25 posts categorized "Legato"

May 20, 2012

Legato :: Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille

legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Aran Goyoaga of  Cannelle et Vanille
by Jenny Doh

JD :: You have shared that Cannelle et Vanille honors the tastes and smells from your childhood. Tell us about that ... who cooked with cinnamon and vanilla during your childhood? Did you participate in the kitchen?
AG :: My grandparents owned a pastry shop (today it is run by my uncles and cousins) and there was always raw milk on the stove. Many pastries had pastry cream filling and I remember the scent of the cinnamon and vanilla steeping in milk. I did participate in the kitchen as much as I was allowed. I loved it.

JD :: Preparing and presenting food for people to enjoy has become such a creative outlet ... when did you know that preparing and presenting and sharing food would be your creative outlet? What was the dish (or dishes) that helped you experience the feeling of artistry and creativity?
AG :: I think I have always loved it. I can remember being as young as 11 or 12 and making the first salads for my family, always thinking about presentation. I loved to garnish soups too. I cannot pinpoint a particular dish that ignited that feeling of creativity through food, but it was probably desserts since I was surrounded by them everyday.
JD :: Along with the way you prepare food, you have captured the world's imagination in the way you photograph food with your exquisite photography. Tell us about how that happened. When did you first pick up a camera? When did you first start shooting food? When did these two experience really come together for you?
AG :: I actually never paid any attention to photography until I started my blog. I had always taken photos but the camera was a mere tool ...  didn't know how to really use it. I didn't understand light. When I started the blog however, I realized the need to make the food look as good as it tasted. I started learning and practicing on my own.
cannelle et vanille

JD :: You are from Spain. In what ways do you think food is regarded similarly and/or differently between people living in Spain and the United States?
AG :: In Spain food is embraced everyday. People really pay attention to the quality of ingredients for all meals, not only special occasions. It is also a culture where not only the food is important but also the time itself. For example, at lunch time people always sit down for lunch. No exceptions. Everything stops for lunch and it is not only 30 minutes but sometimes 2 hours. This is a daily affair.
cannelle et vanille

JD :: You have shared that the Canon 5D is your current favorite camera. Tell us about some of your favorite lenses.
AG :: I shoot mostly with the 100mm macro 2.8 IS and the 24-70mm 2.8
JD :: Years ago, before you had Cannelle et Vanille ... did you imagine that things would evolve the way that they have? Was it your intent to become a leader of food and photography or was it something that just happened without a specific path that you built?
AG :: First of all, you are very kind, but I am far from a leader in food and photography. I have lots to learn still and I like to think that way. Having said that, I never would have imagined that things would have turned out this way. It's a dream.
JD :: Are your children adventurous eaters? Do they eat everything that you prepare for them?
AG :: My oldest who is 5 1/2 used to be a great eater until he turned 3 then he be and very picky. He has a very sensitive taste to textures and spices. My daughter, who is 2, will try anything. Keeping fingers crossed that it will not change.
Cannelle et vanille

JD :: What is your favorite meal of the day? ... do you enjoy that meal alone or in the company of others?
AG :: I love all meals but perhaps breakfast is my favorite. I cannot function without it. I most enjoy meals in the company of others. I take more time to savor foods when I am with people.
JD :: Finish this sentence: "People may not realize that the best food ..."
AG :: ... is not always the most expensive or exclusive.
JD :: This week, if you were allowed an extra 2 hours to be inserted into your days ... would you want those extra hours inserted in the mornings, the afternoons, or in the late evenings?
AG :: Oh I would love 2 more hours of sleep in the mornings.. Sleep deprived.
cannelle et vanille
JD :: Aside from all that you do ... is there any other activity that you consider to be a creative outlet for you like drawing or painting or any other type of artwork?
AG :: My father and brother are painters and they always wanted to me to start painting. I never had a true interest but I think that is changing. Painting is something that I definitely want to try soon.
JD :: Think fast and say a word or two when I say:
  • fennel :: fragrant
  • red :: one of my favorite colors
  • Madrid :: airport to go home
  • yogurt :: sheep's milk
  • daughter :: love
  • flash :: never use it
  • thread :: hands
  • moon :: pink (nick drake's pink moon)
  • tangles :: my hair
  • car seat :: bulky necessity 
  • eggshells :: colorful 
  • gluten :: makes me sick
JD :: I'm excited to know that your first cookbook will be released later in the year. Could you tell us a bit about it? What sort of recipes will the book be offering?
AG :: Yes the book will be released October 23. It is called Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family's Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking. It is 120 naturally gluten-free recipes divided by seasons. There are the savory small plates inspired by that style of eating in the Basque Country where I am from and my favorite sweet treats from years of baking. It is full of my photography and styling, as well as personal stories.
small plates and sweet treats
JD :: You have entered the world of teaching workshops on food styling and photography. What do you think the most important thing is for someone who enters your class or anyone else's class in terms of getting the most out of these types of experiences?
AG :: First it's important to know the basics of your camera. Then also make a list of specific things you want learn. It's great to come prepared with questions.
Aran Goyoaga
JD :: Is there a food that you used to dislike that you now really like?
AG :: When I first came to the US, I really disliked root beer. It tasted like medicine to me. But someone gave me a homemade root beer not long ago and it actually enjoyed it.

All photos courtesy of Aran Goyoaga. Learn more at www.cannellevanille.com

May 06, 2012

Legato :: Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S

legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S
by Jenny Doh

After spending time as a professional first in the world of publishing and then finance, Liesl Gibson embraced her true desire to work in the creative world and therefore went back to school in her late 20s to earn a degree in clothing design. "When I walked into my first patternmaking class, the light went on and I knew I was in the right place," she says. When her daughter was born, she quit her job working for a big apparel company and started designing and sewing for her ... which is how her company, Oliver + S was born. 
Liesl Gibson1
JD :: First things first. Who is Oliver? And who is S?
LG :: Oliver + S started almost by accident. I was designing clothing and sewing for my daughter. One of my dear friends, who has a son the same age as my daughter, encouraged me to publish my patterns. So when it came time to name the new company I decided to name it after her son, Oliver, and my daughter, who we call S.
Liesl Gibson2
JD :: Tell me about your first sewing machine. What was it like? What did you sew on it? Who was by your side guiding you?
LG :: I learned to sew by watching my mom and asking a lot of questions. I wouldn’t let her teach me (i.e., actually let her help me make something), but I hung out with her and kept a close eye on what she was doing. I finally decided to jump right in one summer when I was in college and my family was away on vacation. I stayed home for a summer job, and I marched myself over to the fabric store to buy ticking and a simple jumper pattern. I loved every minute of it and never looked back! So I really started sewing on my mom’s Pfaff, and then I inherited my grandma’s old Singer from the 1940s. That machine got me through design school—barely. It had tension issues, and I was thrilled to upgrade just around the time that I started Oliver + S.

JD :: Tell me about the machine (or machines) you currently work on.
LG :: Now I have a couple of Janome machines and just love them. My fancy machine (Janome 6600) is big and computerized and does all sorts of delicious things like automatic buttonholes. It lives at our studio, but at home I sew on a little Janome Jem which is simple and lightweight and still very powerful. I’ve made all sorts of things on it, including winter coats. I also use a Janome serger, which saves lots of time and makes everything look professional on the inside.

Liesel Gibson6
JD :: These days when you sew, are you by yourself or are there people near you? What do they think about your sewing?
LG :: I don’t have as much time to sew as I would like, but I still sew through every pattern several times. I do most of my sewing at home, at night in our converted closet that we call “the workroom.” We live in a tiny one-bedroom in Manhattan, so space is at a premium and I often go into the workroom to sew when my seven-year-old is going to bed. She likes to know that I’m close by, and I get a little work done in the process. She loves it when I sew for her. And my husband knows that I need to be making things to stay sane. So everyone is supportive!
Liesl Gibson3
JD ::
I LOVE dragging outfits onto the paper dolls on your site. It makes me remember the HOURS I spent playing with my paper dolls. Tell me about your memories of playing with paper dolls.

LG :: Oh, I loved paper dolls too! My sisters and I played with them for hours when we were growing up. And my mom was very patient and helped us to cut out the tricky bits. I’m sure all that time spent playing paper dolls contributed to my love of sewing and apparel. What’s better than being able to dream up a dress and then actually being able to go make it?

