Tag Archives: Michelangelo

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

Interview with an Artist…part 1

Over the next few weeks, you’ll find internationally diverse artist interviews revealing thoughts on their personal creative discoveries, their intimate and memorable “red dot” stories and their exclusive artist guest list.

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Enjoy ~ Paul

Katrin Jurati, Los Angeles, CA
When did you first discover your creative talents? I remember very distinctly, in first grade, the teacher speaking to someone else about me, as I had the revelation, drawing my bird Hansi in his cage (that the rungs of the cage had to be drawn first, with the bird behind so he appeared within it) while hearing “she’s the best artist in the class.”  I was shocked.  That was the first moment I identified myself as artist.

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. I hate to say I forgot which piece I sold first.  In Buffalo, I sold out 3 years worth of work, so it’s a bit of a blur.  The connection to each collector, of seeing their collection in their home, was amazing.  Unfortunately, out of that work, I remember the piece that I didn’t sell most, a heavy metal sculpture.  Instead of excepting $3000 I wanted $4000 and ended up putting it in storage and then lugging it to California to collect dust downstairs in the garage.  Probably my favorite sale was at the Anderson Gallery.  The collectors wanted it delivered to South Carolina, and invited me down for a week at the beach.  Precious memory.

Who are your favorite artists? My parents had a Picasso drawing book of nudes you can be sure I studied for years.  He’s still my favorite, loved the museum in Paris.  As a child Vasarely made a great impact on my first Museum visit, later punk, with all it’s emotive expression.  Cave Painting, Indian painting on buckskin, El Greco, Gericault, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kahlo, Ana Mendieta, Baldessari, Godard, Agnes Varde, Louise Bourgeois, Rothko, Sautin, Goya, William Blake, Henry Darger, Raymond Pettibon, Monet, Eva Hess, Paul Klee, Philip Guston, and Lily Van Der Stokker easily begin the list.  Lately, I’ve been into Vera, the designer.

Artist: Katrin Jurati
Title: Grit in the girl/Puts punk in the pearl
Medium: Ink on silk – each piece (4 total) is 56″ x 6″ inches
Website: http://katrinjurati.com

Kristine Harper,  Copenhagen, Denmark
When did you first discover your creative talents?
It is hard to say exactly when I first discovered my creative talents – but I seriously started experimenting with and investigating my creativity when I was studying art. I have always been fascinated by color; I love how one, with color, can capture emotions and shape mental or physical landscapes.

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. Selling art is kind of strange – my paintings are reflections of my thoughts, and thereby very personal. There are always paintings I am more attached to than others, and they are the hardest ones to let go.

Who are your favorite artists? I am very fond of legends in abstract expressionism like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, but also Gerhard Richter and Danish artist Per Kirkeby inspire me.

Artist: Kristine Harper
Title: New beginnings
Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas, 100 x 100 cm/ 39.4 x 39.4 inches
Website: http://kristineharper.sat0ri.com/

Kara Joslyn, Oakland, CA

When did you first discover your creative talents? I think it was before I can remember. My mom tells me that I was drawing and arranging trinkets/objects ever since she can remember. I think I realized I was an artist in second grade, though. The class drew portraits of a different student every week and then the student acting as muse would pick her or his favorite drawing to put up in class until the next round. One week we drew our teacher, Ms. Nielsen. My drawing wasn’t picked, and I couldn’t fathom why – it was my masterpiece – so I asked her why I hadn’t been selected. She told me it was because the drawing was inappropriate. I was confused. I pressed her – why did she think so? She pointed to the bust area of my rendered portrait – then I realized… I was the only student who had given her breasts (denoted by one W-shaped line). I felt it was completely unfair since I was just being accurate, and tried not to cry – until I got home.

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. I was most excited when I sold a piece to my favorite professor, Linda, and when I sold a dyptich to a Rock Star, Tina from The Bobby Teens.

Who are your favorite artists? David Bowie, Nick Blinko, De Chirico, Kay Sage, Judy Chicago, Vija Celmins, Matisse, klee, Justin Olerud, Travis Wyche, Fritz Lang, Johannes Itten, NagelHunx and his PunxPeter Seville, Ertè, Nellè, Leslie Shows, Laura Owenskandinsky, arthur dove, the ancient greeks, the makers of the venus(es) of villandorf…the list could just continue on.

Artist: Kara Joslyn
Title: Vista Equinox Sunset
Medium: Graphite and acrylic on paper,  22 x 20 inches
Website: http://karajoslyn.com

Sara Joseph, Bangalore, India

When did you first discover your creative talents? When I was 10, my best friend used to sit in class and draw cartoons from newspapers during free hours and I used to see that and wait for her to finish drawing as I wanted to color it. One day she said, “Look , why don’t  you try drawing ?”  I said, “No I can’t draw, I can only color “. But finally, through persistent encouragement I drew Winnie the Pooh from the newspaper. The drawing turned out to be really good, which marked the beginning of art in my life.

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. I had sold my first work to a friend of mine.  But the most memorable experience was when I sold a work  during a fair called ‘Chitra Santhe‘ where thousands of artists come together to sell their works here in Bangalore, India every year. It was in 2009 when this man came to my stall and checked a work of mine when I wasn’t there. He came back the 2nd time and asked my friend if the artist was back and I weren’t. Then he came back the third time looking for me to buy my work from me, but again I wasn’t there and he bought the painting when I wasn’t there. I was feeling really bad that this was the first time someone eagerly wanted to meet me and I wasn’t there all the three times he had come. Then finally in the evening while we had to pack up he came with his family to tell me he loved my work and wanted to meet in person to tell me how much he loved it.  I was overwhelmed by his gesture.

Who are your favorite artists? My works are a combination of abstraction and realism. I use an abstract background and I keep the portraits as real as possible. This is to show that it’s not the society that am interested in but the people and what the common man in India is like. I love to do portraits, as faces carry the emotions, of a person.  And in abstraction I use squares in the background which represent society which I used as I was inspired by Piet Mondrian and his representation of colors and geometric forms. My favorite artist in realism or I would say photorealism is Chuck Close. I love the way he uses faces of people or his self portraits in different styles to portray a skill beyond photorealism. The expressions are very neutral but the massive sizes he works on and his technique is amazing. Others, to name a few, that have inspired me are Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, Monet, Jeff Koons, David Kassan, Amrita Shergill and TV Santosh.

Artist: Sara Joseph
Title: Bounded
Medium: Oil and acrylic on canvas
Website: http://paintedpainter.blogspot.com/