After art school you worked as a lawyer, a preschool teacher and started a family before opening your studio. How has your practice and your work progressed since you opened your studio?
Having a dedicated studio space with good light changed everything for me. I had been working at my dining room table amongst piles of mail, to-do lists, and other mundane distractions. It was difficult for me to prioritize my work above the needs of the family. Once I took the leap to have a studio space outside the home, I committed internally to my practice as well. I quickly get in the zone when surrounded by my work and art materials.
Do you have any advice for others hoping to return to or re-prioritize their art practice?
For me, committing to a studio space was key to prioritizing my art practice. In my studio, I spent many messy days experimenting with different media while developing my voice and intention. I put in the hours even on days without a plan. Eventually, things clicked because I gave myself the time and space to explore.
Now that I have a busy art practice, I work to keep it going in a healthy direction. I continually remind myself not to worry about others’ opinions or posting on social media. I occasionally do have to pay attention to these things, but my main focus is on being true to my voice and the intention behind my work, whether or not anyone else understands. This can be incredibly hard so I try to be patient and gentle with myself. At the end of the day, I am so happy and fulfilled because I am learning and growing daily.
Are there any artists (past or contemporary) who inspire you?
I’ve loved the work of Seonna Hong and Jae Ko for many years. I’m in awe of the beauty they create.
Through Instagram, I’ve discovered so many fabulous artists. Currently, I’m loving Gillian Theobald's cardboard collages; also, Taylor White has amazing fresh work and he always makes me laugh.
Your white on white pieces are so simple yet so engaging. What inspired you to work monochromatically?
It really was a full circle. My background was in drawing and printmaking—all black and white. For months after I opened my studio, I spent all my time studying color theory. It was incredibly frustrating for me. Eventually, I simplified and worked with a single hue—as in the piece entitled Nostalgia. After viewing a few of my simplified pieces, a close friend of mine suggested trying white paint on white paper, but at that time I was still focused on understanding color. Eventually, I did make a small white-on-white mock-up, and it felt like everything clicked into place. Rather than focusing on color, I could focus on the paint’s physical characteristics and manipulating the paint into sculpture. Each drip of paint is connected to and supports the drips surrounding it—which is directly related to my life experience of moving and searching for those connections and support.
What is your process with these acrylic works?
Through much trial and error, I came upon the process that worked best for me. I drip a mix of acrylic paint and pouring medium onto a glass surface and let the drips dry into “acrylic skins.” I peel off the dried acrylic skins and adhere them to fine paper. Chaos and order are inherent in this process—it reflects life, where you take what life throws at you and try to make some kind of order out of it.
Where do you hope to take your work in the future?
I have so many ideas! I’d love to continue to play with the acrylic paint—I’ve recently started making “ruffles” out of large acrylic skins and I love the organic interaction, texture and shadow play in those pieces.
I’d also like to use found and collected objects. I’ve always been a collector; I have vast collections of used security envelopes, accordion packing material, wood scraps, and fruit net bags, amongst other items. My brother once told me, “I'm against making more things to clutter the world” in the context of making art without intention, but I am applying that ideology further—let’s take what’s already out there and transform it.
by Bussie Parker Kehoe
- Acrylic on paper floated in white frame.
- 20 inches x 16 inches
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