Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nancy Natale Artist Interview: Easthampton MA


Lynette Haggard's Art Blog Weekly Artist Interview



Nancy Natale in her studio


Running Stitch, 2010 24”h x 66”w
Encaustic, book parts, found metal,
patinated metal, rubber, tacks, cardboard


Lynette (LH): Where do you live now and where do you make your art?

Nancy:
I live in Easthampton in western Massachusetts (the forgotten side of the state). I’ve been living in western Mass. for 10 years. Easthampton was once a mill town and so there are a few old mill buildings around that are now studios and workspaces. My studio is in Eastworks, a building that once was home to Stanley Home Products.





Cauldron, mid 1990s

approximately 18”h x 12”w
Found metal car part with caulk, tulle, 
dried flowers, foam rubber, tacks, thread, shells, key


LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were the early influences on your work?

Nancy: I grew up in the Roxbury and Jamaica Plain sections of Boston. Later in life I lived in downtown Boston and Somerville, Mass. I was not interested in art and never took any art classes in high school because I majored in business. I was more interested in literature than art—especially fiction. In fact, I have a B.A. in English Literature. However, as I think about my current work, I can see that two early influences were sewing, that I learned from both my mother and father, and auto mechanics, that I learned from my father.


Tingshas, mid 1990s
18"w x 14"h
foam rubber, tacks, netting, dried flowers, found painted metal, shells, key, string





Tale of Shadows, 2009
21”h x 12”w
encaustic, rubber, tacks, oilstick on 2 joined panels





LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in art?

Nancy:  
I was a very late art bloomer. I had always been interested in crafty kinds of things but didn’t begin painting until I was in my mid-30s. It sort of came on me suddenly, and I had to go buy some paint and canvas boards and just try to capture the color I saw in the winter landscape. I knew nothing about it but was driven to do it. (It was sort of like Richard Dreyfus building a model of the mountain in his living room in Encounters of the Third Kind.)

I took it very slowly by first taking an adult ed course at the local high school, then a couple of evening courses at DeCordova Museum School, then a couple of courses at Mass. College of Art. Ultimately I put together a portfolio with the help of an artist friend and was accepted as a full-time B.F.A. student at Mass. College of Art (MassArt) at the age of 40. I majored in painting. 


Black Sun, 2009
24”h x 12”w encaustic, rubber, tacks, washers, oilstick, paintskin on panel



LH:  Was there a certain point in your life when you decided you were
primarily an artist?

Nancy:
I guess that would be when I applied to and was accepted at MassArt. At the time I was divorced from my second husband (after having just switched teams) and living and working in the suburbs of Boston. I quit my job, sold my house and moved into the city so I would be closer to school. From then on, I considered myself primarily an artist although I never stopped working in business for income.




Vertical 2, 2010
52”h x 16”w
encaustic, patinated copper, tacks, beads,
rubber, dried plant parts, oilstick, dirt


LH:  Can you describe a bit about your work in general?

Nancy:
Coming into my own has been a long process. I really loved oil painting as soon as I tried it. That smell is an aphrodisiac for me. I went through all the genres until I got to geometric abstraction, but I was still not satisfied with my work. By the way, when I was at MassArt, in addition to painting, I became very interested in surface design on fabric, especially dyeing. I was also attracted to 3-D work such as ceramics and sculpture. There just wasn’t time enough for everything because I was so late out of the starting gate.

In the mid-90s I began making work that was more about construction than paint. I combined various materials on wooden supports and used a lot of tacks and black caulk. This is the work that I relate directly to what I’m doing now. Unfortunately, this work was not well received by anyone who was showing or buying art. To make some income, I began making acrylic paintings on ricepaper that sold very well through art consultants. In retrospect, making this corporate-art-consultant stuff was a bad move in terms of the development of my work. Having the corporate art market dry up has really benefitted me because I am not diverted from my path by creating something that is not satisfying to me just to make money.






Rochelle, 2005
30”x24”
Acrylic on ricepaper with collage




LH: What is your media?

Nancy: Seven or eight years ago I became interested in encaustic and took a 3-day course at R&F Paints. It has taken me this long to finally figure out how to use encaustic in a way that lets me integrate it into my personal expression. I combine encaustic with other materials to create semi-relief works on wood. Some of the other materials I incorporate in the work are old books, rubber, tacks, treated metal, cardboard, fabric, crocheted elements, beads, roots, fibers, paper, etc.





