Peter Sis

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Tell us about yourself.

My name is Peter Sis. I consider myself an artist but I am usually introduced as an illustrator or a children’s book illustrator. The next question is, “What age group are your books for?” and I do not know how to answer that. I grew up in Prague. My father was a film director and my Mom was an artist. I was in art school in late 1960’s and lots of political things were happening in the background. We were completely not free and the government saw some art to be decadent. It was a terrible time, so many things were banned, including rock and roll. It became very tempting. I starting making animated films because it gave me a chance to tell a story in a different way. In my animated film I have messages that are anti system, so hidden, if I look now I can’t even find them. The symbolism was so dangerous, it taught me to think in layers. I won the Berlin Film Festival in 1980 and eventually was able to get a 3 month visa to United States. This project was a life opportunity but it didn’t work out so I had to try to accomplish something before I tried to go back, the communist government could put me in big trouble. I got into the field of children’s books accidentally and never left. Maurice Sendak helped me. At first I was lucky to get published at all knowing little about American childhood, then I got lucky having two children of my own who gave me inspiration and ideas for about 14 years.

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When you got to NY, How did it begin for you?

I felt like I needed to create a style that nobody else had to be sure I’d be getting more and more work. I used tiny little dots which ended up taking forever. But I kept getting work, lots of editorial for magazines and newspapers like the NY Times, Time magazine, The Atlantic and many more. I had no glasses then, that I can’t understand. I also was illustrating children’s books that other people wrote. At first I was lucky to be published at all knowing little about American childhood. image

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration is my immigration experience. My books are mostly about leaving home. I thought this was a unique experience, to realize everyone leaves home one way or another. I am unique in my field because I was born in Czechoslovakia which doesn’t exist anymore. A blessing for me was when I had children. My inspiration came from what I was thinking they were dreaming about.

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How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process is tedious. I somehow imagine that the more detail I put in the more loved I will be. I also doodle. I have books where I layout my ideas. I can explain the whole idea this way.

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How do you get out of your creative blocks?

It is more and more difficult to unblock myself. Perhaps because of the changing landscape of culture, imagination and inspiration. How important is art to all of us? How important are books? Paintings? Beauty? is it just a business model of heart?

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If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

I almost had a chance to visit the the studio of Saul Steinberg, my hero, when I met him in a Manhattan bookstore. But he was in such a bad mood that I did not dare take a chance.

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Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out?

Follow the dream. I did a book of the same name- maybe you can still find it on eBay.

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What are your main goals for 2014?

My main goal right now is sun, green grass and blue sky.

Has any advice influenced you?

There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen

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Where would you like to be in ten years?

I would like to hold a beautiful book printed on delightful paper while visiting a spectacular independent bookstore full of curious customers.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I have a new book called The Pilot and the Little Prince, that will be published in May. It is about the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who became who he was through many different coincidences.

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Do you have any upcoming shows?

I will have a talk celebrating my new book, “The Pilot and the Little Prince” at the Morgan Library in Manhattan on April 22nd and an exhibition about my 30 years in America at the Bohemian National Hall on 73rd Street between 1st and 2nd ave, from May 7th. There is a Czech restaurant downstairs called Hopsoda with the best beer in Manhattan.

www.petersis.com

The Morgan Library Talk

The Bohemian National Hall

Seamus Heaney Honored at Dublin Airport with beautiful Tapestry by Peter Sis

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Thank you so much Peter, It was a pleasure to speak to you!

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Ellen Hopkins Fountain

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Tell us about yourself.

My husband and I have been living in NY for 27 years but I will always feel rooted to where I grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. My family moved around a bit, to Pennsylvania and then here. It’s the proximity of the city that brought us to Westchester.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

I got my BFA at Carnegie Mellon.  I worked at the local public television station as a production assistant and worked my way up through props and became a scenic artist for television, theater and film. It was a great beginning for a watercolor painter, I had to mix gallons of colors, work from a designers thumbnail and blow it all up to a 60′ canvas. I did this for 12 years until we started our family. I then went directly into painting at home.

Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

I go to museums and galleries,and I love looking through my collection of art books. This time of year the garden is a huge inspiration as are textiles, water, reflections, clouds and the sky. There is such a visual variety out there to energize my work.

Has any advice influenced you?

As a scenic artist, the best advice was use the biggest brush you can hold.   Sargent said draw everything. Never stop. It’s a great way of learning things. I keep a sketchbook with me and I’m constantly drawing and ideas evolve from that.