JD :: You recently taught at The Makerie. And there were students of yours who wore the muslins that they had created to dinner ... not the finished dress but the "practice" dress that you teach students to make before they make their final dress. First, how did you feel to see your students look so cute wearing their muslins ... and second ... tell us the definition of a muslin and what part it plays in constructing a final garment.
LG :: Wasn’t that great? I cried—it meant so much to me. I teach because I love what I do, and I want to share what I’ve learned with other women so they can make whatever they dream up. But it’s challenging to teach a one-day class because no one leaves with a finished dress. I wanted everyone to have a real sense of accomplishment, and I was afraid that leaving with a muslin would feel more like a task that still needed to be finished. So when Angela and Geanie wore their muslins to dinner (accessorized beautifully, by the way!) it really made my day. I could see that they were proud of what they had accomplished. And I hope that they went home excited to make the dresses, too. A muslin, by the way, is a test garment. It helps you to work out any fit issues and construction details before you cut into your “real” fabric. So, for example, we don’t finish the neckline or the seam allowances like you would on an actual dress. The muslin has lots of markings on it so can check how the dress fits and make adjustments to it to perfect the pattern for each individual, too. It’s like the rough draft.

Liesl Gibson4
JD :: You have so many wonderful things that you offer in your shop ... like patterns, books, and videos. Let's talk about patterns. Tell me about the process of creating a pattern. How does it start? How does it all come together?
LG :: I’m right in the middle of our fall patterns right now. It’s a long process that start with the design itself: the silhouette (shape), the details like collars, seams, pockets, etc. Then we make a test pattern or two (or three) to check the fit before we sew it to make sure it will come together smoothly. We often need to try a few methods to find the best way to sew it, the best way to get it on (buttons, zipper, pull-on?). That’s all the easy part. Then when the pattern if final and we’ve confirmed that we like the method of sewing we can grade the pattern into all the various sizes. And in the meantime we write the instructions, make the illustrations, and then I format the pattern so it looks pretty and each size can be used easily. It’s a very detailed process that takes about four months, with a couple of additional months for printing the patterns before they can be delivered. And then we start all over again with the next season!

JD :: You have a passion for accessories and toys for children, as evidenced by your book, Oliver + S Little Things To Sew. Can you share with us how you conceived of this book concept? What parts of it were easy? What parts of it were challenging?
LG :: Right from the start, I had been gradually assembling a list of ideas for smaller projects that didn’t feel like they merited a full-fledged sewing pattern of their own, so it seemed natural that those smaller projects could be combined into a book of patterns for accessories and toys. The book is called Oliver + S Little Things to Sew because that’s exactly what it is.

We eventually chose to work with a publisher that would allow us to bring our whole team to the project, and as a result the book retains the feel of our sewing patterns and brand. Dan, our paper doll illustrator, provided the paper doll illustrations. (There are paper dolls printed on cardstock at the back of the book and the dust jacket features little paper doll illustrations of the outfits and items from the book that can be cut up to dress the dolls.) My friend Brooke, who did our logo and package design, also designed the book. And I was able to use the same technical editor we use for our patterns. It was a lot of fun to work with the team on the book, and even more fun to work with our wonderful photographer, Laurie Frankel, to shoot the projects.  Little Things to Sew
JD :: Think fast and say the first word (or two) that comes to mind when I say the following:

  • ears: bunnies (S’s obsession at present) 
  • blanket: quilts
  • stripes: my favorite pattern
  • students: love!
  • mothers: mine is awesome. I hope I can be half as good.
  • children: adore them. I think someday I’d like to be a school teacher 
  • cotton: great to sew with, comfortable to wear
  • oatmeal: my favorite breakfast
  • apron: best when made from linen because it keeps getting better with age
  • paint: doing all sorts of it right now as we get ready for our semi-annual trade show!
  • dart: great for adding shape to a garment
  • fathers: I’m married to a good one
  • Sound of Music: no fair! Ok, yes. My name comes partially from the Sound of Music and partially from my grandma’s nickname. Her father was German, and Liesl is a German diminutive/nickname for little girls
  • dolls: at our house we’re obsessed with Samantha, the American Girl doll
  • bedtime: always a challenge at our house. I’m a night owl. So is my daughter, apparently!
  • pinking shears: I rarely use them. I prefer to zigzag stitch a seam allowance
Liesl Gibson5
 JD :: If someone were to give you an extra 10 hours to use this week, what would you do with those hours?
LG ::
Sadly, I would use them to catch up on deadlines. I’m starting to fall behind, and I get a little panicky when that happens. I could really use some help right about now! But ask me again in a month or so and I’d be thrilled to go get a cup of coffee or hang out at the park or something. That sounds lovely right now.
JD :: When you allow yourself to dawdle ... to just veg and do nothing ... what would that scene look like? What are you doing when you are dawdling?
LG :: That depends. When I’m completely overwhelmed and stressed out I often try to create order by cleaning out a closet. Sometimes it works, too! But when I just have time to myself and no stress I’ll either hang out with a book or a magazine (I have stacks of them) or start a new project. There are so many things I’d like to make, but I rarely have time to do something just for fun anymore.
Liesl JD :: When the sun is setting ... on most days, where are you and who are you with?
LG :: I’m almost always at home with my husband (and business partner) and daughter. We try to have dinner together almost every night because evenings are our family time. It’s often hectic as we’re doing homework and taking care of regular life details, but I love it that we can be together. Back when I started Oliver + S my husband was working in finance, and we really only saw him on the weekends because his workdays were so long. I’m really glad we can be together for meals and evenings now.

Photos by Lesley Colvin. To learn more about Liesl Gibson, visit www.oliverands.com.

April 08, 2012

Legato :: Olaf Hajek

legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Olaf Hajek
by Jenny Doh

Olaf Hajek lives in Berlin. A big city filled with beauty that ignites his imagination as an illustrator and painter. He describes himself as complex, which is how many describe his  paintings, where he masterfully packs the space with layers of imagery and color. "With my images, people actually have to enjoy the process of delving in and decrypting them," he says.

Olaf Hajek African BeautyJD :: The faces in your art ... they are gripping. They grip me. How do you do that?
OH :: I am happy that you see it that way, but ist hard to say how I do it. I don´t have a real explanation for it. I just try to combine realistic and simple, nearly naive elements with each other. 

JD :: Are they renditions of real people or fictitious ones?
OH :: It depends on what I am working on ... I did a lot of commissions for portraits for magazines like Rolling Stone. But most of the faces are fictitious ones.
Olaf Hajek Burgbad
JD :: I love the diversity of the people in your paintings. Some have lighter skin. Some have darker skin. And some feel like bright and sunny while others feel darker and cloudy. Tell me about how you think diversity of culture relates to your work. And also your thoughts about what you may have observed in different cultures that you've been around.
OH :: Different cultures, their special aesthetics and different history and people are a big resource for my work. As an illustrator I worked for many clients all over the world. As an artist I see myself as a "mind traveler" who travels the world and collages all the different cultures which each other.
Olaf Hajek Sebastian cookbook
JD :: I'd really love to know what your process is like when you paint. I know it sounds like an elementary question ... I'm interested in anything you might feel like sharing ... like what comes first in terms of your process ... or maybe what the studio feels like when you're creating ... and maybe what is going on in your mind when you are in the process.
OH :: My studio is a very important place. I love to work there and I am happy in the morning when I open my door!  If I have to work on an assignment, I go through some routines. Sketching, talking to the client, and paint the final illustration. Working on a personal series for an exhibition or a project is sometimes more complex. It can be very hard and desperate but it can be the biggest joy as well. There is a process where I don´t like the painting at all and have to overpaint it, but then most of the time a creative process is starting. There is color and surface which leads me int a new direction. The painterly element of my work is becoming more and more important.
JD :: In the Preface of your book, Flowerhead, you describe your preference for processes like finger painting or acrylic ton cardboard or canvas, versus computer-generated templates. This preference is attributed to your attraction for the immediacy of the process. Tell me about immediacy. Is it synonymous to urgency? To impatience? 
OH :: I love the process of the painting. I feel a much more personal relation to my painting. The computer is a different tool, a different style! It has nothing to do with being impatient, it has something to do with immediate experience and the feeling for the work itself.

JD :: For an artist of your stature and experience, do you still feel that experimentation is part of what you pursue or do you feel that it's more about refining what you know?
OH :: It's somehow both, but its always a big decision to start to experiment something completely new. Its a question of time and energy. But there is still a lot if things I need to refine as well!
JD :: What's the best thing you learned at art school?
OH :: I learned much more at the time before I went to art school, when I visited some drawing classes as a young kid. My portraiture  teacher at that time told us ... if you are not able to draw the nose ... then just leave it ... as long as the painting will be good ... I love that advice.

