You studied color at university, and your palette is very distinctive. What is your approach to color? What were you hoping to do with your degree in Color Studies?
Originally, I really wanted to major in painting, but due to my circumstances at the time, I majored in makeup for my undergraduate degree. In graduate school I went on to study personal color and color science. As a result, I worked in cosmetology for 10 years. Naturally, I look closely at a person's face, and over time I came to realize that color suits each person is different depending on their environment and psychological state. I also learned that color and psychology are inextricably linked. As a result, my craving for painting grew more and more, and now I have brought it into my practice - color is an important part of my paintings.
How long have you been painting? Who are your major influences?
Although I studied art as a young girl, I have been focused on painting this style for the past year and a half. At first, I was able to express my complex thoughts with face illustrations, and naturally came to a form with arms, legs, and torso. The influence of my paintings is me. I express the feeling of the moment and my condition in the most honest way, and I don’t want to hide it, so I project it into the picture.
Your paintings are heavily psychological, representing extreme emotional states, and yet they are also quite figurative and composed. It’s like there’s manifestations of the unconscious, but also a regulating order. What do you understand about the psychological aspect of your work?
A person like me changes from disorderly and complex thoughts to frame the world around them. One struggle I try to convey is to accept change and a longing for mental and physical freedom. I express this in my paintings. When I draw, I place importance on color, background, shape and emotion of the person, and layout. As a result, like the methods and rules of the Tetris game, random sticks coming down from the top are regularly fitted into the frame, and the complex background (to the world) expresses the desire to show that I stand out or coexist.
Your figures often have a dotted border and a dot on their faces? What do these accents mean for you? Are they symbolic or merely decorative?
I really like the dots and freckles on the face. I like the feeling of touching a ball. In my drawings there are always dots. Dots show differences in my drawings and signify change. Similar to the dotted line, it is an expression used to express salience and outstandingness. Even if there are no dotted lines in my drawing, there are always dots. Location or size doesn't matter. I think the thing that is unique to me, not the ordinary, stems from the desire to stand out.
You paint long, spindly hands, and a lot of your figures have only two or three limbs. This makes them somewhat abject, like maimed animals, but also adds to their appeal and mystery. What do you think about the body parts of your figures?
I want to let go of my limbs. My arms and legs symbolize heaviness, I use them by expressing different personalities and various moods by overlapping my complex thoughts on the faces I draw. There is no need to have two limbs, I want to break the rules of beauty set by the world. As long as I have just one limb to express freedom and make me known, that's enough. I think the meaning of “do what you want to do” has come to mean a lot so far as the body is concerned. I like to express motions that are impossible in reality, this results in drawing different human proportions, often those found in animals. There is a cat that appears often in my drawings, and although it has a human form, it also reflects the psychological part by comparing the inner heart and body to a cat.
Your paintings are one-dimensional and have prominent backgrounds. Some of your backgrounds are just one or two solid colors, while others are complex: patterned with checkerboard or lines or chaotic scribbles. What do backgrounds mean in your approach to composition?
The background is the world in which my present and past psychology are compressed and expressed. However, this world is not constant. Sometimes it is standardized as a single color, but when complexity fills up, it is expressed by giving variety to the color. In addition, graffiti expresses my noisy surroundings and compares the pain of my childhood to games, numbers, pyramids, dotted lines, circles, and X marks, recalling my unhappy childhood and expressing hope.
Many of your figures are half-animal or surrounded by animals, so they bring up questions of the human/animal divide. What do you want to express about the animality of humans (or vice versa)?
I never thought of separating people from animals. I want to reflect on the symbolism that stands out in the images and actions of certain animals. Cats often appear in my paintings, but in fact, I am afraid of cats. But to me, cats are queens and kings. I admire the freedom that comes from the strong, hard-to-reach, yet flexible gestures of cats. Cats have what I long for, something I am missing. I'm still obsessed with cats, but I don't know when that will change again. I change from moment to moment, and my thoughts are always on my tail, and I am also curious about what kind of creature I will meet at the end of my thoughts, and it is a task that I work to express.
Click Here ︎ to see Yool’s work.
Interview by Christian Prince.
Your style, especially in your figures, can appear cartoonish, but it also has this rough realism, like in your depiction of Mickey Mouse, where you humanize him with small eyes and dark circles. How would you describe your style?
No clue. Trying to describe what I do, or even how or why I like something is really hard for me. I’m horrible at expressing myself verbally. That’s why I enjoy painting. I can sit there and spend a week or two on a single image or thought, taking one image I like and then painting it in the colors I think compliment it, tediously painting and repainting it until I feel like it is a coherent thought.
