wMM Woman / No. 1
Rachel, Artist / Manhattan, NY
So...oil painting and you...how did that happen?
Well I've always loved to draw. I've been drawing since I was very little. But I was introduced to oils for the first time in an undergrad elective and just fell in love with the medium. It's juicy and luscious and the possibilities are infinite. I also love to take my time, to build up my work in layers, and oil is forgiving in that way...no decision has to be immediate or permanent. That's sort of a blessing and a curse, though, isn't it? I never know when to call a piece finished.
What are some of the challenges and rewards of being a painter/artist?
I think the easiest and hardest part of this career choice is being my own boss. You guys experience the same thing, I'm sure, as entrepreneurs. Without external deadlines, without someone at the studio, or office, noticing or even caring whether you are there on time or there at all, it's tough. It requires a kind of self-discipline that I don't always possess. Having a studio mate helps a lot in that regard. It holds you accountable.
Is your artistic process different from start to finish with each painting you begin?
There are more technical aspects, like priming a canvas for example, that remain pretty consistent from one work to the next. But as far as the idea for each painting, whatever crazy place that comes from, it can vary quite a bit. And the arc of each piece, from start to finish, is totally different. In some cases I have a pretty clear idea before I begin of what I want the final product to look like. Other times I just see where it takes me. Regardless, it can be a bit tumultuous--I hate it then I love it then I hate it again and try to destroy it, but then I regret that and try to salvage it, then I give up and hide it, work on something else, and then eventually I dig it up and do all that all over again. That sounds very dramatic! I'm not throwing brushes at the wall or anything. But I do get pretty emotional along the way!
The subject matter of your paintings ranges quite a lot. How would you say your work or the subject matter of your work has evolved thus far?
I'm still experimenting quite a bit. Constantly, in fact. I don't know that there's an obvious cohesion throughout my work, that's not something I've achieved yet, but also not something I'm sure I should be striving for in the first place... at least not consciously. Often it is only in retrospect that I can see the thread. But I'm evolving daily, because I'm learning, and trying to get better, daily. Each painting brings a set of problems you have to solve. I've never managed to do it. Every so often I'll solve one, but then more just pop up. The hard part is forcing yourself to stop, to call a piece done, even if it doesn't have all the answers. That's where viewers come in. You just have to find the audience who likes your attempt at an answer.
Many of your paintings seem to be little moments in time that stood out to you. What is your best advice for embracing and living in the moment?
I like to keep an eye out for the little things. There is no subject too small or insignificant to paint. It's hard not to get swept up in our responsibilities each day but it's so rewarding to take breaks, too. We recently adopted a puppy who's helped a lot in this way. Everything is new to her, and everything is so exciting. I've never been so aware of every little object on the sidewalk as I am now, especially in trying to keep her from putting all of it in her mouth...but that's another story. I guess I'm saying everyone should get a puppy?!
What is your favorite place in the world and why?
What a great question. For me it's way more important who I'm with than where I am. Inside a closet would be my favorite place if my friends were there, too. So I would probably say home, since that's where my guy and my dog are most often. Cheesy!
Where do you go or what do you do to decompress, ground yourself?
I'm a New Yorker through and through. A long, destination-less walk is always the answer.
What is your favorite piece of clothing or accessory and why?
I would have to go with that black handbag you see me wearing every day. It's just magic. There's no end to how much it can fit, and yet it still looks the same from the outside. It's like the clown car of purses.
Final thoughts or shout-out?
You guys! Thank you. So happy to have you in the studio.