JD :: I know that you were born in a small German town. Where in Germany do you currently live? For those of us who haven't been, describe your town to us. And tell me ... do you fit in? 
OH :: I live in Berlin and I would say its the only german city I could live in ... it's a big, creative and innovative city, but there is a lot of contrast ... this city never leaves you indifferent. I sometimes have a love/hate relation to it, but it is home at the same time. I live in a very creative circle, which is wonderful.

JD :: Do you feel that you are a complex person, much like the way some regard your paintings?
OH :: Of course I am..who isn´t?
Olaf Hajek
JD :: Think fast and tell me a word or two when I say the following:
  • protest :: commitment
  • tattoo :: skin illustration
  • cigarettes :: smoke
  • Germany :: native country
  • New York :: energy
  • California :: sun and size
  • beard :: nature man
  • dress :: fashion
  • skin :: canvas
  • mask :: mystery
  • caterpillar :: butterfly
  • snow :: winter
  • coral :: jewelry
  • Kurt Cobain :: rock´n´roll
  • Playboy magazine :: client
  • human :: dignity
  • divine :: heavenly
olaf hajek
JD :: What's the first thing you eat and drink when you rise?
OH :: Flat white and muesli and ginger water.

JD :: Tell me about the piece or pieces that you are working on right now. What stage are they in? What do you plan to do next to them?
OH :: I am working of a series of 5 Antoinette figures. It´s a personal commission from a collector in Israel. I am working on the 4th painting right now. My next big thing will be a new monograph about my work at the GESTALTEN Publishers. It will come out in June and there will be a book launch and a show in berlin in July. I will work on a new gallery show in berlin for autumn this year and have a new solo show in South Africa next spring.
Olaf Hajek Winterson oranges
JD :: Is there anything in life that you feel ought to happen quicker than it does?
OH :: Winter.

JD :: Is there anything in life that you feel ought to happen slower than it does?
OH :: Sunshine.

All images shown here are provided courtesy of Olaf Hajek.
To learn more, visit www.olafhajek.com.

March 15, 2012

Legato :: Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin

  legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Natalie Chanin
by Jenny Doh

Slowly, methodically, organically, and deliberately. This is how Natalie Chanin has built Alabama Chanin — a company that creates clothing and items for the home with materials and methods that are simultaneously subdued and spectacular. Florence, Alabama is where the magic happens for Natalie ... a place that was destined for all things intriguing, all things Alabama Chanin. 

Alabama ChaninJD :: To people who might think that to be chic, that one needs to spend a ton of money, what would you tell them?
NC :: It is amazing how much one can do with a little bit of material and ingenuity.  Styling, a pair of scissors, thread, and a needle can work wonders for any wardrobe.

Alabama Chanin
JD :: Organic cotton, which is signature to your look, makes me happy every time I see it. It looks so comfortable, it feels so comfortable, it exudes simple elegance. Tell me about your relationship with organic cotton and other materials that you are drawn to as you create.
NC :: Cotton is, quite simply, a part of the vernacular of my community. Most of us who grew up in the rural south can recognize the smell of cotton growing. It is just part of who we are. It took me years to realize that as a designer, I was drawn to the stuff of my childhood. It helps that the clothes we make from our organic cotton are so comfortable, too. We make a joke that every day is pajama day at our office…

JD :: Tell me about your earliest memories with hand stitching. Who taught you? Was it love at first stitch?
NC :: My grandmothers taught me a love for needle and thread; however, I wouldn’t say that it was love at first stitch!  Even today, my stitches tend to be more eccentric than perfect.  While the artisans that create our garments have perfected the hand stitch, I have perfected my LOVE of hand embroidery and my understanding of how each perfect stitch can be incorporated in to a piece of contemporary clothing.

JD :: Your company names Slow Design and Sustainability as its core values. The values are in many ways counter to the dominant cultural values of speed, mass production, and instant gratification. How has the journey been to swim against the currant? What have you learned through this process?
NC :: There are definitely days when it feels like we are swimming upstream backwards without a clear idea of where we are headed or the dangers that may ensue – sound dramatic?  It’s not quite that exaggerated, but there has been a BIG learning curve and we still struggle with supply chain issues.  If I have learned anything, I think that it would be that you just have to get up every morning and start swimming again. Slowly (perhaps the reason for the name “Slow Design), slowly, thing have begun to change and it is that slight shift that makes it all worthwhile.

Alabama Chanin
JD :: You are located in Florence, Alabama, right? For folks who've never been, describe what it's like there. Is what we see through Alabama Chanin a reflection of Florence, Alabama or a future forecast?
NC :: Yes, Florence, Alabama – which is part of The Shoals Community. We are really four cities: Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia.  What Alabama Chanin does is definitely a reflection of what is going on in our small community. We have such great design – Billy Reid, Carter and Co. – and music – The Civil Wars, The Alabama Shakes, Doc Daily and Magnolia Devil – and art, and literature.  This has been a community of great creativity for a very long time.  Hard to follow in footsteps of people like Helen Keller, W.C. Handy, Pulitzer Prize winning authors like Hank Klibanoff and T.S. Stribling, wouldn’t you say?

JD :: Does the day afford you the time to sit down at least once for a good meal? If so, which meal is it usually?
NC :: My daughter and I sit down to breakfast every day.  It is a ritual I love. We have a weekly meal together in our studio and I try to prepare at least two additional “good” lunches a week for myself. However, I find a meal “together” to be one of the most important things we can do as colleagues, family, and friends. 

I was once told that most National Merit Scholars have sit-down dinners with their families.

So, that being said, I try to wrangle my daughter to the dinner table at the end of each day, where we share stories of what transpired since breakfast. Doesn’t always work but we are trying!

Alabama Chanin
JD :: Your color palette ... so soothing, so lovely. Is this palette the one that runs throughout your own home and wardrobe or are there colors in certain part of your life that is different?
NC :: I would say that the color palette seen in Alabama Chanin goods is certainly a part of my entire life. I am drawn to rich soothing colors – always have been.

JD :: Think fast and tell me a word or two when I say the following:

  • Bride - journey
  • Letterpress - words
  • covered button - beauty
  • French knot - intricate
  • Guitar - melodic
  • Neon - pop
  • Puppy - exuberance
  • Aperture - photos
  • Denim - indigo
  • Coffee - sigh
  • Boots - life
  • Chic - style
  • Time - luxury
  • Biscuit - daily
  • Diary - dreams

JD :: If I said to you the words "hot beverage" ... what would you say to that? What image or memory do those words conjure up for you?
NC :: Cappuccino, please.  My morning routine.

JD :: You have a brand new book that has been released titled Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Tell me about how you conceived of the projects and methods you share in this book, and what you hope readers will take away from reading it.
NC :: Alabama Studio Sewing + Design is the culmination of a decade of my work with Alabama Chanin. The “Studio” books are really a conversation about the intersection of community, craft, fashion, and design. This book feels like the period at the end of the sentence of that conversation. I hope that readers will feel empowered to take charge of their own wardrobes and, in a great sense, their lives. To make for oneself – even in the smallest of ways – allows us to grow into our own humanity.

JD :: In terms of a Creative Bucket List, can you share with us 2 or 3 items that are top on that list?
NC :: At the moment, evening gowns, my yard, and my garden … this may change next week!

JD :: Finish this sentence: "Some people may not realize that hand sewing is ... "
NC :: …empowering.

JD :: When life gets hectic and stressful, what or who reminds you that everything will be ok?
NC :: I am so often brought back to earth by my daughter Maggie – who is about to turn 6. It’s amazing how a game of Paper Rock Scissors can put your life into perspective!

Alabama Chanin

All images are provided, courtesy of Natalie Chanin. Many thanks to Ellie Levine (of Stewart, Tabori & Chang/STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books) for her support with this interview.
Learn more about Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin here
Buy her new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design here.


February 05, 2012

Legato :: Jesse Reno

 legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

Jesse Reno
by Jenny Doh

In 1999-2000, after having created about 100 paintings, Jesse Reno made a commitment to paint. It was, as he describes, something that he liked more than any other thing he had done or had been doing. What he had been doing in terms of his day job was to work as a postman in the state of Pennsylvania ... a job that he would eventually find a way of letting go, as his commitment catapulted him into the world of painting. Full-time, and all-consuming. 