I wish every conversation I ever had could be more like that. The first time I try and express a thought, it always comes out all jumbled and non-sensical, like I’m just stringing together random sentences.
I wish I could go back and layer in new words, sentences, thoughts, ideas until I get something that seems more like a clear expression of myself and my feeling on the subject, ya know?
Your colors are disarming and distinctive. You seem to take familiar, primary colors (blue, red, yellow), and alter them just enough that they become weird and unfamiliar. What role does color play in your compositions?
My style has altered in the last few months, especially in the way I use color, so it’s hard to speak on the way I use composition. I honestly just go with my gut a lot of the time.
Lately, I’ve been starting by painting everything a cool blue then layering warmer colors on top. I usually know what color I want to work around, like in the last cowboy painting I did, I knew I wanted a red shirt and that was it. After that, I just kept changing the colors around until everything seemed balanced. Sometimes in the painting I feel like the color plays a more important role then the image itself.
You paint big and small cats. There’s one painting where a big, gothic black cat is panting over the universe. Do cats hold any sort of totemic significance for you?
Ya, I love cats. I grew up with a lot of animals, dogs, cats, crows, pigeons, snakes, rabbits, lizards, even a possum for a few weeks once; you name it. But I always felt the most connection with my cats. Like when you have a cat as your friend, you know that’s a real friend. That’s your buddy. That cat can be anywhere, do anything it wants. So if it’s hanging out with you it’s because it wants to, because it really loves you. Unlike dogs, I mean I love dogs a lot, but they’re idiots. They just love you because you feed them, and they just need you most of the time. So ya I guess I put cats on a pedestal…they’re cool.
Also they have this vibe like they know something you don’t, Like their third eye is open and they’ve seen through the multi-dimensions stacked ontop of eachother like glass plates playing out every infinite scenario. So they know what could have happened and what’s going to happen and none of it really matters because we’re all just going to be reincarnated as bushes so eat and nap all you like.
Many of your scenes are distinctively American—there’s western scenes with cowboys, and a scene of a woman diving into a motel swimming pool. Do you think about Americana when you paint?
Oh yeah, for sure. I’ve really been leaning into it lately. It’s honestly kinda subliminal to me, not really a cultural criticism or anything. If anything, it’s a critique on the inner workings of my brain. I don’t even realize I’m doing it, like It’s all just so engrained into my brain like some MK ultra shit. I guess that’s a very American thing, being force-fed pop culture, and stories of grandeur. There’s always a single polarized person achieving this hero status through some arbitrary measure of greatness. In that sense, I kind of think the way I usually use a singular image is very American, almost like brand advertising. And what’s more American than advertisement? One singular conglomerate manipulating an image to suit the wants of the consumer to maximize profit. I don’t know what I’m talking about, but yeah, I guess I’m into a type of Americana. Not sure if it’s in the traditional bread and butter sense, but yeah.
Flowers seem to have a tragicomic symbolism in your work, as in the scene where bundles of flowers spill out of a totaled car. Do you see flowers as symbols?
Well, I’ve done flowers before and Im still on the fence about how they look in my paintings. Specifically in the car painting with the flowers spilling out, I wanted to paint these cars being torn inside out. Not really about the car crash itself, but the wreck it leaves behind. I see beauty in the twisted metal. I think a lot of people look at them and think they’re violent, which I didn’t intend for them to be. But yeah, the flowers are kind of symbolic for blood and guts, (haha ok, maybe it is violent), but like if the car was a living creature, as it lay there twisted and broken, the flowers spill out of the passenger side door and pool up under the car.
Watermelons appear in several of your works, and often seem to have a humorous, ironic quality. Water also appears often, although you always paint it abstractly or cartoonishly, or, in the scene with the boat, there’s no water at all. What’s behind your interest in water and watermelons?
I do paint water a lot; that’s kind of an ongoing project. It’s usually not in a fun happy way. I usually associate water with doom and gloom. I think the ocean is the most terrifying thing on the planet. I went in the ocean once and a rip tide started to pull me out then smashed me into a jetty for like 20 minutes. I felt like someone was holding onto my ankles and pulling me down and out. So yeah, I don’t fuck with the ocean anymore.
But when it appears in my paintings it usually has an all-encompassing vibe. There’s no escaping it. It’s rising up and swallowing everything in its path, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at the thing it’s destroying and the how you look at the destroyer. You might think wiping the slate clean is a good thing thing, who knows?
