CS: This is always a tough question to answer! I guess I would best describe my work as being “stylized realism”. Although the subject matter of what I draw or paint is portrait-based/ focused on people and the environments that they are in, I don’t just paint things as they are, or how they “should” look. I like playing around with form, composition, color, texture, and pattern. I actually place quite a bit of emphasis on pattern because I love the way that it can convey a mood or an idea while being a static thing that is traditionally thought of as “background” or secondary information.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
CS: I draw inspiration from so many places… some are art related and obvious, and others have little or nothing to do with drawing or painting. It’s nice having a mixture of the two because it seems to make for a more interesting point of view.
Nature has always been a big inspiration for me. I grew up in a part of Texas that is known for its abundance of trees and natural areas, not to mention a wide variety of animals. Not only do the colors, textures and patterns found out in the wild inspire me to make art, but it is also nice to have a moment to myself away from all of the craziness of the city and modern life. I also am really inspired by music (my father is a musician so I grew up going to shows and being around music), as well as objects from the past. My family seems to have a fascination/ obsession with collecting weird old things, and I’ve definitely inherited that obsession. I also had a large collection of old fairy tale books that I would read religiously when I was younger that had the best illustrations. After going through one of those books, I would always feel like drawing.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
CS: Honestly, it’s kind of all over the place. Sometimes I’ll be reading a book or listening to one of my favorite bands and get an idea and want to sketch it out. Or, I’ll just be drawing out of my head in my sketchbook and not think too much of it at the time. A lot of the time, I tend to revisit those sketches, and I can go from there to build a more complex story and image. Behind all of the things I draw/ make, there is always some main emotion or feeling that drives it forward.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
CS: I’m an emotional person…too much at times. The only way I’m really able to work through those emotions is by making things. It’s really easy to feel isolated and alone, and I would only hope that a person could look at my work and be able to relate to the feelings behind it in some way. I don’t paint the most straightforward scenes (a lot of the time they are surreal or imaginative), but they are filled with feelings that everyone has at one point or another. I also hope to inspire people with the work that I do, and promote the importance of cultivating one’s imagination.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
CS: It’s bad because I’m already a pretty solitary, introverted person, so being an artist is really just a more acceptable excuse to seclude myself. Joking aside, I really enjoy the ability to sit quietly and create something out of nothing. It’s even cooler when I’m actually doing it as a job– painting and drawing are second nature for me, and it is extremely rewarding to know that I can build a life around that. At the same time though, it’s important to know how to separate your life from the art that you create, so that you don’t take things too seriously or run yourself down too much, especially if you’re also trying to make a living as a creative. In general, life is all about balance. That’s one thing I always try to keep in mind. As far as my lifestyle goes, I do what I love.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
CS: After trying out lots of different methods of starting work (from being extremely planned-out in every aspect, to just going off the cuff and being spontaneous), I’ve come to realize that again, it’s all about balance. If I plan things out too much, my work gets stiff and loses a lot of the vitality that it had as an initial sketch or idea. If I don’t plan enough ahead of time, I mess up some crucial aspect like the composition or the colors that I choose. Sometimes I can fix those things in the process of making an image, but a lot of the time it means that I have to start all over again. To make a successful image, I need to be careful enough to have purpose behind what I’m doing, while also leaving room for some spontaneity and serendipity to happen.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
CS: To not take what you do so seriously (I’m repeating myself here, but that’s only because it’s an important thing to remember!), to lighten up, and to have fun! Also, as soon as you start to feel negative about a piece or begin to get into a bad mood, STOP! I have ruined so many paintings by letting my bad headspace screw things up.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
CS: Not exactly. Although both of those things are important elements of what makes an artist and their work what they are, I don’t think that taste and personal style are of highest importance. I think it’s great and crucial to be in touch with yourself and what you like, but if there’s too much emphasis placed on style, your work becomes all about that and can be one dimensional and superficial.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
CS: Not defining myself as a person by the work that I create as an artist. It’s really easy for me to place all of my self worth on the work that I do, but that can be bad if what I happen to be making isn’t living up to my expectations, or if I’m having a bout of artist’s block. It’s important to realize that who you are informs what you make, not the other way around.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
CS: I love being able to document what I see, either in front of me or from what I see in my mind. It allows me to look closely at the finer details of life that I would otherwise completely miss. I also love being able to focus in on what I’m drawing, and forget about whatever problems I’m having or things that I’m worried about at that moment. Oh, and I love that as long as I have paper and something to draw with, I always have something fun to do!
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
CS: There are a lot! I guess, the top few would be: Tamara DeLimpicka, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Ed Ruscha, David Hockney, Edward Gorey and Aubrey Beardsley. I could name way more, but I’ve probably already listed too many.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
CS: I have been using computers since I was 4 years old, so I’m a little biased in that department. I think it’s amazing what can be done with the aid of technology, though I personally don’t use it as a main way of creating art. Doing art digitally is really great for projects that require a lot to be done in a short amount of time (no waiting for paint to dry, and you can easily play around with composition).
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
CS: I think that being attentive and a good observer allows you to view the world differently from others. Being an artist is just a byproduct of that. I definitely feel like I see things that other people miss, but that’s only because I’m interested in looking at things that other people assume aren’t important enough to pay attention to.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
CS: I love traveling! The great thing about going somewhere new or different is that you are stepping away from your desk and your current state of mind and opening yourself up to all new experiences and ways of seeing the world. You end up collecting all of these new ideas and memories that then inform the future work that you create.
I don’t get to travel too much, other than when I visit my parents back in Texas, but occasionally my boyfriend and I will take road trips to new places. We did that a lot while at school because we needed breaks from regularly pulling all-nighters and sitting at our desks 24/7. A few years ago while we were on vacation between terms, we decided that we would drive all the way up to Portland, Oregon from Los Angeles… insane? Yes. Worth it? Totally. That was one of the most fun things I’ve ever experienced. I love that city. Not only are the people super nice, but the landscape is beautiful, there’s a great music scene and great food too.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
CS: I feel terrible for what I am about to say, but I am not good at committing to books. I love to read, but I usually have about 5 going at once and there’s no telling when I’ll finish them (I blame this on the fact that I would rather spend my time drawing). However, I recently borrowed an autobiography by Peggy Guggenheim titled, “Out Of This Century”, that I happened to read all the way through. I like reading books about people in the arts, because it’s a nice look into how their lives evolved, and the paths they took to end up where they did. The thing I really enjoyed about this particular book is how insane Peggy’s life was– she traveled to all of these amazing places, met the most amazing people and paved the way for modern art in America. Not to mention that she was doing all of this during a very tumultuous time in history, and that she was a strong independent woman in a time when that wasn’t necessarily acceptable.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
CS: All I hope for is to keep learning and growing. I recently moved to Brooklyn from Pasadena, California to start my career as an illustrator, which is daunting, but also very exciting. I’m having a lot of fun exploring and meeting new people, a lot of which are very talented and creative. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to somehow collaborate with lots of other talented people, and work on large scale projects using my skills as an artist.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
CS: I think that being an artist means that I have the freedom to express myself in a way that other people aren’t always able to, and for that I am extremely thankful (especially because I don’t think that I’m very good at expressing myself in other ways). Being artistically inclined gives you the ability to be an excellent problem solver, and makes life so much more interesting and fun.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
CS: The quiet, still moments in life are some of the most beautiful. I try to highlight those moments and the feelings surrounding them with the work that I create.
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