JD :: Tell me about the words on your hands: Love and Hate ... about the line that separates the two and how at times one changes to the other.
JR :: The lines is pretty far from the two in my mind. like and dislike are way closer then love and hate. It is worth noting that in life we have to do things we love and hate and the idea for me is to remember which are which and why you do each. Only do things you hate out of neccesity. Remember to do the things you love and to move toward them any way you can. The other key thing to remember is it's better to love or hate than it is to be void of feeling. In the instance of the tattoos I dont have them for any of these reasons I have them because my dad has these same tattoos, and I got mine when he almost died a few years ago as a gesture of respect and lineage.

Jesse Reno
JD :: I think fans of your work can tell that it's your work from a mile away. If we were to look at your early works, do you think we could still see strands that relate to your current works? What are those strands?
JR :: I'd say it would be pretty clear pretty far back, my work has changed but I'd consider it all more evolution then change. The techniques motivations and basic feelings are all the same. The ideas have grown the layers have multiplied, the stories have gotten more defined and the legend of symbols is bigger but the base is still the same and comes from the same ideas of introspection self growth and persistance.

JD :: Who is your best friend?
JR :: Micheal Fields, Lana Guerra, my dog Buddy. I can choose 3 if I want as they are all my best friends.

JD :: I read in the Citrus Report interview that you worked as a postman and that you snuck in painting in between shifts to keep sane. I think the need to find ways to cope and stay sane while working in insane workplaces is a reality that many people relate to. Besides painting, were there any other methods that you used to cope in the workplace?
JR :: I was a postman in Pennsylvania before moving to Oregon. It was an alright job actually; it wasn't insane as much as I was at the time. It just became harder and harder to work a day job. The more I painted and saw what was possible. I started going insane about 2.5 years into painting.
By that time I was showing, and selling my artwork regularly ... not enough to quit work but I was making a part-time income. So each day all I could think about was my big escape. So painting at work was just part of the escape as well as a break from the madness. I focused everything on this
so I didnt do much else at work besides work, paint and daydream about paintings or shows, or ideas that would lead to my painting career and my escape from work.

Jesse Reno
JD :: Tell me about the music and sounds that you create.
JR :: I've been making music since i was about 14 years old. I play guitar, bass, drum machines, synthesizers, sequencers, scratch records on turntables, make noise on violins, cellos, violimbas, and other toy instruments. So I make a mix of musical styles and record them in my home studio. I like to make music with the idea of rythm, sounds, and notes interacting rather than parts or keys or parts. A lot of it is pretty linear. I do multiple projects ... kidspecial is a trip hop project, powercircus is an experimental project with two other musicians lana guerra and mahon rose. There are a bunch of other tracks I do here and there.. The best way to find out about it is to go to my site, jessereno.com and click the music link. I really hate trying to describe music.

Jesse Reno
JD :: The workshops you teach are usually 3 days-long. How come 3 days? How come not 2 days or 1? What happens in 3 days?
JR :: You need breaks to get away from your own head and ideas. Most people think about moves as right or wrong then this dictates how they feel about them. In creative instances there are many unexpected outcomes that should not be judged this way. And this thinking is key to my process ...
learning to see an experience of what your are creating, rather then judging it as right or wrong. I'd rather look at things out of the moment when judging. I find a more honest eye when I look at things for what they are rather than what I expected. Expectation can really cloud your vision. So to really get a full understanding of my techniques and ideas about observing art, you need time to digest and comprehend the experience. I'm sure all my students who have taken a 3 or 5 day class will tell you, I tell them a lot of the same things but each day they have a new understanding of the concepts. I'm teaching people about painting, but I'm also teaching them about finding instinct, freeing themselves from there own judgments, as well as taking responsibility for there creations. That's a lot to accomplish in 5 days let alone 3, let alone 2 or 1.

JD :: So we've talked about love and hate. Let's talk about war and peace. How do we live peace? In other words, how do we manage the inevitable conflicts that humans create?
JR :: Not sure. That's all going to depend on the situation and the person. Living truth is a good start. Doing what you believe, and fully understanding it. When forced with conflict fully explaining yourself. Choosing personal values over political ideals. Politics are like creating divisions in ideas and drawing lines betweeen people who could agree on 20 things and disagree on one ... dividing people who for the most part agree based on one idea. Creating teams is a great way to create a conflict. Beyond that I'm not sure what to say.

JD :: Tell me about the music you listen to.
JR :: I listen to music thats all over the place all depends on the day or moment ... timber timbre, coco rosie, minor threat, the ventures, the doors, the mifits, the sex pistols, bauhuas, jay z, method man, beastie boys, anima, mum, crystal castles, tom waits, the zombies, bonobo, amon tobin, bierut, devotchka, powercircus, kidspecial, elliot smith, lightning bolt, etc.

JD :: I kind of feel that you dream vividly when you sleep. Is that right? Do your dream scenes look like your paintings?
JR :: Nope. I rarely remember my dreams at all. And when I do they are pretty normal like me teaching class or hanging out or some other regular life activity. When I'm awake I daydream really well.

Jesse Reno
JD :: What's your favorite meal?
JR :: Veggie samosa, cheese nan, and mutter paneer, with a mango lassi.

JD :: What's your favorite snack?
JR :: Iced coffee

JD :: My hunch is that you're a night owl. That you stay up super late ... painting. Do I have it right?
JR :: Sometimes. I just do what my brain and body tell me. I wake up when I wake up and sleep when I sleep. A lot of the time it seems to be wake up between 10am and noon, go to sleep between 1 am 4am.

JD :: Finish this sentence: "The thing people might not know about paint is that ...
JR :: ... it can be cheap and non toxic.

JD :: Finish this sentence: "The one thing I know for sure is that ...
JR :: ... persistance will bring you to your goals.

Jesse Reno
JD :: Think of a word or two that come to mind when I say:
    home - trees - rain
    baritone, tremelo,
    noise, horror
post office
    old, tall

Jesse Reno
JD :: You say that folks who can't relate to your work need to loosen up. What is the key to loosening up?
JR :: Recognizing that mistakes are as valuable as any other possible outcome. Some of the best things happen by mistake. Learning to believe in what you believe, and to trust in your intentions to lead you to your desires.


All images provided courtesy of Jesse Reno. Visit www.jessereno.com.

January 15, 2012

Legato :: Ghostpatrol

 le•ga•to :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

by Jenny Doh

Ghostpatrol was born in Hobart, Australia and now lives in Melbourne, working closely with artist, Miso, to create artworks that can be seen on the streets and within galleries. Ghostpatrol's body of work includes small works like drawings on pencils, and very large works, like murals on buildings. The spectrum of moods that the works evoke is also incredibly broad ... from playful and adorable ... to melancholy and macabre. 

Ghost Patrol
JD :: The body of your work is quite large and I'd like to focus this interview on the characters that frequently appear on your murals and also on your works with pencils. I look at your characters and I first think: "How adorable!" And then I look a bit closer and think "How odd" or "How sad." I suppose all of these reactions ultimately reflect how very inviting they are. Tell me a bit more about the characters that we see in your art.
GP :: The worlds I create are full of different ideas. I try not to control too much of the emotions in the work. I just let the pencil and paper work it out. The places and people speak to me through drawing them out. Planning and controlling a message doesn't really exist in m work. I'd rather people make their own meaning.

Ghost Patrol

Ghost Patrol
JD ::
When you work on such a large scale like public buildings, I'm very curious about the process. What kind of planning is involved? How long does the execution take to install? How does it feel when you see it evolve through exposure to the elements, including potential humans who might alter it? 

GP :: Some pieces are spontaneous and are free to decay, whilst others take a lot of planning at a team to execute. I often get to work with design firms or architects on projects, which i great.

Ghost Patrol
JD :: Let's talk about your pencils. They are adorable. I imagine that they need to be mounted during the process of exposing the wood and then painting on them. Could you share your process a bit with us? How did they become a substrate for your art?
GP :: The pencil idea just appeared in my mind, so the next day i gathered the materials and began experimenting. They seem to strike a chord with many people. The simplicity id the key. That body of work was finished many years ago, but it's still nice to get heaps of comments about that series.

Ghost Patrol
JD :: Tell me what is your relationship with pencils? Do you prefer writing with pencils versus pens?
GP ::
Brushes are my real favourite.  I don't have a problem with pens.  I think there is a culture of people obsessing with fine stationery. It's how you use it. 

Ghost Patrol
JD :: So creating a large mural is ... well ... large. And creating a painting on pencils is much smaller. Tell me a bit about the differences and similarities of working on such dramatically different scales.
GP :: The larger works al start off small. I spend a lot of time drawing in my sketch book.  Some work just lends it self to becoming much bigger. I usually create many drafts or experiments along the way.   The difference doesn't seem the odd when you're doing it everyday.  I like to have the flexibility to move across and between sizes and mediums.