And for the watermelon, I just like the colors and shapes, and how when it’s cut and viewed from different perspectives, it takes completely different forms. I don’t know… it’s a very artistically versatile fruit. You throw a watermelon into any painting and it creates this ambience, I dig it.
Click Here ︎ to see Jacob’s work.
Interview by Christian Prince.
You work between France and the UK. Do you draw from the painting traditions of both countries, or do your inﬂuences come from elsewhere?
I get inspired by many diﬀerent traditions. I collect antique vases and pots, often from ﬂea markets or antique stores from all over the world. I have a fascination for ornaments and various surrealistic objects such as leaf plates, a watermelon letter holder or a lemon salt and pepper shake, these are a few of my own objects. I get inspired a lot by what’s around me and will add a surrealistic twist to it. I also think I kept some inﬂuences that I studied in art history and archaeology. My parents were greengrocers, so I have always been drawn to food and market / garden life.
Some of the objects in your paintings are realist and others more expressionist. What eﬀect do you hope to achieve by this combination of styles?
I don’t like to obey a certain style or composition, I love the freedom I get in my work. I enjoy mixing various inspirations and styles to make it my own.
Your still lifes of ﬂowers in vases have dramatic titles and a strong sense of mood and the passage of time. How do you think the still life form can contain all this emotion and time?
I feel like the fusion between shadow and light is very powerful. The shortness of this moment, waiting for that glowing golden hour to touch the still life. You never know how it’s going to react and it’s never exactly the same. I ﬁnd that fascinating and it deﬁnitely changed the way I work and the way I see light. All my work used to be very 2D and ﬂat, since the last couple of years I’m working more in 3D, thinking of how the composition could feel more voluminous by the use of shadows and various textures.
Your paintings often have strong light sources that create shadows, and sometimes the shadows are exaggerated. What do you convey with shadows?
Depending on where the shadow is coming from, the shadow can be exaggerated or blurred naturally. I chose to interpret it in a more surrealist way. I don’t wish to copy exactly what I see but give it my own interpretation. I usually saturate the palette a lot, to give it a more dramatic aspect.
Some of your compositions have a playful, geometric architecture. Are you referring to a certain modernist architecture? Do you consider your paintings from an architectural perspective?
I play around diﬀerent themes in my work: still lifes with shadows, surrealistic stills, architectural compositions and bathroom scenes. I get inspired by many architects but I’m particularly keen on Luis Barragàn’s work that I discovered some years ago. The way he thinks of lines and colour is amazing and mesmerising. Even in my still lifes with shadows, there’s always a game of lines. The light is depicted in a very straight, angular and architectural way.
What about plant life, and its interaction with vases, interests you? And how does this relate to your interest in water and marine life?
I collect plants, I love watching them grow and the way that they seem to be constantly dancing, in movement. They can also be surprising! During the second lockdown in the UK, I started painting ﬁsh in bowls, unconsciously. I then realised the symbolism behind it. I was myself feeling like a ﬁsh in a bowl, able to see the world but not touch it. I have since been painting many diﬀerent ﬁsh and tried many diﬀerent combinations. My favourite so far remains the ﬁsh vase. This is a theme I am still in constant exploration.
Click Here ︎ to see Cathy’s work.
Interview by Christian Prince.
Saxon JJ Quinn
Where are you from and how did you get into being an artist?
I'm from Australia and currently live in the Northern Rivers with my Wife, daughter and two dogs. I've always been surrounded by art, my mother is an artist and my late father was a designer and painter. Mum has had a home studio/gallery on the family property since I was born, and I've spent many days down there with her. I began to paint after living in NYC for a bit over a year, I returned to Sydney, hired a neighbours garage and started painting as a hobby - this was 2016, from there we moved to Melbourne and it began to snowball - from small group shows to solos etc.
What were you doing before you started painting?
I was a Lead Product Designer, before that I had launched a bunch of startups, and before that I launched a streetpress mag and had some clothing brands.
What are some of your influences?
Family, childhood, friends, weathered clothes/pavements/buildings, my daughter, music and more... generally everyday life.
People seem to be drawn into the dream-like background in sharp contrast to the minimal childlike drawings. Can you explain?
I'm not sure why people are drawn to this, for me, when I see kids drawing or rough doodles on paper, there's no sense of limitation to the imagination or outside pressures put on what's 'real' or 'not' - a dog can have 5 legs and breath fire.. personally I love that.
You are a new Dad, yet seem just as prolific as ever. What is your average day like?
