CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?
RS: My paintings and works on paper are purely abstract, non-representational works. Although many people are drawn to what they perceive to be figural elements in my compositions they are merely a consequence of style and do not deliberately represent anything from life.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RS: I don’t consider myself a painter that uses inspiration in the way you mean. My work is born from active problem solving. What I mean is that I respond to the ‘moment’ while I am working. If I create an interesting or even conflicting relationship in the composition I tend to exploit it immediately. So if there is any inspiration that is influencing me it happens very much in those little moments. I have often described my work as being kaleidoscopic in nature where one move opens up 10 others and so on. My work is the one informing me and seldomly if ever the other way around.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
RS: I have a severe disdain for what I call ‘idea art’. I am not someone who thinks of what a painting will look like beforehand or conceptualizes a game plan at the beginning of a project. I prefer work that draws you in further than something as plain as an idea, work like that challenges the viewer’s certainties and makes them think harder about how they are responding to a painting. Without the instruction that an idea provides you have to give in to your subconscious in order to feel what something means as opposed to knowing it. Instinct is much more interesting than understanding. You don’t understand love or anger or sadness. Leading a person to a conclusion about a painting is a waste of time as it would be far easier to just tell them what you want them to know directly. I tend to just start on a painting and let it unfold it’s story as I argue with it. The conclusion of a good painting is nothing but it should FEEL like something monumental.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
RS: No, not really. If anything I would want them to know that a tremendous amount of work went into all of my paintings, that thought and purpose drives all of my art. I like paintings that I can see hard graft in and I would like my work to be seen like that.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
RS: It’s very repetitive. My days all seem the same to me. There is a lot of studio time and a lot of alone time. I prefer it that way though. I enjoy my longer days working but they all seem to run together. I hardly go out at night or even engage the city like I used to. The work has just taken over and its importance to me is above having a full social life. I think that is what it takes though, giving yourself over to just working. I mean I have friends but they rarely see me. It sounds grim but it isn’t really.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
RS: I think it is the lesson of self confidence. There are so many ups and downs in one’s career that you must have faith in yourself and your vision to be able to push through the difficult times. There are a lot of difficult times too and you have to be ready to face them, learn from them and then move on from them. Without guidance or structure you have to have the confidence to navigate the deepest part of your uncertainties. It is a real battle and one you will never fully master. Even the successful moments often feel suspicious. You have to learn to live with your doubts otherwise you won’t get anything finished.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
RS: I don’t like either of those options really. Style and taste are opinions and I am after facts.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
RS: You have to have an endless well of ambition and be a good self starter. No one has ever made me go to the studio, but I do go even if I don’t feel motivated to work. It’s really important to dialogue with your creativity everyday. It should be at the top of your list always.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
RS: There is nothing quite like having a Tuesday to yourself.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
RS: I have been getting into the work of Adrian Ghenie lately. His paintings tap into that whole Francis Bacon aesthetic that I am really fond of. I also follow the careers of NYC based artist Luis Colan and Texas based artist Patrick Diaz quite closely.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
RS: I personally never thought I would use things like social media as much as I have ended up doing. I still think of things like Instagram as a time sink but that is how people communicate with each other now so I thought I better get onboard. Technology is excellent for getting your work seen by people that would otherwise have never had access to it. The access technology provides is stunning but I still prefer to stand in front of a painting.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
RS: That’s hard to answer because I think it comes down to what is important to you. If you are actively working on personal things, important things, then no we don’t see the world differently. I personally would be very unhappy in a job, but that might not be the same for someone else. Life is short and you have to be sure you aren’t wasting the time you have.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
RS: I am a fan of Hunter Thompson and Cormack McCarthy.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
RS: I am starting to get my feet wet in European galleries so I would like to explore that a bit more.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
RS: It’s silly to say it but there is a lot of freedom in being an artist. I relish the ability to freely make decisions on my own behalf. I am the master of my days.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
RS: Rock and Roll Suicide by David Bowie
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
RS: Enjoy it I suppose, I appreciate the fact my work even has an audience. It is a remarkable thing that someone would be interested in something I take so personally. I am lucky in many ways and that fact isn’t lost on me.