JD :: So you grew up in Hobart, Australia and currently live in Melbourne, Australia. Tell us a bit about what it's like living in Australia. Do you feel you are living in one of the most beautiful lands of the world?
GP :: I'm lucky enough to be able to travel a lot. I feel very lucky to be able to move around and see the parts of life that Australia is missing but also return and enjoy the amazing places and people in Australia. 
JD :: Was art at the center of your childhood and family as you were growing up or did you have to make it your center as an older person?
GP :: I didn't really know what art was until my early 20s. I was always drawing though it wasn't until I started university that I started to create works. I think I was creative as a younger person, but I was not attracted to the way art was taught at school, and as it turns out; you don't need to study art to be an artist.
JD :: What is usually the first thing you do when you get up? 
GP :: Early starts to clear email and update projects, then off to studio.

JD :: What is usually the last thing when you go to sleep?
GP :: Draw.

JD :: What do you know for sure?
GP :: The universe is very large.

JD :: What is one thing you can never be sure of?
GP :: We live in a multiverse.


All images were provided by Ghostpatrol. To learn more, visit www.ghostpatrol.net.

November 06, 2011

Legato :: Jennifer Mercede + Giveaway

 le•ga•to :: in a manner that is smooth and connected

by Jenny Doh

She is inspired by children, by nature, and elements found in urban life. Her painting process involves the building up of layer upon layer ... a process that requires the ability to let go to a point where the pain of doing so opens up imagery that is only possible through a complete surrendering to the process. This is how Jennifer works, learns, grows, and evolves.

Jennifer Mercede
JD :: I recently saw the installation art you created at The Anti Mall in Costa Mesa. Tell me about how that installation came about. And I'm also interested in what the process is like when you create such large works in public.
JM ::
I love that place! Its so colorful and original. My recent goals have been to introduce my art into new markets and what better place than Southern California! I made a connection with Melissa Northway, a collector of my art, author of the book I’m illustrating and now friend who lives down there. She investigated places for me to show and one happened to be the Artery at the Lab. They decided it was a great fit and also invited me to do this mural, I call it "the Stripe," as part of their Arbor Day celebration. It was so cool … they even made little seed packets with my art on it! 

Jennifer Mercede
As far as the mural goes, I typically have a general vision or rough theme of what I’m going to do. For this one, I was inspired by the colors of the LAB, a botanical theme for Arbor Day and I knew I wanted to use purple. The process is similar to that of individual paintings I create. I basically start scribbling with markers, pencils and paint all over the wall, making sure to cover all ground. Words emerge as bi-products of conversations with observers or song lyrics from a band playing around the corner. Floral drawings were inspired by the plants around the LAB. In this particular mural, I even collaborated with a handful of creative kids passing by. As time expires, I gradually become more deliberate and create a balance to the space I’ve now colored.

Jennifer Mercede
JD :: When I was viewing that art, I was with three other artists. As we were admiring it, I explained that your work was distinctive because it has an element that I describe as "street" ... which I suppose means that it doesn't feel fully "studio." Does that make sense? How do you react to that?
JM :: This is a great question, thank you for asking. I love to hear my art categorized as part "street." I relate it to graffiti, Brooklyn, hip hop, the 80s, inner city living, etc. I think all these things are cool, yet don’t necessarily feel a part of this culture. I am certainly inspired by it, so I take it as a compliment. To describe street art, I’d say it’s raw, not totally refined. Bold. Colorful. Bright and neon colors to be specific. I also think text makes it more urban, perhaps because graffiti is words?

Jennifer Mercede
JD :: So you were born in Long Beach and grew up in Connecticut. Tell me about how that came to be. And also, where do you live now? Do you wish you were living any place else?  
JM ::
My parents come from large families in Connecticut. My dad works for Nestle and got transferred to California, where I was born and then he was transferred back. I only lived there for a few months, but that is long enough for me to claim that I am in fact a Beach Boys California girl!  Ha! I currently live in Portland, Oregon. Portland has been AMAZING for the development of my art career. The community here is super supportive of art and artists. It has allowed me to thrive. I still like Portland, its pretty unique. Its easy to bike everywhere, I love the rain and the mild temperature. I do feel inspired to live on the water, probably a lake as I love to swim! I also want to be near my parents.  I’m not sure when or where that will happen, but I assume someday I will say hello to a new home, hopefully one with a waterfront!

JD :: I notice also that you use neons in your work. Not too much but a little bit. Have you always used fluorescents? Are there rules you impose on yourself when it comes to these rather dramatic colors?
JM :: I have not always used neon colors. I think I started back in 2008, possibly from when I first started using Nova Color paints for murals, as they offer a fluorescent pink color. Like I mentioned in a previous question, the neon relates to this sort of street feel. I like the way its brightness stands out. I feel these colors keep me young. I also like the juxtaposition of bright colors next to more neutral ones.

While I’ve never felt quite compelled to make a completely neon painting, I do think I must limit my use of the fluorescents. I’m sure its related to sales; who really wants a neon painting in their home? Most people do not have neon décor! However, as I say that I am reminded that that is not why I make art. A fully neon piece could be fun! And quite street or pop culture … so watch out!

JD :: Do you teach? If so, where, and what has the teaching process been like for you? Do you enjoy it?
JM :: I have taught a little. I’ve done mostly private lessons for both adults and kids. While I love sharing what I do, and watching people open up and freely express themselves, I typically wait for teaching opportunities to come to me versus seeking it out. Which is what has happened with you! I look forward to traveling to California and having fun with your students, it will be my first official workshop! [Note: Jennifer Mercede will be debuting her very first 2-day painting workshop in Studio Crescendoh on March 3-4, 2012. Details will be posted soon.]
JD :: I understand that your aim is to have your work uplift. So my question is about when you are feeling dejected. When you are feeling down, are you able to create? And if so, are you able to create uplifting art? Or do you find that different type of art comes out in those instances and if so, how do you feel about the works that come out that are not close to your aim?

JM :: This is also a great question. Yes, I love to paint when I’m feeling down. Its actually a great way for me to release frustration or sadness. I tend to get really physical with lots of rough scribbling and globs of paint flying all over the place; your typical artist. It baffles me because even the art I create during those periods tends to come out cheerful. There is only one series I can recall in which I chose blacks and red, colors I never use, and feel that my negative, menstrual cycle induced mood clearly transmitted.  I’ve provided an image.

Jennifer Mercede

JD :: What's the key to letting go?
JM ::
Ha ha ha!  You’re asking me?! As life would play the game, of course you ask me this question when it is just the thing I am currently faced with in my life. Powerful. I suppose an onlooker could watch my art process and say that I have mastered the art of letting go. Granted, in my art I paint layers. I build up a layer to a point that looks like it could be finished, and then BOOM, paint right over it with a large brush loaded with white. Or I’ll get to a point where I’m scratching my head and ask, how can I move this forward? BOOM take that same large brush and wash over it with a yellow orange. 

Yes, it’s a letting go. Especially when I first started to do that, I would think, really? I’m really going to paint over everything I just labored over for the last three hours? Really? And I do. And sometimes I cringe.  I’ve even cried. I jump on the roller coaster. Sometimes it takes me down, to a place where I hate the painting. Its often a stage in the process where I feel connected to the truth, where I am most open to life. It’s a point where I choose to surrender to the painting itself.

So you ask what the key to letting go is. Your question has me pondering deep, is washing over a layer really a letting go? Or an escape? Translating it to life, if I were to operate the same way, when a situation gets tough and I choose to "paint over it," wouldn’t that be running away versus letting go? 

Surrendering to the process and trusting is essential. Its something I’d like to employ more in my everyday life. When I choose to let go in my art, I am confident that the painting will turn out great.  Like I mentioned, it may go downhill, but as long as I keep working on it, it will always come back up. Nine times out of ten the painting has transition to a place far more exciting then where it was.

     *Trust that everything will turn out great, or even better than they are
     *Surrender to the process, of art or of life
     *Be brave and take risks
     *Stay committed to your goal

Thanks for helping me figure that out!