How would you describe your creative process?

I’m very dedicated. I make a point of working every day. Either here in the studio or going out someplace. I find that if I haven’t had a chance to draw or paint, something is missing, a lost opportunity.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I will go down to the river, or look out my window at the new view of the sky, or look at the garden. A good source is my sketchbooks which I have kept for years and there are always ideas I like to revisit. I like to go through older work and recognize my hand in the work I’ve done and see where I’ve gone since then.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

The gratitude I have that I am destined to do this. Also when children say, Oh look at that sky. It’s something you should paint! To foster that kind of awareness is great.

What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you handle them?

Watercolor is very challenging and I strive to do things that I think I can’t do, and I’m usually right, there are a lot of failures along the way. But it’s amazing to just press the boundary.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

I would visit Emile Nolde, a German Expressionist who did watercolor landscapes and flowers. He did it the way very few others people did. I’d also love to see Sargent paint watercolor.

Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out?

If you want to do it, you need to be passionate about it. You have to develop great work ethic, you have to do it daily, you have to work. Once you do and you find your satisfaction in it, you are one of the most fortunate people going. To have that something touch deep down within you that not everyone gets to express is so very lucky.

What are your main goals for 2012?

I’d like to improve my website. I want to continue painting and get better at it.

Where would you like to be in ten years?

I hope that I will have a barn!

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I love to work in series. I’ve gone back to cloud and sky paintings. We lost a huge tree in the yard which opened up a vast sky. I really grieved for that tree, it was protection, shade, beauty and housed all those squirrels and birds. After it fell over it took a while but now I just see this huge expanse.. constantly changing beauty of the skies.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

I have a show in August and September at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie  lgny.org 

My website is EllenHopkinsFountain.com

Thanks Ellen!!

Ellen will be on the RiverArts studio tour April 28-29. for more info go to riverarts.org

Patricia van Essche

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Tell us about yourself.

If I could draw the answer to this question, it certainly would not be a straight line. I am “PvE” an artist, wife, mother, sister, and friend to many and a keen observer of life-style.  Some might say, I have always been drawn to capturing what I see with line and color.  I love fine lines and happy colors.  Over the years, I just have kept working at my artwork while raising my family and keeping the home fires going.  I am a mother of 3 wife, and love my home and working from my home studio.  My about is really “to design, create and inspire an artful life.”

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Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

Besides creating art, I keep a blog and have been posting nearly every day for six years.  The connections that I have made are incredible and much of my work comes from my blog readers.  By keeping the blog, it has helped me to get instant feedback and also reinforced my own originality. It really means the world to me to know that I might be making an impression on a reader with my artwork and my words.  Much of my focus is positive and enthusiastic.  My art makes people smile. I am a huge fan of social media and having a presence on the web.

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Where does your inspiration come from?  

Inspiration can come in many forms.  Since much of my work is commissioned, a deadline can be very motivating.  I am inspired by everything which tends to be somewhat four season based. Autumn interjects a warmth, Winter is invigorating, Spring is colorful and Summer seems to be easy to love.  I love homes, people, pets, parties, weddings and shops and things that make one feel a sense of belonging.  Reading “What’s a dog for?”  Listening to Andrew Bird, Andrew Belle and love jazz. I do love travel, skiing, playing tennis, running, walking my dog and then making art.

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How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process is perhaps a bit obsessive compulsive.  Before I begin to actually get to work, I do a ton of gathering and collecting and editing.  It has to be in my head before I can get it to the paper.  I like to have things lined up before I begin.  I know many artists thrive on chaos but I love having my area organized and my table clean when I work.  What can I say, I like to make my bed and then get to work.

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How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I cannot say that I have creative ruts, because I always have work and am always thinking of the next work.  So in many ways when I am working, I have to stay focused to finish what I have before I can go to the next and that takes discipline because some things are more exciting.  It’s a bit like finishing your veggies before dessert.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist

The joy it brings me and to others.

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What is the most difficult thing about being an artist for you?

The most difficult thing about the creative profession is that people tell me that they cannot draw a straight line all the time, what they do not realize is that straight lines are over rated and that it is work just like any other job. It is work but it is also so rewarding.

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What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you handle them?

Biggest challenge for me is to let perfectionism go.  Get to work.  Get it done.  Do it again. Sometimes I might not be satisfied and the important thing is to get it done and then keep doing it.

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If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

If I could peak inside of any studio, I would want to go back in time to Cecil Beaton, Ludwig Bemelmans.

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Has any advice influenced you?