I think Luna has actually helped me free up my creativity a bit and explore the playfulness that I have always wanted to.A typical week day would be:Wake at 5:00am throw on the espresso machine and make a long black, let the dogs out.5:00 - 5:30am send and reply to emails.5:30 drive to the coast for an hour or so surf or gym.7:30 Luna has generally woken then, play with her for a bit, get her changed and take her to the local cafe for a morning coffee.8:30 - 9:30am get into the studio, if my wife is still sleeping Ill take Luna down if Cinthia is awake, she'll take Luna and ill carry on in the studio for the day.I generally will do a run to my local framer through the week a few times, the hardware store and courier.Each day in the actual studio varies a bit, Im either staining lengths of canvas, cutting or working on a few pieces at once for shows and or photographing / editing images.Ill try to be in the studio until 3:00 or 4:00pm, after that Ill take the dogs for a walk, or we might all jump in the car and head to a nearby waterhole for a swim if its a stinker of a day.
Did living in NYC shape how you painted?
It certainly inspired me beyond belief. Not just for the actual art side of things, but the hustle of people, overhearing conversations of what people are doing and the scale of which people are working and who they're working with was always an energy boost.
The city itself - its age and the flowing concrete inspired my initial cement works and visiting the brilliant galleries and seeing the amazing artists gave me a good kick up the bum to consider getting into it.
Last great piece of media (book, movie, show, music):
We watched a couple of great films recently: Triangle of Sadness and The Banshees of Inisherin.
Click Here ︎ to see Saxon’s work.
Where did you grow up and how did you get into being an artist?
I grew up in Baldwin, NY on the south shore of Long Island. I was very rambunctious- a tomboy, athletic and particularly head strong. Most of my childhood days were spent playing sports, racing down streets of asphalt barefoot and jumping into the waves at Long beach. I have always been creative and wild in spirit. Whether it be drawing, dancing, singing or performing; I have needed vehicles to express my emotions and have always sought out those spaces. I went to school to study Art Education and Visual Culture, thinking I would get to do something I loved and make an impact. It wasn't until my late 20's that I started to fully commit to cultivating an art practice completely my own. It was like one day I woke up and said "Okay, I am ready to paint now."
What in life inspires your painting?
Life, as it is perceived with our eye, inspires my artwork in the form of snapshots of memories. The way the contours of a familiar piece of furniture cut an open space or the way branches sat against a night sky during a walk home. I attribute these moments to specific feelings and cyclic patterns. I also am attracted to the way light bends and catches the tops of surfaces or particles of dust in the air. Very minute details. My artwork is mostly inspired by interior landscapes- frequencies of feelings and energy tied up and gathered in the air of vacant spaces. I try to balance both my experience of the outerworld and my emotional realities in my artwork.
What made you decide to go to college in Arizona? Did being there have any influence on your work?
I decided to go to college in Arizona to escape. I wanted something completely different. Studying art formally definitely helped refine the way that I technically approached my paintings. I also found that the Arizona landscape was healing and hauntingly familiar. I loved how the rugged plants would interrupt otherwise smooth, open spaces. The natural palette of rich burgundy, ochre and light blues also continually creep into my work, which is a nice vacation from the ever present deep blue.
Outside of art, are there other things that keep you creative?
Teaching art professionally has definitely grounded my practice and helped me to develop a creative language for myself. When you're helping others convey themselves visually on a day to day basis, you come to find there are many ways to communicate an idea which is very freeing. I also love to write when I am not feeling enthralled by painting. Sometimes it will just be an act of self care, other times I will write and sing with my guitar to process something I am going through. Lastly, movement is a major force that keeps me creative. I enjoy skateboarding, dancing and swimming in bodies of water.
There seems to be an emotional connection to what you lay down on canvas. Can you explain?
I think the emotional connection established in my work comes from a consistent nostalgia that has followed me throughout my life. I never felt like any places were truly mine when I was young. Our house was in various states of disarray and construction. Places and people were exhausted and on their way out. I was always trying to make things work and keeping up with presentations. I have a tendency to make the best out of hopeless situations and organize chaos with a neat bow. While this frustrated me when I was young, it has developed into intense sentiment toward the broken, disheveled and discreetly tender aspects of my spirit and I find that this comes through in my work.
Last great piece of media (book, movie, show, music):
The last piece of media that I thoroughly enjoyed was The Color of Pomegranates. It is a silent biopic about the poet Sayat-Nova. It is visually stunning and feels much like a waking dream. Not new, but definitely standing the test of time.