistic, so from a very young age I was painting, drawing, and taking pictures. I thought I wanted to be a painter as I got a little older, but didn’t know how that could translate into a career. Funny that I was thinking of the ‘practical’ side so young. Because of this, my grade school focuses were more on the sciences, and it wasn’t until applying for college that I decided I was going to go back into art. I guess it’s hard to pin point an exact moment because it was always there to some varying degree.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. Oddly enough, I sold my first piece of artwork when I was a freshman in high school. Our project was surrealist based although I don’t remember the precise assignment. Essentially, I painted a fish bowl in the shape of a cat with detailed aquatic life inside painted with acrylics. It was suggested by my teacher that I submit the work into a community gallery show that was to be exhibited at the town’s local library. After the show came down, another teacher from my school contact me about purchasing the piece. It was definitely very flattering for a fourteen year old!

Who are your favorite artists? Some of my favorites artists are: Sandy Skoglund, Egon Schiele, Rudolph Koppitz, Rene Magritte, Francisco de Goya, and so many others.

Artist: Danielle Ezzo
Title: Patterns in Healing, Study 1
Medium: Cyanotype with gouache and ink, 9×12 inches
Website: http://danielleezzo.com/ Blog: http://dezzoster.tumblr.com/

Greg Orfanos, Bristol, CT

Said the Cicada - Greg OrfanosWhen did you first discover your creative talents? My first recollection of having discovered any creative ability was at age 3. I was sitting on the paisley patterned mustard colored carpet in my decked out 70’s style living room doodling away on a green piece of construction paper. All of a sudden, I noticed that my drawing appeared to look like an exact rendering of the human figure. I quickly got up to show my mother and ran to her incredibly fast as I thought the drawing were going to disappear from the page.  I burst through the bath room door and held up my masterpiece. My mother, while sitting on the toilet, graciously said “Excellent, now please leave and close the door.” My first critique.  Although blunt in its delivery, I modestly accepted. I became a child obsessed. Drawing feverishly, I created these fantastic figures as if magic were pouring from my hands. Over the course of a few days I had an epiphany. If shapes were put together in any sort of way and even manipulated that I could not only draw figures but all kinds of things. My refrigerator started to look like a giant pinata. Covered in multicolored construction paper that was adorned with the most wonderful images the human eye has ever beheld. “Is that a sun over a mountain” my dad would ask. “No, it’s you” I said.  ” I like the train with the bubbles in it” my sister would say. “No, those are the gerbils in the habitrail” I would reply. This went on for some time. Needless to say my ego became bruised and the fridge went back to its original avocado green.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.   As far as selling my work, I don’t enjoy it as much as one might think. I sell out of necessity. There is one particular sale however, that is very memorable. I received a lengthly email from a gentleman describing how much one of my paintings had captivated him. He saw so much of his own life in the subject matter. Memories of missed opportunities that all of a sudden, he felt, had become with in reach to him again. He went on to say that this painting inspired him so much so, that he was going to further his education and pursue his dream. After reading this I was dumbfounded. I wanted to give it to him for nothing but he insisted on paying for it. Never in my life has my art work ever got a response more true and heartfelt as his letter. That in of itself is pretty damn cool. 

Who are your favorite artists? There are a lot of artists that inspire me. Not just the visual ones but literary, musicians and film makers as well. So, to name a few and not in any particular oder: Grosz, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Ensor, Saint Saens, Winsor McCay, Roald Dahl, Bud Powell, Burl Ives, Link Wray, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Lisbeth Zwerger, Arnold Lobel, Brian O’Nolan, Thomas Hart Benton, Henry James, Sparkle Horse, Daniel Johnston, David Lynch, Eric Dolphy, Earl Bostic, Harrison Cady, Edward Gorey, Kenneth Grahame, Ezra Jack Keats, Judi Muscara-Orfanos, Hiedi Dentremont, David Ferreira, Deborah G. Rogers, Jennifer Richter, Kathleen Lolley, Heather Adels, Jill Herick Lee, Dave Brubeck, Wes Anderson, Richard Kelley, Spike Jonze, Richard Flynn and the list goes on.

Artist: Greg Orfanos
Title: Said The Cicada
Medium: Mixed, 36×24 inches
Website: http://www.gregorfanos.com

Amy Guidry, Lafayette, LA
The Wild West-Amy Guidry
When did you first discover your creative talents? Apparently my talents were not discovered until my kindergarten teacher called my mother to let her know I could draw really well.  My mother thought I drew like any other child.  I was the oldest of two, so there was no one else to compare my work to.  As far as I was concerned, I just knew that drawing and painting were fun.  I mass-produced artwork to the point that my mother had to throw out a lot of it.  I plowed through entire packages of- what we called back then- “typing paper.”  I was always hoping to get my hands on more advanced (i.e. messy and destructive) art supplies.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. This is actually a tough question.  I sold some work when I was a kid, so I don’t think I completely understood what that meant.  It wasn’t as significant to me as it is now.  So I will have to say that one of my most memorable sales was one of my larger works and it was actually purchased sight-unseen.  The collector saw it on my website and emailed me about the piece.  I was not expecting it to sell that easily, but he said he wanted it and so I had it shipped immediately.
Who are your favorite artists? I love an eclectic mix of artists- I just appreciate good art in general, no matter the style.  That said, if I had to name some favorites I would have to say James Ensor, Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Wangechi Mutu, Odd Nerdrum, and Kiki Smith.  I’m trying to keep the list small…  I admire a lot of artists, but I guess at the top of my list, those would include the ones whose work is surreal in some manner.
Artist: Amy Guidry
Title: The Wild West
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, 24×30 inches
Website: http://amyguidry.com/