I suppose the advice that has influenced me and my work would be my parents, my family, and that of many loyal clients who are supportive and encouraging and love my artwork.

Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

My advice to other artists who are starting is to start.  Start and find a style that works.  Even if it is one thing, just keep doing that one thing over and over until you find your work taking shape.

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How do you balance work and family?

The reason I do what I do is that I am able to balance being a Mother and an artist.  Now that my sons are in college and my daughter in 8th grade gives me time for my artwork but I always found time.   I love preparing home cooked meals, walking our dog, doing nice things that make me feel lucky to do what I do.

Do you have any main goals for now or the future?

My main goals for 2013 are already in progress and I am very excited to be launching a brand new site which will really reflect me and more of my work.  The internet has changed and people are starved for time, so grabbing one’s attention immediately is so crucial.  With a new site, I hope to attract more of the customer who wants my work, understands the “cache” and my niche. I plan to have new artwork seasonally and to limit the number of commissions.  I also plan to have a book published with my work.  A sort of coffee table book with my artwork and quotes.  I will continue to free lance work for several clients, J.McLaughlin, Sheridan Road and several other private repeat clients who come back for annual artwork or custom commissions.  I also want to create a line of cards and items to sell with my artwork licensed. In ten years, I know that my work will be in demand and that it will continue to make me very happy.

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Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I am working on a job for a client all the way in Dubai.  It is for an internet business involving food.

Do you have a blog or website?

My website is pvedesign.com

My blog is pvedesign.blogspot.com

Thanks so much, Patricia!

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Tim Ward

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Yorkshire, in the North of England, and moved to a little town in the Midlands when I was pretty young.  I studied fine art at Staffordshire University but left after 2 years. I gave up art for music for a while in the 90′s. In ’95 I played a gig in New York and met my wife, Ruth. We lived in London until 1999, and then moved to NY to live first in Brooklyn, and then here in Hastings after our daughter Bluebell was born.

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Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

I teach painting to 7th graders at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. It’s been really good for me — I spend a few days before each class just trying things out to explore with the kids, which sometimes has the added benefit of inspiring my own work. I used to work at the Whitney Museum, installing shows and also at the warehouse where they store their catalogue. I loved working there. They’ve got screens and screens of paintings that you don’t normally see, so when things were slow I had the opportunity to really pay attention to works that I hadn’t known before.

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Where does your inspiration come from?  

I suppose my inspiration comes in various forms – sometimes from the idea of forcing myself to make a painting whether I feel like it or not. Other times it’s from looking at another artists work or from seeing an interesting building or a landscape vista while I’m riding my bike around. I do like to collect various found objects, pieces of wood and and bits and bobs to be surrounded by. They can kick start an idea. Ultimately I suppose I’m inspired by the attempt to make something of a high quality.

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How would you describe your creative process?

Trial and error. I try not to conform to my own taste too much. I can become uncomfortable with something that I initially liked and at that point will do something fairly dramatic to change it. Sometimes I set myself a goal or challenge. For example, last year I painted 40 8” x 8” landscapes, each with one element of industry – an oil rig or some imaginary rendition of a horrible NJ turnpike-style factory. Some worked immediately and others needed a bit more time.

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How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I don’t really have ruts but I do have times when I just don’t like what I’m doing. At that point, I’ll take some time off or go on a bike ride then come back and make something without worrying about what it might be. I always have a few things on the go at once so I don’t get too bogged down.

Blue Construction (possibly a city) for web

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

It doesn’t get any better than doing what you want to do. I can come into my studio and forget about everything else. I also like the idea that my work exists in other people’s lives after they’ve bought a piece.

What is the most difficult thing about being an artist for you?

Worrying about what people think. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter.

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If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

Picasso. I recently looked at about 200 works he completed between 1914–1920 and didn’t recognize most of them. It’s amazing how much work he did and how he played and experimented without inhibition.

Has any advice influenced you?

I worked on a huge Sol Lewitt mural at the Embassy Suites in downtown Manhattan in 1999 when I first came to the States. It was a massive project, with 50 artists working on it. The organization and discipline required to finish the mural was impressive. That was a big turning point for me and was a moment when I realized that I had to knuckle down a little bit. Before that I’d had a more naive and childlike notion of what being an artist was all about. I’ve since learned to take that discipline and apply it to my own methods.

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Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

Go for it. Start making things and don’t worry. It will take a while to find yourself so just keep on working.

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How do you balance work and family?