JD :: You have a Gerry the Giraffe book that is coming up in December. Tell me about the book. Where can people buy it?
JM :: Thanks!  Yes, I am illustrating Gerry the Giraffe, a children’s book written by Melissa Northway.  It’s a sweet tale of a young giraffe who wants to be better at volleyball (as all giraffes play volleyball).  He works hard, gets strong and grows into a great player. It will be available as a storybook app on itunes and as an ebook for the Sony Read, Kindle or Nook.  Eventually it will also be available in print form through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Jennifer Mercede
The illustrating process has been quite challenging for me. When I typically hit a canvas, I am free and spontaneous.  I have had to coax that side of me out while working on this book. I’ve asked Melissa for motivation kicks in the pants several times and I’ve even rented a separate studio just to have space to focus on this project. Posted on its walls are notes to myself: "Make art how you want to make art!" and "Yes!!!  I can do this!" as well as, "Relax…" Even though it's hard, I fully want to do this project. It’s a challenge and an awesome experience, as someday I would like to write and illustrate my own stories. I like illustrating and want to develop my unique style, so its important I stay true to my voice as an artist and not fall into what I think a storybook should look like.

Please stay tuned for an official release date which will most likely be early next year. In the meantime, you can check out Animals Wild, a book my friend Jason Holmberg and I put together a couple years ago.

JD :: The song that will usually get you up and dancing is ...
JM ::
Ooh!  Something by Michael Jackson, like Bad or Beat It. Ow!

JD :: Nature and animals. They seem to be highly important to your work. What is it about animals and nature that inspire you?
JM :: My favorite type of art to create is abstract, completely wild and free. However, at one point I grabbed an animal book from the library and began sketching some. Just for fun. A friend saw a sketch of a giraffe and asked if I’d paint him a large one. Sure thing! I answered, and got right on it.  As I was painting that one, another friend saw it in my studio and commissioned a giraffe for her boyfriend. Before I gave it to her, I hung it in a show with a note that said not for sale, but will take commissions. I received three.

After striking that show, I was carrying the art and made a pit stop at a store I where I sold. The owner saw the giraffes and insisted I do a giraffe show. And so it serendipitously began.  I started making giraffes like crazy. They flew off the shelves (who knew?)! Eventually I began to make other animals as well.

Animals and flowers provide something people can relate to in my art. I love to combine my natural abstract tendencies with funky, whimsical animals. Even when I draw the animals, or anything representational for that matter, my goal is to maintain my doodling, like I’m doing abstract work.  Often times I do not look at my paper, just the image from which I’m drawing. I am inspired by the colors and soft shapes of plants and prefer to draw them from life.

Vintage Flowers

JD :: Tell us something that very few people know about you.
JM :: I like math. In fact, I think creating a successful piece of art is equivalent to solving a math problem.

JD :: I imagine your studio to be large ... with paint on concrete flooring. Do I have it right? Describe it for me.
JM :: Oh geez ... you are right. It's in the basement of the house I live in. Honestly, it's not that exciting and I definitely have studio envy of other artists (eh hem ... Flora Bowley), as well as dreams of what older established artists have, out in the country somewhere, in a finished barn, with skylights and woodfloors. Sigh …

Mine is in the basement. In the winter, it becomes an island due to flooding. I’ve enjoyed painting in the basement because I feel like there I can be messy. Plus, its away from my bedroom, and other people. It can be my own creative zone. And honestly, I think I like the lighting (I think). I moved into this basement about a year ago and I’ve never quite set it up. It’d like to invite Kelly Rae Roberts over to help me, as she is amazing at making any space look like love. But I haven’t. I just keep operating in its chaos, its messiness and its plain basementness.

JD :: When it's blazing hot, what is your beverage of choice?
JM :: Water with lemon.  Sometimes with ice, sometimes without. Strangely, more often without these days.

JD :: When it's freezing cold, what is your beverage of choice?
JM :: Tea. Usually herbal, but my favorite is The Republic of Tea’s Mango Ceylon, a fruity black tea.

JD :: Think fast and tell me a word or two that comes to mind when I say ...

  • Portland :: here 
  • little girl :: fun 
  • jump rope :: heartbeat 
  • pink :: hot 
  • butterfly :: circles 
  • rules :: break
  • action :: work
  • inaction :: annoying
  • audience :: laughter
  • giraffe :: ha ha ha, of course
  • stripes :: fun to draw
  • heritage :: Italian
  • little boy :: cute
  • school :: homework
  • solo :: quiet
  • group :: silly
  • family :: warm

JD :: What have you/do you learn from kids?
JM :: Oh Geez! Kids are the master artists. Think about how when young kids are writing a word and they come to the edge of the paper.

With no space left, they simply finish the word below. Or sometimes above. Their letters can be backwards, or upside down or even missing a letter. Maybe they will go back and add the letter in, or scribble out a backwards letter and write it correctly above the old one. There is such a freedom in that.

As I witness kids create so freely, I am inspired to be in that zone myself. Perhaps it is a detachment from the outcome. Perhaps it’s a degree of carelessness or lack of attention span. Either way, its honesty allows the creation to be organic, raw and in the moment, which is what I strive for. I strive to create beauty out of the imperfection and mistakes that is life, wabi sabi style.


All images provided courtesy of Jennifer Mercede. To learn more about her art, visit www.jennifermercede.com and her etsy shop here.

GIVEAWAY :: In art, how do you define "street"?

Through the process of ths interview, the concept of how one defines "street" in art became a point of great interest, both to the interviewer and interviewee. To explore the concept further, we would like to hear from you ... in art, how do you define the concept of "street"? Please leave your answer by commenting on this post (by Friday, November 11th, 5PM, PST). We will select one random commenter who will be able to select one of the three originals shown here, from Jennifer's frog series. Each is an original 6" x 6" paint and pencil work on canvas.

Jennifer Mercede

EDIT :: Congratulations to Jani Howe, winner of our giveaway!