Red Running Stitch, 2010

24”hx42”w
encaustic, book parts, found metal,
patinated metal, rubber, tacks, cardboard, matboard


LH: What is your current work about?
Nancy: For a long time my work was not about anything that I considered in a direct way other than maybe the formal ordering of elements, color, shape, etc. However, when my elderly mother started losing her memory a few years ago, I became very interested in the process of memory—how it shapes us as individuals, how we accumulate memories and how we lose them. Of course this touches on the passage of time and how things deteriorate. So my work is about the building up of elements in a process of accretion and the wearing away of things as time passes.





Bandito, 2010

24”x24”
encaustic, book parts, found metal, patinated metal,
rubber, tacks, cardboard
LH: Describe how you work in your studio.
How do you get “in a groove” ?

 
Nancy: Over the past couple of years (and after taking a wonderful course with Miles Conrad on Moving the Work Forward), I have started being a lot more organized about my work. I keep a notebook to jot down drawings and ideas that I have until something jells for me and I come up with an idea for a series. Then it’s a matter of working out how to make a few pieces in the series – developing my plan of attack for the look of the work and its construction. If I work like this, I am pretty much in a groove all the time.

When I’m trying to come up with ideas, I look at a lot of things and tear things out of newspapers and magazines. I also research online and try to figure out what appeals to me about certain things. They may be works of art or scenery or jewelry or clothing or whatever. When something sparks my interest, I think about how I could carry that out in my work and if there would be any meaning in it for me beyond the visual.


LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?

 
Nancy: The current series that I’m working on (Running Stitch) is a perfect example of how I avoid getting stuck. There is a lot of preparation of materials, preparation of panels, assemblage of elements and finally painting. I love doing work like this because I can just walk into the studio and pitch in to a task. There is never any question about what to do. This is what makes me eager to get in there and work – when I don’t have to cast around for what’s next.

I do admit that when I feel really stuck, I avoid going to the studio. Suddenly staying home and reading a book sounds like a great idea. However, I know from experience that just going to the studio, fiddling with this and that, looking through my collection of magazine tearouts and my notebook of ideas is sure to get me going on something. Even if I just clean up some of my messes, I seem to clarify my thoughts and gear myself up for new work.



One view inside Natale's Studio

LH: What are you reading right now?

Nancy: I always have several books and magazines going at once. Currently I’m reading Leo and His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli by Annie Cohen-Solal and also Spook by Mary Roach. Next on the list is Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why by Ellen Dissanayake.




LH:  Do you have particular habits that support your art practice?

Nancy:
I have my blog, Art in the Studio, that I think really helps me focus on looking at and analyzing art. Also, I read several blogs regularly and see what other people are doing, seeing and saying. Having a blog gives me more of a connection to other people outside of my own mini area.




LH: Do you have other jobs than making art?
Nancy:
I do bookkeeping part time. Currently I have six part-time bookkeeping jobs (no exaggeration). I work two of the jobs at clients' offices (one full day and two half days) and the others at home, except for one that's just a few hours every couple of months at the client's office. In the afternoons of the two half days that I work, I visit my mother in the nursing home, making three full days outside the studio. That gives me three days a week in the studio and Sundays to lounge around and read the NY Times. 



LH: What is your workspace like?

Nancy: I am lucky enough to have a truly fabulous studio that is less than a mile from my house, but the rent has increased so much that I have to work all those jobs to pay for it.



Another view inside her studio
LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?

Nancy: I would like to be making work that I enjoy and that challenges me and be showing regularly. Now that I finally get the sense that my work has come together and I have a cohesive body of work, I intend to pursue gallery representation. In five years I would like to have more than one gallery and be able to sell enough work that I could cut back on the part-time jobs – maybe three instead of six — ; )


My website: http://nancynatale.net
 
My blog: http://artinthestudio.blogspot.com

THANK YOU NANCY!!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Howard Hersh: Artist Interview — San Francisco

    NOTE TO READERS/FANS OF HOWARD HERSH
    Apologies —there was a glitch last week in the comments area,
    feel free to comment away now!

    -LH
    Lynette Haggard's Art Blog Weekly Artist Interview



    Lynette Haggard (LH): where do you live and work?
    Howard:
    I live on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, CA. My studio is at the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco.
    LH: Did you receive any formal art training?
    Howard: 1 year of college as an art major. Fullerton, CA


    LH: What is your media?
    Howard: Encaustic since 1987, interspersed with periods of oils.
    Passing Through 
    Encaustic on panel 40 x 72"
    2010

    LH:
    Can you describe a bit about your work in general?
    Howard: My work has a very philosophical underpinning. Most of my artist statements go into relationships between things. Real/imagined, natural/manmade, etc. My premise is that there is no separation and that everything is nature itself. I try to communicate this in my work by combining disparate elements and then allowing them to integrate.
    However philosophical I might be, my paintings are made to be observed and felt. Titles can be a glimpse into the artists’ mind, but I’m happy to let people discover what they will.


