Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cecilia Welden: San Francisco—Artist Interview

Artist Cecilia Welden

A little bit about Cecila:

I grew up in the California Bay Area suburbs. I consider myself really lucky to have been raised in close proximity to wide open spaces and had parents that encouraged tree-climbing, hiking in open spaces and that sort of thing. Although my art is not about the physical landscape it is about internal landscapes. That freedom to roam and observe has shaped who am as a person today. I have been living in San Francisco for the past 15 years.

Did you receive any formal art training?

Cecilia: My formal art training is from San Francisco State University, I actually majored in printmaking but took as many units in painting as I did in printmaking. I haven’t really kept-up on my printmaking skills though. At this point in my life I prefer the immediacy of painting, the lusciousness of paint and the tactile qualities of encaustic. 

Catalyst 24 x 24"

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?

Cecilia:  There’s a saying that as children we all start out artists and then when we grow up we stop being artists. I’ve always been interested in art and it has always been a part of my life. It wasn’t until I chose

 to go back to school for a non-art degree that I realized I couldn’t live without making art. The “withdraw” I felt from not being able to make art was a major revelation to me. This was an unintended valuable lesson from school I guess. It took that process to make me truly appreciate my life as an artist though.

What is your media? 

Cecilia: I work primarily in wax encaustic, using layers of oil paint and then transparent layers of wax with pigment fused in. I’ve also been experimenting with natural patinas on copper, such as letting soot and atmosphere transform copper plates and then painting with saltwater and vinegar, then letting rainwater and “neglect” inform my next move. I also do oil paints and watercolors as well. I think its important to keep my practice varied. Taking a break from a piece that I’m working on and switching mediums is helpful to me in looking at things in a different light. I feel the variation makes me stronger as an artist.

What is your current work about? 

Cecilia: Lately I’ve been concentrating on luminosity, translucency and bright radiant color. Perhaps it’s the long winter, perhaps it’s the bright new workspace… whatever the case, as of late, I have not been shy with my color palette.

What is your workspace like?

 I’ve recently moved The Hunters Point Shipyard Artist Collective in San Francisco California. I’m thoroughly enjoying the balanced, plentiful, Northern light my studio receives. In the short time I’ve been at my new studio I’ve become completely spoiled and I have no idea how I spent so much time in my previous studio space which relied heavily on artificial light. I’m also sharing my workspace with a friend from art school. Its nice to have that camaraderie again. 

Metamorphosis: work in progress

Do you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

Cecilia: I was pretty isolated in my previous studio and I felt most connected as an artist attending various workshops as well as the International Encaustic Artists retreats. But now, at my studio, being a part of this large art community, I’m surrounded by other people who feel the same way about art as I do and it has been very inspiring, energizing and uplifting to see this collective work ethic.

Radiate: 36" x 18"

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

Cecilia: The move to the new studio and artists collective is a new chapter for me in my life as an artist and I can honestly say that this sense of community is a new and unfolding thing. But in the past, I’ve been supportive of my art colleagues by attending their shows, rooting them on and referring their names whenever I can.

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

Cecilia: One thing that really helps me is not forcing myself to reach conclusions unless they feel right. My favorite works have not always been easy to create but they always came from open place where I felt free to make mistakes. Putting aside expectations is also key.

Some great advice I heard from a fellow artist was that if I ever got stuck on a piece of artwork was to cover over your favorite part of the painting (block it out with your hand or something) and just look at the parts that aren’t working. I look at the piece more objectively when I’m not “comparing” it to other parts.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice? 

It’s important that an artist see the big picture. Finding some quiet time to objectively observe, either by yoga or nice long walk are ways I find some solitude. 

Copper work in progress

Do you have other jobs other than making art?

Cecilia:  Yes, currently I work in the fine art services. This job has given me a great opportunity to handle, install and take care of some brilliant works of art. I’m inspired and challenged everyday. 

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Cecilia:  Definitely working in the studio everyday (unless I’m on vacation which is just fuel for art-making anyway). But I’d like to be able to commit more time to it.

You can see more of her work at



Jhina Alvarado said...

I love Cecilia as an artist and her work is beautiful. She is truly a supportive colleague, friend, and all around great person. Nice interview!

LynetteH said...

Thanks Jhina for the suggestion and for your lovely comments!

John Briner Art said...

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