October 16, 2011

Legato :: Cori Dantini

Legato :: In a manner that is smooth and connected
by Jenny Doh 

When Cori Dantini was a student at Washington State University, her classes taught her how much she loves to make things. She eventually graduated in 1992 with a major in painting and a minor in printmaking. In addition to her coursework, Cori worked long hours outside of the classroom, in assorted jobs. "I think in my final year of college I carried 18 credits and worked 30 hours a week as a shop girl and a waitress," she says. "Having to do that taught me that I could do anything. I still believe it." This confidence has helped Cori dive into a career as an artist where she creates exquisite works that sing ... some that are playful, and others that are more somber.
Cori Dantini
JD :: When I view your work, I see spritely and definite but in some pieces, I also see somber and pensive. Do you think the mood that you are in affects the mood that your works cast?
CD :: That would be a resounding yes. I live in a dichotomy, one where I am unfailingly optimistic, yet ... tormented by a fairly clear vision of what is going on around me (which a lot of the time isn't what I would like it to be). This characteristic of mine makes me pensive and somber (and HIGHLY AWARE of what it is that I am seeing, and not loving) which is why some of my girls are looking off into the distance, as if they are looking past that moment and at something that is taking them away from the now. Maybe a memory or a plan or a distant dream even.
Cori DantiniJD :: With all your work, I see exquisite workmanship. And it makes me imagine that it just flows out of your hands like butter without too much angst. Do I have it right?
CD :: What a nice thing to say Jenny, thank you. And yes you do, you have it quite right. The images flow right out of my hand (although on some days, they do much better work than others.)
JD :: The skirts that your girls wear, and the buns that you put their hair in ... I bet that there are many in the viewing audience who want to own skirts like those, and fix their hair into buns like those. How do you react to that?
CD :: I would love to dress like my paper ladies, but in truth I am WAY too practical! I mean for real! I am either in the studio covered in ink and glue OR sitting behind the computer for weeks on end (alone), but in my dream world I want those skirts and buns too! (I also want the tights, boots and the striped shirts.)
Cori DantiniJD :: So lots of folks say that faces are the hardest to draw. For this reason, many folks who draw avoid drawing faces. Did you ever avoid drawing faces or did it just come naturally? Or did it come after much practice?
CD :: I wish I could say it came easy, but it all came together with repetition and time (when I think of some of my earlier "faces" I cringe!) So I say right now, and I say it loudly ... anyone can draw a face. It may take 10 years to do it well — but if you care to do it, you can.
  Cori DantiniJD :: Tell me about when you first fell in love with ledger paper and how that became such an integral part of your works.
CD :: I am not sure I can nail that down. All I know is I have been a collector of old paper and books for years. I bought them originally thinking I would use them in 3-D mixed media pieces (which I never did), and then one day when I was on etsy, I saw a little drawing go by in the live feed that was done on a dictionary page. It was right then that I realized what I should be doing with all that paper of mine! It was a very exciting day. The other thing I really love about using the vintage papers, is the level of background detail that they bring to the table. I love that someone else has held that paper and poured their thoughts out onto it, in their own hand. PLUS I love how random the words appear. I suppose a better way to think of it would be to say, I love what is left over from the original handwriting once my work covers most of it up. Again, I don't really plan this, so it is always a surprise when I look down at the end and realize that there is some fragment of a thought dancing on the page, this (I think) makes my work have more meaning. (Now it doesn't always happen like that, but when it does it is very exciting). PLUS- I love to think of that handwriting as our internal daily background thoughts, you know the lists we make, the math we do- the thoughts we quietly have ALL day long which no one ever knows about. I guess I sort of think of it as our minds white noise
Cori Dantini
JD :: And tell me about your process ... is it pen to paper, and then watercolors then collage? Do you feed the paper through the printer at all? Do you ever use pencil and eraser?
CD :: It goes a little something like this. I paper the wooden cradle, OR I use papers of my ow creation (the papering process is very organic and I never plan it out). After I have the paper down, I do a little pencil drawing (again no plan). I then ink it in, and add the watercolor. After everything is dry I use calligraphy inks, copic markers, colored pencils ... you name it and I will use it. (No one will ever call me a purist!) At some point during the process I look at the piece as a whole and decide if I need more layers of paper, and if I decide I do, I get out the PVA glue and lay them down. Then (shhhh, don't tell), I finish up with my favorite thing of all: a white power paint sharpie. It is not until the very end, that I look at the piece and see the whole. It is at this point where I start looking for words, and meaning, and somehow (as if by magic) there is often a greater message floating around in the piece. I love this part.
  I am bringing my listening heart
JD :: So today, when you woke up, what did you have for breakfast? Is that what you usually have?
CD :: Coffee, and then some more coffee. Followed by even more coffee (and a homemade oat bran muffin). The coffee part is always true. The eating part is always changing.
JD :: Tomorrow, when you wake up, you discover there is no more paper available. Nowhere. So now what? What materials would you turn to to continue creating your heart's desire?
CD :: I think I would go back to oil painting (it is what I studied in college), and I would work on wood not canvas. Although, I have been collecting doodads for going on 20 years now, so maybe I would bust into making shadow boxes and finally putting all the flotsam and jetsam I have been storing for years and years to a good use.
Cori DantiniJD :: Finish this sentence: "Aside from my art, two things that I really enjoy doing are ..."
CD :: ... sitting on a rocky beach, listening to the waves while pouring over all the rocks. I could do this all day and never get bored. I also like trying new things, and when I say new things it could be just about anything from a new painting technique to trying different types of black licorice. (My latest try was  really salty, and delicious!) I have also been known to really enjoy a good tour, my latest favorite was a tour of the Derby House at the Salem Maritime National Park, it was fascinating (and I am a geek at heart).
JD :: Who is the person or people who understand you most?
CD :: This is the hardest question for me because I don't think of myself as being a very complicated person. Not to say that I am not ... but you can always count on me to tell it like I see it (for good or bad), and I also tend to share way too much info. So ... in my mind I am a fairly easy person to know. 
  Cori DantiniJD :: Who is the person or people who will probably never understand you?
CD :: Sadly, it is probably my dad. I don't think two people could sit on more opposite sides of everything, and I say that with a sad little sigh ... but it is true.  What is also true is that we love each other very much, and because of that, I am okay with not being understood (and not understanding). 
JD :: Tell me about how you grew up ... with papers and paints always near you? With creative parents and siblings?
CD :: When I was little I had a big old can of crayons that I LOVED  (especially the pink one, which my mom showed me how to rub on my finger and then rub on the paper to make peoples cheeks look blushed). When she taught me how to do this it was a real turning point for me because it was the first time I understood the potential of what a humble supply could do. As for being surrounded by creative people ... I really wasn't. 
  Oh hello old memories
JD :: I know you are a fan of the concept of standing up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone. When have you stood alone?
CD :: I am a big truth teller. I believe in saying the hard things and pointing out the uncomfortable ... and that often leaves me standing alone, especially when I talk with my dad about politics!
JD :: Think fast and give me a word or two when I say ...
  • birdcage
    • *sad sigh*
  • Washington
    • home
  • red
    • accent
  • David Bowie
    • genius
  • Kiki's
    • delivery service
  • alphabet
    • necessary
  • paper
    • potential
  • yarn
    • knit
  • fabric
    • sew
  • quilt
    • grandma
  • coffee
    • yummy
  • dots
    • favorite
  • circle
    • O!
  • deadlines
    • a challenge
  • water
    • momentum
  • ponytail
    • practical
Sowing dreams
JD :: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being pristine clean and 10 being out of control, what number is your studio most of the time?
CD :: It depends on what I am doing. If I am in the studio for real ...  painting and making stuff,  the studio lives at a 6-8. I don't really ever hit a 9 or 10 because I always know where everything is — and a 10 to me means not knowing where anything is because it is buried  (I never ever let it get to that point because it would drive me NUTS)! Otherwise I would say the studio sort of maintains itself at a level 3 or 4, organized and tidy, but not super clean. Super clean lasts for about 5 minutes in my studio.

All images provided courtesy of Cori Dantini. To learn more about Cori's art and life, visit http://coridantinimakes.blogspot.com/.

October 09, 2011

Legato :: Simon Schubert

 Legato :: In a manner that is smooth and connected

by Jenny Doh
Plain white paper is what Simon Schubert uses to create his art. Creases and folds are made on the paper causing shadows to emerge, as magnificent rooms, faces, and scenes come alive. Each piece exudes simplicity and complexity—much like the works of Samuel Beckett—the author who has been the longtime inspiration for this German-based paper artist.
Untitled(large staircase), 2008,100cmx75cm
JD :: How did it begin? Your journey of creasing and folding paper?
SS :: The first paper-folding I did was a portrait of Samuel Beckett. I was trying to make a portrait on different levels. The folds in the paper resemble the wrinkles in the face and the reduction of the materiality and the working process applies to the literature of Samuel Beckett, as well as the fading into white. Beckett remains very important for my work, but there are also other important influences from architecture, philosophy and mathematics. Before starting with paper-folding, I was doing large sculptures.
Portrait Samuel Beckett1,100x75,2009 excel
JD :: Tell me a bit about your upbringing. Was it a home filled with creativity that you grew up in?
SS :: The opposite. I grew up in a boring 70s suburb of Cologne. My father was a tax consultant and my mother was working in a pharmacy. Art and creativity wasn't very important.
Untitled(hallways with mirrors),2010,90x 70 cm ex
JD :: There's something haunting about your works. Perhaps because many feel like empty houses. Like ghosts might appear. Is this your intent? How do you feel that a viewer has this reaction?
SS :: I don't want to shock or frighten people. One of the things that is interesting to me is to find pictures that describe something vanishing or the fear of things vanishing. The thought that everything is always at the point of vanishing is frightening in a way and if you work about this, it gets haunting anyway.

  Untitled(mirrors and mirrors),2010,75cmx100cmexJD :: Have you ever creased and folded colored paper?
SS :: I've tried this sometimes but the color takes away the shadow in some way. I've done some black works and they are very nice. They have a different qulity than the white ones but they are not that special. White paper is my favorite material by far.

Untitled(Erasmus chapel), 2011,100x75cm ex
JD :: I understand that you are inspired by Samuel Beckett, for which reasons I can't fully explain, make complete sense. His works were minimal and complex at the same time, I think ... much like your works. Have you thought of Beckett during your creative process?
SS :: As I wrote above, his works are actually the reason for me starting with the paperworks. Probably the first twenty works had a direct connection to some texts or rooms or images from the texts. Later, other influences became important also, but still Beckett remains an important influence to my work.

Untitled(staircase with figure)2010,100x75cm ex

JD :: Think fast and say one or two words that come to mind when I say ...

  • London :: calling
  • museum :: what's this?
  • paper :: I'm loving it
  • fingernails :: don't chew them
  • paint :: Bacon
  • breakfast :: Ham
  • snow :: Dash
  • fear :: Angst
  • Godot :: Estragon
  • Max Ernst :: Die Jungfrau züchtigt das Jesuskind vor drei Zeugen
  • clay :: Cassius
  • telephone :: no connection
  • money :: to burn
  • America :: NYC
  • Donald Trump :: the most unimportant person to me
  • 1976 :: good year

Untitled(mirrored hallways),2007,180 cm x 125 cmexcel

JD :: When a piece isn't going well, or when you make a crease that is unintended, what happens to it? Does it go into the trash?
SS :: Most of the times, it is lost. Only if it is a very small mistake I can restore the work.