    I’ve always worked in a serial fashion. I’ll pursue a theme until it gradually morphs into something else. My work also has a modular feature. Combining panels to form a larger piece, sometimes irregularly shaped.

    I generally work on one piece at a time. However, I will set a painting aside and start another if I’m really stumped. An art teacher once told me that “painting is fixing mistakes”. He also suggested that if you are stumped, to blot out your favorite area of the painting. His idea is that the one favorite area, while good in itself, is holding back the resolution of the entire piece. I have used this idea successfully.

    LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
    Howard: Regarding my studio work, I have a saying…”just show up”. I take weekends off, but come to the studio all other days. I find that being in the studio is just as important as picking up the brush. My style is a slow but steady one. Paintings flow from one to the next as a continuous thread. Growing by doing. In fact, an art teacher once told me to just finish 100 paintings and I would surely improve. I’m a person who values freedom and independence. I think creativity depends on those conditions. So, when you have the two, it’s a good combination.

    LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
    Howard: Starting from very young, I loved working with my hands. Either drawing or making things, that was my passion.

    There is also the issue of genes. On my father’s side, there is a strong artistic tradition. My grandfather raised himself from 12 years old to graduating from the Chicago Art Institute. Unfortunately, he was forced to give up his art to support his family and died very young.

    So, art became the logical choice in my life, but I never believed it could be a career. For one thing, I was on the west coast in the 60’s, not thinking about careers. Instead, I was attracted to the back to the land movement. While developing skills living in the country, I also made jewelry. Nature was and is a very strong influence in my life. A great teacher as well as a muse.

    Ultimately, in my mid 30’s, I struck out to “become an artist”. I moved to Santa Fe, which was full of young artists, doing what I was doing. It was a wonderful time to grow as an artist because not only were we young, but the economy was strong. I discovered and dove into encaustic in 1987. I also did a lot of monotyping in those days.

    Installation in Houston
    LH: Can you mention any artists who influenced you?
    Howard: My most significant influences early on, was art that was currently being made. Work that I personally liked to linger over and admire. Polke, Richter, Twombley, and Kiefer are in a permanent like column. Others, like Bleckner, Schnabel, and Winters I liked a lot when I was getting started. Nowadays, there is more art than ever to look at. I find now, that I get the most enjoyment from looking at photographs, especially painterly ones like the Starn twins.

    LH: What is your workspace like?
    Howard: Work space is very important and I’ve been fortunate in this regard as well. I’ve had five studios over my 25 years as a working artist. Among them was one that I built. A 1200 s.f. passive solar studio in New Mexico. Currently I have a studio at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyards in San Francisco. It’s a decommissioned base that now houses 250 artists, the largest artist colony in the country.

    |
    Hersh at work in his studio, pouring wax


    LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
    Howard: I approach each painting with a vision of what I'd like it to be. Of course, they almost always turn out differently. Sometimes better than imagined, sometimes disappointing. Those are the paintings that take longer and are more of a struggle. Art making for me is muti-dimensional, drawing from creative inspiration, craftsmanship, and problem solving. Communicating in a silent way, paintings must nevertheless, still communicate. This is the challenge every artist faces.

    LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work?
    Howard: My website, http://www.howardhersh.com, has over 10 years of work archived. In addition, there are reviews, artist statements, and a printable resume. I also have a facebook page.

    LH: What are you reading right now?
    Howard: Anything by Edward Abbey, a longtime favorite author of mine. His love of nature, particularily the desert southwest, his biting humor, his fierce spirit of non-conformity and independence are wonderfully inspiring to me.

    LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
    Howard: A full time studio artist since 1985

    LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?

    Howard: Some paintings flow really easily and some don't. The ones that don't, just take more time.

    LH: Where would you like to be with your work in 5 years? 

    Howard: Taking one day at a time and remembering to smell the roses is my plan. Nowadays, this seems more prudent than ever.

    LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
    Howard: The next show that I’m working towards is at Gallery One in Nashville, TN.
    Thank you Howard!

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Ian MacLeod: Artist Interview — British Columbia

    Lynette Haggard's Art Blog Weekly Artist Interview


    Ian MacLeod

    Lynette Haggard (LH): Where do you live now and where do you make your art?
    Ian: I live on The Sunshine Coast in British Columbia — a 40 minute ferry ride from Vancouver and then another 40 drive up the coast to Halfmoon Bay.