My wife is really into me being an artist. My daughter is at an age where she can do her own thing so I have time to work even after she comes home from school. She will sometimes come into the studio, when it’s not too cold, and paint with me. I’ve used some of the stuff she makes in my work.

Do you have any main goals for now or the future?

I want to continue to make art. Make bigger art and more of it. I’d like to show in more galleries this year. My long-term goal is to live on the Mediterranean, have my own pool and a huge old barn for my studio!

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Do you have a blog or website?

tbward.com

Thanks so much Tim! I enjoyed it.

Oil Rig 2 (for web)

8 x 8 Series No. 5 for web

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Susan Ordahl

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Tell us about yourself.

I was born in the Queens, NYC and grew up in Massachusetts, the youngest of four kids. We had a cottage on the beach and being the last of four in the 70’s I was left to my own devices much of the time. My surroundings; the beach, the ocean, the fish, and the shells became my world. I went to Regis College, at first intending to be a veterinarian but after taking a few art classes, I just fell in love with art. I moved to NY and became an Art Director. I loved the creativity, the photo shoots, working with illustrators, putting the package together. After about 10 years I left publishing to start my family, and to fulfill my creative desire I started painting.

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Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

I am freelance book designer. I am currently working on a very interesting survey of LaSalle Military Academy from beginning to end. I’m writing and illustrating a children’s book which are stories I’ve told my kids for years. I’m also running a variety of art workshops for kids at the Westchester Library System. Next month we will be doing claymation for black history month. They have to come up with ideas to explain famous people in black history using crazy art supplies and claymation. I create a very cool environment for them to work in.

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Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

Nature and the awesomeness that surrounds us. Every leaf and every face is original and it just blows me away.

How would you describe your creative process?

It evolves and changes. I add false structure, such as restrictions of the series. Sometimes I have natural restrictions like when my kids were younger I had only a window of 2 hours in the day to paint. This forced me to paint in a compressed way, thinking about the painting for days and then painting quickly and intensely. I was drawn to the vitality if the fishes eye. I was thinking about the fish and the moment and I started painted them directly. I did a series of 15 fish paintings. My next series was 20 portraits. Again I painted what I saw, not what I thought I should see. They are very intense and wild. I have just finished a series of 100 broken shells, that project is about how everything is broken and nothing is perfect. It kept me painting intensely for over a year.

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How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I know the work is in there. I just wait, something is percolating and then it comes out.

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 If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

I’d love to talk to Alice Neel, visit her mess of an apartment and talk to her. I always felt like I’d get along with Cezanne, he was at the beginning of cubism and he had such a strong personality. I love Rothko. I’d love to see how he paints and how he perfected modern art. But really, I’d rather be a fly on the wall and just see them at work.

Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

Originality is one of those funny things. Try not to feel the pressure of trying to be like everyone else, it’s the most unoriginal thing you could do. Originality comes from within and no one can give that to you.

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How do you balance work and family?

Creativity is a whole package with me and my family. When the kids had art projects we worked on them together. They help me think up art workshops, sometimes they help me give the workshops. It all blends together.  As a freelancer, I’ve been able to be home. It’s not easy making ends meet but really, the kids just want me there.

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Do you have any main goals for now or the future?

My main goal for this year is to find my way emotionally and spiritually back into portraits which is a very intense hard thing for me to do. I would like to paint twenty by the end of the year. In 10 years I’d like to have a giant thriving studio. If my work continues to grow exponentially, as it is now, I’ll be happy.

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Do you have a website?

susanordahl.com

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yes, at the Irvington Public Library which opened January 2013 and has been extended until the end of March 2013.  The End of One Hundred Broken Shells, Metaphor, and Muses.

Thanks so much Susan, It was wonderful talking with you!

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Jennifer Shotton

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Scarsdale. I never thought I would be back in the suburbs but the Rivertowns are very mellow with a rich artistic vibe and strong artist community so it’s a good fit for me. I went to Skidmore College and then to graduate school at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  I am married with a 5 year old daughter who is currently in kindergarten.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

My last job was at the JCC in Tarrytown, teaching art to kids. I worked in a High School in the Bronx for years. I’ve done everything, been an art consultant, an art director for a stamp company, jumped around from profession to profession. I’m thinking about possibilities for the future. I am also taking care of my 5 year old.

Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

From talking with other artists. The art critic from New York Magazine, Jerry Saltz, has a forum on facebook where he talks about art, people post their art and their are critiques and discussions about it. It is inspiring and validating to be involved in a community like this. I also listen to a range of music.