JD :: I'd love to know about your typical day, and the people in your life. What is your day like? Who are the people you interact with? Who do you love?
SS :: I start working when my kids go to school and most of the time I work until the afternoon or evening. My studio is in the same house where I live. My wife and kids are the people I love and with whom I spend the most of my time. 

Untitled(Sternsaal), 2011,75x100cm ex JD :: What is the one thing that you know for sure?
SS :: There is probably nothing you can really be sure of. Everything could be just in your mind.

All images are provided courtesy of Simon Schubert. To learn more, visit www.simonschubert.de.

August 14, 2011

Legato :: Kathryn Clark

Legato :: in a manner that is smooth and connected
by Jenny Doh
In fifth grade, Kathryn Clark learned about how cool colors recede in a painting and warm colors come forward. Soon after, her parents took her to her aunt's art gallery in Atlanta (McIntosh Gallery) and she saw a painting that did just that. "And it clicked," says Kathryn. "I still have a picture of me standing in the gallery, completely blown away by all of this at age 12. I decided then and there that I would be a painter."
And paint she did. And then photography she did also. Now, Kathryn has landed in a spot where she dances with layers of fabric and hand stitches. It's a place that feels right ... and where she intends to stay for a long while.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Tell me how you feel about the color red. What does it do to a piece when you add it, even in very small doses?
KC :: Red is not one of my favorite colors but I often find it's necessary for the pieces I'm working on as a counterpoint to my soft tones. My current foreclosure series uses it a lot because of its connotations. Foreclosed lots are usually shown in red on foreclosure maps. It also references being financially 'in the red'.
JD :: Is the ability to achieve balance in a piece something that is intuitive or something that can be taught and learned?
KC :: I have no idea if it can be taught or learned as it's always been with me since I can remember. I know it's incredibly important in my work and I seem to have a strange ability to know when something is off by a hair. My father, who is an architect, sees things similarly so perhaps he taught me. I'm left-handed and I sometimes wonder if right-handed people see my work as more imbalanced.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: So your background is in painting and photography. Tell us how that experience has influenced and informed the work that you currently do with fabrics and sewing.
KC :: I did photography for a long time mostly to explore the medium since my grandfather and uncle were/are professional photographers. I remember as a kid spending hours at my grandparent's photography studio thinking I would never take photographs and then found myself obsessed with it in my 20's and 30's. I think I just had to explore this medium that was so interesting to other members of my family. I took mostly black and white photos with few people because they highlighted abstract forms and textures. With regard to painting, I realize in retrospect that I spent many years trying to create fabric constructions and textures in my paintings before I changed to fiber. It was such a relief to have found textiles, I feel like I've come home.
Kathryn Clark JD :: There is something so deeply soothing and calming about the simplicity of your work ... as it helps clear the mind so that singular themes or ideas can be considered in a more concentrated level. I suppose this is the appeal of minimalism. Have you always been attracted to clean and simple or did you ever go through a phase of busy and compex?
KC :: I have never been interested in busy or complex images or design. I grew up with two posters in our living room that were my parent's favorite art works. A Georgia O'keefe chosen by my mother and a Jackson Pollack that my father chose. I hated the Jackson Pollack growing up. In my 20's I drove out to Ghost Ranch to honor the influence O'keefe's work had on me when I was a child.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: It looks like hand stitching is what you use for most of the works we see. Do you also ever work with a sewing machine?
KC :: I do have a sewing machine and when I show it to other textile artists they laugh hysterically and tell me to upgrade. I won't even say what it is, let's just say I can do basic sewing on it. Hence, the reason I mostly hand sew! Honestly, I love the look of handsewn work so much more. It's important to show the imperfections of handsewing in my foreclosure series since these pieces are supposed to look fragile and irregular.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Tell me about the fabrics you use. Where do you get them? Do you ever dye or treat them?
KC :: I find my fabrics everywhere. I buy them new online and in local discount stores. I find a lot them at our local artist's scrap center (we have a great one here with bolts and bolts of donated fabric). Friends have given me some amazing fabrics too. I also cut up my daughter's old clothing which peeves her tremendously! I often bleach or tea stain the pieces to create as much irregularity as possible for my pieces. I'm currently working on natural dyeing recipes from India Flint's book Eco Color.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Is it in the daylight when you do most of your work?
KC :: I can really focus during the day when my daughter is in school from 9-3, those are my regular studio hours I try my best to keep. But I will work at night as well when I'm on a roll.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Your Repetition Series uses repetition and layering to make such a beautiful impact. And you state that the "beauty lies in the visual intertwining of this process." I suppose this could be a commentary about life and relationships and its many layers. Tell us about some of the lessons you learned by creating this series.
KC :: I'm a very impatient person, as I think a lot of us are these days. I learned from making this series that I really loved the slow repetitive process of making, adding layer after layer. It forced me to slow down and pay attention to every variation I made and celebrate it. But really, the biggest lesson I learned from the Repetition series was that I needed to work in fiber! What better way to enjoy the process of slowly making something than sewing?
Kathryn Clark
JD :: I love the Side Stitch series. The strong and bold colors. You describe them as side stitches, which I interpret as a "parentheses" or "sidebar" or "footnote" to your main work, is that right?
KC :: It feels, though that by giving attention to matters that are on the side, that they become much more important and deserving notice. I really enjoyed working on this series with Kitty Kilian, an artist from the Netherlands who has become a wonderful online friend. She came up with the great name 'side stitch'. You're absolutely right, these works were a sidebar to our main work. And they did become great inspirations for my main series at the time, the Idiom Series.
JD :: Think fast and tell me a word or two that come to mind when I say the following:
  • remnants
    • tattered
  • orange
    • blue
  • edge
    • selvedge
  • coffee
    • tea
  • Japan
    • aesthetic
  • seed
    • natural beauty
  • sheer
    • subtle
  • black-and-white
    • my cat, Jacques
  • storm
    • rolling thunder
  • dinner
    • locavore
  • mountain
    • vista
  • San Francisco
    • fog!
  • inhabit
    • space
  • slate
    • my sunroom floor
JD :: You are involved with collaborations. What does collaborative work give you and give the art you make that cannot be achieved when working alone? What are the pros and cons of either approach?
KC :: I love having collaborations with other artists. I have the chance to learn from other artists, different ways of seeing, making, thinking. Knowing how another artist works allows both of us to help each other out in the future when we hit bumps in our own work. Working with someone different pushes my comfort boundaries forcing me to see things in a new way and encourages me to take more risks in my own work. I really do love working alone though so the collaborations only take about 20% of my time in the studio. So far, I can't think of a negative to any collaborations that I've had. They've been great experiences for me.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Finish this sentence: "I create because if I didn't ...
KC :: I wouldn't be true to myself and be the best person I can be.

JD :: Finish this sentence: "Art is ...
KC :: life

JD :: Finish this sentence: "Craft is ...
KC :: meditative

JD :: Finish this sentence: "Articraft is ...
KC :: a rare breed

JD :: So if you were first a painter and photographer and now you are a stitcher, what might be the thing you are into say 5-7 years from now? Any guesses?
KC :: I've wondered this often since I delved into fiber. I think I'm here to stay in the fiber world. My work might branch into more installation but I suspect I will continue to work with fiber for a long time. It just feels so right to me.
Kathryn Clark
JD :: Do your family and friends "get it" in terms of understanding and cheering on the work you do?
KC :: It's hard to say. My artist friends and family 'get it' but there are certainly quite a few who aren't artists who don't get it, but that's fine. I'm just happy that most have come around that this is my profession. Art as a career isn't taken too seriously here in the States. My work often deals with subtle color and my husband happens to be red-green colorblind so I think he misses a bit of what I do, especially the use of red in my work. My six year old daughter thinks my work is cool. I often find her making 'foreclosure' drawings in her sketchbooks which I find pretty amazing.
JD :: On a typical day, what's the first thing you do when you rise and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
KC :: I make myself a cup of black tea first thing or I am not a functioning person. I love to read in bed for a few minutes every night to wind down and settle in.
JD :: What is the book that you are currently reading in bed these days?
KC :: A wonderful one ... The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt. I've become fascinated with local small-scale farming in the past year. It might turn up as a future series somehow but this is my early research.
All images shown here are courtesy of Kathryn Clark. Visit www.kathrynclark.com to learn more.
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