    Sargent's Bay

    LH: Did you receive any formal art training?

    Ian: I studied fine arts at the University of Manitoba and graphic design at Red River College in Winnipeg.



    LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist? At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
    Ian: I wanted to be an artist in elementary school. I felt closer to becoming an artist in high school because of the encouragement I was afforded. I worked towards becoming an artist at University where I studied fine arts. I knew it at my core as student of graphic design, but I drifted away from it as I began working as a graphic designer, illustrator and art director.

    LH: What is your media?(Please describe briefly)
    Ian: Acrylic and materials such as recycled paper, cardboard, plastic drop sheets and plastic bags applied directly to the surface of the canvas.



    Composition #195

     48"x72" 
    Acrylic, paper, plastic and varathane on canvas






    LH: Please describe bit about your work in general.
    Ian: My non-representational paintings exist independently of visual references. They provide the viewer with a sense of peace and energy - evocative without objective imagery. In other words they are not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature.




    Composition #208
    30"x40" 
    Acrylic, paper, plastic and varathane on canvas

    LH:  Do you ever get stuck with your work, and how do you remedy this?
    Ian: I don't feel like I stuck although I can slip into slumps that, if it not for an artistic outlet I could succumb to depression. So, I go for a hike, listen to music or go into Vancouver for the day. Or just paint - I find that (for me) my painting is a spiritual journey or quest that it is both uplifting and meditative.


    LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
    Ian: Get up early, let the dog out, make coffee, come down to the studio and see what happened to a painting over night. Then... (see question above…)



    Composition #209
    30"x40"
    acrylic, paper, plastic and varathane on canvas


    LH: What is your current work about? Do you have photos you're willing to share?
    Ian: For me it’s about the materials, the paint. Some viewers have expressed it’s about nature and landscape.

    LH: Can you share with my readers a little about yourself? Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work? 
    Ian: I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I was about 7 years old when my parents told me I was adopted. They were both much older than any of my friends parents and of course I didn't look like either of them. I have always felt different, apart, separate and alone. (though I know that not to be true).

    My mother was a huge influence, she was very supportive and encouraging - enrolling me in all kinds of art related classes at an early age. She went to my highschool and demanded they put me in art rather than metal shops or drafting and they complied by sending me to another school where I met ny grade 11 and 12 art teacher Leonard Stone who showed me how important art and all forms of creative thinking were and are, it was a turning point in my life. My wife (we met in high school at age 16).


    Frank Mayrs, a mentor and friend who stressed the sense that I should create for myself, not to please others. 


    LH: Who are some artists who influence you?
    Ian: I love these artists - their innovation and their dedication and the spiritual essence that is their work. Pollock, de Kooning, Franz Kline, Motherwell, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Twombly, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jack Bush, Ellsworth Kelly, Adolph Gottlieb, Milton Avery, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnet Newman, Harold Town, Gathie Falk, Gordon Smith, Michael Snow, Marilyn Kirsch, Charles Arnoldi, Ronnie Landfield, Brice Marden and the list goes on...

    LH: What is your workspace like?
    Ian: My studio is in the basement of our home. (Photos below showing a new painting in progress on the floor)











    LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
    Ian: My paintings are made up of many layers and can take several days and/or weeks to complete. I work in brief time periods applying paint and other materials to the canvas surface, and longer periods of time watching the puddles of liquid move around and find their own resting place. This quote from Nick Cave describes how I get in a groove and what inspires me...
    "An artist's duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic epiphany."

    LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work? Any gallery representation/links where readers can see your work?

    http://ianmacleodpaintings.blogspot.com
    http://www.ianmacleodpaintings.ca
    http://www.westwindgallery.net/macleod.html


    LH:  What are you reading right now?
    Ian: Six String Nation by Jowi Taylor and re-reading The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier.

    LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
    Ian: I’ve retired from the world of design and advertising.

    LH: If so, please give us some details.
    Ian: I worked as an illustrator, graphic designer, exhibit designer and art director in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Vancouver before moving to the Halfmoon Bay 9 years ago where I paint full time.

    LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
    Ian: Satisified, productive, further along.

    LH:  Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
    Ian: Just finished a couple - nothing on the agenda (yet).

    Thank you, Ian!


