I was invited by Chicago’s uber-talented encaustic artist Kari Hall to join in on this blog hop project. The project consists of answering some questions regarding art and my art process as well as to highlight other artists whom I admire and share them with you! First are my answers to the questions asked of me for the blog hop project:
1.) What am I working on/writing?
I am currently working on a large encaustic and oil painting on birch panel. At 48×48, it is the largest piece I’ve ever attempted. “A Shot in the Arm” is inspired by the Wilco song of the same title. I love using titles from other creative mediums to inspire ideas in my art, and Wilco’s music consistently lends itself to many interpretations and visual approaches. I’ve lived with this piece for over a year. I pass it in the hallway each morning, and it speaks to me – usually something along the lines of “When are you going to finish me?” Two weeks ago I tossed it back on the workbench, and I expect to post the real finished piece in the next day or so. I’m finding that painting is a much more exploratory adventure than I ever imagined.
My work is very conceptual. For example, I have an idea to create an entire series of paintings based on the music of R.E.M. In fact, I’ve already gone so far as to narrow their extensive 30-year catalogue down to the 16 songs that will be featured in the series.
2.) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
My work reflects my lifelong fascination with photography, art, movies, music, numbers, Americana, story-telling, and the desire to capture and share visually arresting images from the most unlikely places. To my eyes, a deserted property or rusty sign can be every bit as interesting as a sunset – and it’s my hope that through my work I can inspire others to see the world around them in exciting new ways.
It all begins with an image. However, photography is but one medium, and the camera just one of many tools used in a creative process that includes beeswax, resin, acrylic paint, and found objects applied to birch wood panels. Finished works include large single panels as well as multi-image storyboards – like “Circus!” – that combine narrative and impressionistic elements – thus insuring each viewer enjoys their own unique interpretive experience.
3.) Why do I do what I do?
It’s in my blood. Every fiber of my being longs to create. Finding the right medium has always been the challenge for me. My natural parents were both musicians, and my mother also painted.
There was always music in the air and creative people in our home during my early childhood. The loss of my parents during my childhood left a creative vacuum in my life for decades. I loved music, but had no talent for it. I dabbled with writing, but my limited attention span ensured that the only thing I was good at creating was a pile of unfinished novels and screenplays. So, I guess the short answer is this: I create visual art because of ADD – or whatever the appropriate acronym is for my undiagnosed limitation. Then again, maybe it is simple laziness. In any case, painting and photography allows me to go from initial concept to a finished work in days rather than months.
4.) How does my writing/working process work?
My most creative and productive time in the studio occurs when I set the most enjoyable environment: a bright, sunny day, an early start, windows and blinds open, beeswax melting, and my favorite music in the air. I prefer working in natural light – which can be a challenge given that every window in my home studio is on the north side. I can’t emphasize the music enough. An eclectic mix of old favorites from the 60’s and 70’s and newer alternative rock playing at an agreeable level always brings out the best in me. Marti Somers invited to her work space, Studio Believe, a few years ago. I loved the environment she created for herself to maximize her enjoyment of just being there in that space where ideas were allowed to come from anywhere. We’re kindred spirits in that way, and once she dipped my fingers in beeswax I was sold. If I have any advice to share with other artists who, like me, are just getting started on their journey, it’s this: create the environment you wish to create in first – and by environment I am referring to physical, mental, and emotional space. I don’t know who first said this, but I like it:
“Art is not a thing, it is a way”
As for my photography, I enjoy urban photo safaris. It’s rare that you’ll find me at the beach or the mountains with a camera, because I know I’ll never shoot a photo of the ocean, a sunset, or any other naturally beautiful location that will improve upon the work that nature has already done. What I do best is street photography and urban landscapes – subjects where I might be able to help find the beauty amid the blighted and mundane landscapes that we drive past every day without taking notice. Every day I walk out my front door I see the world as a potpourri of visual opportunity.
I want to thank Kari Hall for inviting me to participate in this project. It was an honor to be featured in her blog! It was a rewarding experience to think about and answer these questions about my work. I especially loved reading her answers posted on her blog last week. Read it here…
The artist I have selected to share with you is Giselle Gautreau. I discovered her work shortly after I began painting a few years ago, and was thrilled to learn she lived in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains here on the California coast. A visit to her mountain studio comes complete with breathtaking views of the natural settings that obviously inspire her work. She is a loving, generous person, wonderful mother, and as down to earth as one is ever likely to find in someone so prodigiously talented.
Giselle Gautreau is an artist who works in oil and encaustic paints. Influenced by personal observation of the landscape around her, Giselle’s paintings are atmospheric and luminous.
Giselle works in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. She lives with her family, dogs, chickens and is a backyard beekeeper. Bees, nature and landscape are recurring themes in her work.
Born and raised in Massachusetts and Vermont, Giselle is from a French-Canadian family. She studied painting and printmaking at Maine College of Art, where she received her BFA. Giselle went on to obtain her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts.
Giselle has received awards for her work, including a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Her paintings are included in private and corporate collections and has completed many commissions. Giselle’s work is currently represented by Hang Art Gallery in San Francisco, CA. She’s currently working on a solo exhibit at Hang Art scheduled for January, 2015.