Has any advice influenced you?

I had a great mentor in graduate school. He said put up 40 things and work on them all at once. It has influenced me to work in a series. I can’t work too long on a piece because I become too precious about it, so I jump to something else. Similar advice from a teacher was: paint out the part of of the painting that is most precious to you. It really helps the composition because then you aren’t focusing on just one little area. It takes a lot of guts but but if you do it, it makes the whole work stand as a whole.

How would you describe your creative process?

I have an idea or theme in mind but then I just let the process take over.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

Having people in to my studio to talk and exchange ideas and alternatively getting out of my space. Traveling is needed sometimes.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

When I’m finished with a piece and I say WOW, this really works for me and having my work inspire others. Having my work encourage a discussion.

How do you balance work and family?

I try to involve my daughter on some of my work. She inspires me. During the day when she is at school is when I’m at studio. Having less time makes that time more productive.

What is the most difficult thing about being an artist for you?

It’s uncomfortable for me to tell people I am an artist, not all people understand it.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

Gerhard Richter. His squeegees, rollers and paints are really cool.

Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

You need to just go into the studio and paint, to see where it goes for yourself, not to be the next Damien Hirst or the next superstar.

Do you have any main goals for now or the future?

I have a series in my head that’s been percolating for a few months based on street art. I’d also like to connect to the arts in our community more, maybe organize some critique groups. I’d like to go see more artwork and begin journaling again.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about?

Street Art Inspired by Banksy, the everyday imagery that we see. Part of me wants to get back into detailed collaged work.

Do you have a blog or website?

http://jennifershotton.com/

Thanks so much Jennifer!

 

Allen M Hart

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Tell us about yourself.

I was born in New York and am now 87 years old. I studied art at the Art Students League and was  seriously painting by the time I was 15 years old. My journey has been a never ending process, and I’m working as furiously today as I did then. Early on had a show at the Gallery Neuf on 79th street. A critic was there and he wrote that you must come to see the Allen Hart vigorous landscapes.  The dealer called me up and told me to come down on Sunday to meet a very interesting woman. It turned out to be Peggy Guggenheim and I was part of her troupe for about a year until we parted ways over a disagreement about Rouault’s work which I was very influenced by..  I was friends at the time with a wonderful group of artists, Zero Mostel and Jean Liberte. They were all politically to the left and were a great influence on my work. In 1948 I traveled to and lived in Mexico for over a year, there I became a member of the Talle Graphicos which was an art workshop in Mexico City. Every Thursday they had meetings in a big abandoned church and I met Pablo O’Higgens, Siqueiros and Frida Kahlo. I was asked to be the studio manager, so I was loading and unloading kilns and taking the images off limestone plates that they use for lithography. I was awed by the experience but the fact is they took very good care of me.  I met my wife in 1952 and we traveled in Europe and lived in Spain for over a year. We then returned to New York where we have lived ever since, and have two sons, Dan and Adam.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

I was the director of  visual arts at the Children’s Aid Society for 33 years. I built it into a very strong community center. We had pottery, painting, photography and more. I had a great staff and it was wonderful to work there.

Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

My inspiration comes from within myself. At this point in my life my work is becoming psychological imagery as my Book Art shows. I have created 80 of these books to date. I also enjoy reading history, particularly about the Elizabethan era and I’m influenced by the writings of Samuel Beckett.  I become a part of history and I pretend to pretend. My life right now healthwise is rather limited in a physical way but I read continually, I draw continually. I don’t know where my pen ends and I begin.

Has any advice influenced you?

I studied with Harvey Dunn back in 1944. At that time I was rather realistic in my work. He said to me, “What are you afraid of, son? I said “I am not afraid”. He said “You are” and proceeded to take some prussian blue paint and make 3-4 strokes on my painting. I thought my god, you ruined it but he had it right on the spot. When I got home and looked more, I knew what he was talking about. That was a big turning point in my life, I became a thrower and a slasher, that’s how I released so much creative energy. This goes back so many years..

How would you describe your creative process?

In this journey I’m always conjuring up new images and new ways, My new work is done as Book Art and then the ideas sail onto the canvas. Art to me is way of existing, there’s a sense of magic to the whole thing. I use my handicap today as a way of poking fun at the devil.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I never have them. The art flows from me.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

My Wife!

And this Dylan Thomas Poem: In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

What is the most difficult thing about being an artist for you?