    IAN MACLEOD PAINTINGS

    http://ianmacleodpaintings.blogspot.com
    http://www.ianmacleodpaintings.ca
    macleodpaintings@dccnet.com
    604-885-9573

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Jhina Alvarado: San Francisco Artist—Interview

    Lynette Haggard's Art Blog Weekly Interview

    Lynette Haggard (LH): Jhina, where do you live now and where do you make your art?
    Jhina: I live and paint in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA.


    LH: Did you receive any formal art training?
    Jhina: No. I have a bachelors degree in Liberal Studies and a masters degree in math education.


    "Forgotten Memories" by Jhina Alvarado, Artist from Ben Morse on Vimeo.


    Perfect Kiss
    16" x 16"
    oil and encaustic wax

    LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist? At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
    Jhina: The beginning of 2009 I started my "Forgotten Memories" series and started to feel like I finally found my groove as an artist. I had a ton of motivation and inspiration. It was then that I considered my self an artist first and a math teacher second for the first time ever. A year and a half later, I quit my teaching job and now I am a full-time artist. I was always interested in art, even at a really young age. I remember my kindergarten teacher calling in my parents because I sculpted a realistic looking dinosaur and the teacher was amazed at my skill.

     Alvarado working


    LH: What is your media?
    Jhina: I paint images of people using old photographs as references, using only white and raw umber oil paint. I then cover the painting in encaustic medium to add a blurred, antique look.

    Photo Album
    30" x 30"
    oil and encaustic wax
     LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general.
    Jhina: I became fascinated by old, black and white photographs and felt sad thinking about how people would throw away or sell their family's memories, thereby making them "forgotten". I wanted to resurrect these memories and give these images new life. I cover the eyes so that the image/ memory is universal and can be anyone's memory. I include a lot of white space so that the viewer can focus on the memory, not the surroundings.

    Rooftop Bather
    16" x 16"
    oil and encaustic wax

    LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
    Jhina: I do. I look at art that inspires me, visit galleries or museums, and "shop" for new images to paint at local thrift stores and flea markets.

    LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
    Jhina: I think of painting as my job.I have a regular painting schedule. I go in Monday through Friday from noon until 5:30. Structure and schedules help me a lot so that I don't get distracted and unproductive.

    The Pretty Friend
    12" x 12"
    oil and encaustic wax
    LH: Can you share with my readers a little about yourself? Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?
    Jhina: I grew up in So. California but have been living in San Francisco for the past 18 years. My grandfather was a big influence. He was a a craftsman and a genius at making anything he saw out of wood. Him and my grandmother were very encouraging about my art. Now my biggest support and cheerleader is my fiance, Ben. We are getting married this September.


    Young Bride
    30" x 24"
    oil and encaustic wax

    LH: What is your workspace like?
    Jhina: I work in a "cubicle" at a large warehouse space known as Art Explosion Studios. It's an open area with dividers that many local artists work at. Being around so much creativity is great. I was isolated before when I had a home studio and would much rather have inspiration and feedback readily available if I need it.







    LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
    Jhina: I always play music when I paint. It helps me get in the mood to paint. I don't really have any rituals or habits other than that. I play my music and just start painting. Next thing I know, it's 5 hours later and time to go home.


    LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work? Any gallery representation/links where readers can see your work in person?
    Jhina: Currently I am represented by Artzone 461 Gallery in SF  and Blue Gallery in Kansas City, MO. I also show at Gallery U in Montclair, NJ and the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, UT. My website is www.jhinaalvarado.com and my blog is www.risingartist.blogspot.com



    LH: What are you reading right now?
    Jhina: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, the author of the Time Traveler's Wife

    LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
    Jhina: I tutor 3 high school kids in Geometry, Chemistry, and Pre-Calculus. I like to keep my brain challenged and I really enjoy the subjects.

    LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
    Jhina: I would like to have at least 5 galleries representing me, in all parts of the US. I would like to be able to make a good living off of my art and be able to support myself doing it. In 5 years I hope to be an even better artist, with more refined skills and constant inspiration that keeps my work moving forward.

    LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
    Jhina: I have a group show at Artzone 461 Gallery in September, a show at Blue Gallery, and my work will be at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC with the Julie Nester Gallery.

    Thank you, Jhina!

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Help Me Out Here... Whaddya Want to Know?


    Is there something you wish I'd ask the artists during their interview, but haven't seen it yet?
    Do you have a suggestion or idea of something I can include in the questions I ask artists?

    I'm getting a little tired of the set of questions and think I will mix it up soon.
    LET ME KNOW! YOU!! WHAT SHOULD I ASK THE INTERVIEWEES?



    As always, thanks for following.