Money. And the times are bad for everyone right now.. All through my life my wife helped out financially, we always worked together.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

The first one would be Rembrandt. I think of him as the most modern of the old masters. I find his lifestyle and everything about him very beautiful. The second is Anselm Keifer. He is the most important modern painter in my eyes.

Do you have any main goals for now or the future?

I never thought of art as a series of goals attained, it’s just an endless process that has awareness at every stage. The thrill and mystery of it.

Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

My advice would be to just be yourself at all times and not be influenced by exhibitions or flattery or anything. You should swallow up everything you know and learn and put your own signature on it.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about? 

The images from my Book Art. The books are made by Tibetan Monks living in Nepal. Sometimes they are thematic, sometimes about history. I have finished about 80 of them now.

My website is allenmhart.com

It was wonderful speaking with you Allen!

Jerzy Kubina

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Jerzy constructs large scale images on silk using technologies to create layers, textures, translucency. He is searching for a language which expresses the ideas inside. Sometimes the paintings are quiet and translucent, and then suddenly become very dramatic. There is a symbiotic relationship between him and the materials.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Zamosc, Poland, and studied at the Academy Of Fine Arts in Krakow in the painting department. During my studies it was the Communist Regime in Poland and it was very difficult to find freedom. I decided immigrate to New York in 1986. It was a good time from the beginning, I met a dealer who bought my paintings and set me up in the ballroom of a hotel in Paterson to use as my studio. It gave me the space to experiment with installations, performance and large scale paintings.  I stayed for 3 years. I then got a show with a gallery in Paris and lived there for a year. I’ve been in NY since and came to Dobbs Ferry 3 years ago. I have 2 kids.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

Painting is very important to me, it is my life and my private passion. I support this part of myself by doing commercial art, faux finishing and murals. I’m also in the film union taking freelance jobs as a scenic artist and stages for the movies.

Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

Life. The observation of life. Observing myself. For this kind of observation I need to know certain kinds of techniques and technology. Life provocates the technology and technology explains the vision.

Has any advice influenced you?

My professor in Krakow said to me: “In art talking is not necessary because you produce the something that has it’s own vibration and can talk back.” Interaction between you and my painting is the most important. Also, Be yourself, You need to understand what you really want.

How would you describe your creative process?

I treat my process as a laboratory. I’m trying to challenge and discover something that will be exciting for me. I’m looking for techniques that will be in harmony with my emotion.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I don’t really have creative blocks..One painting always gives me the idea for the next one. It’s my life, the creativity grows inside of me.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

To have time for thinking. The creation process touches everything that is inside you, the spiritual things.

What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you handle them?

It is a challenge to discover yourself, to be very sensitive to your past and not to think too much about the future.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

I would like to visit the cavemen. They had such a natural process of creation. When he drew the bison it touched religion, hunting, communication. I would like to watch from a secret space to see him and the materials he used.

What are your main goals for 2012?

I have a show in Zamosc, Poland in August at the Zamosc BWA Gallery.                        I also have an upcoming show at the Monika Olko Gallery in Sag Harbor on Long Island in November.

Where would you like to be in ten years?

I love dreams but I don’t love planning.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I’ve been working for a few months on pieces that juxtapose translucency and rough metallic finishes. It brings me to the emotion I’ve been looking for, for a long time. I will continue with these paintings.

My website is jerekkubina.com

It was a pleasure talking with you, Thanks Jerzy!

Kaya Deckelbaum

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Kaya is a  figurative sculptor who integrates wire mesh with driftwood and other media.  Wire-mesh is a window screen like industrial material, I work it with my hands and fingers and use simple  tools with rounded knobs. No molds. I started with clay and then further developed my skills with wire mesh and driftwood. I love working with mesh because of its transparency and the almost 3-dimensional shadows it creates.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Bulgaria but I lived in Israel most of my life, with some time in Africa. I’m married to a Canadian and we have travelled and worked  in different parts of the world. We have 4 children and have lived in Hastings on Hudson, NY  for the past 27 years. I started sculpting  only 6 years ago and uncovered some inner artistic talents that had not previously “surfaced”.  I’ve never looked back.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job?

Now art is my primary vocation and occupation.-I can’t keep away! In addition, I appreciate viewing and understanding works of other artists, new and old.

Where does your inspiration come from?  Is there anything you are looking at that particularly speaks to you?

Much of my inspiration comes from my experience in Africa. You will see that  a number of my  sculptures are women that have wings, spreading the wings means  trying to achieve more . We are all held back by something, whether it’s family, work or other obligations. I’m inspired by the expression on people’s faces. To create face expressions with wire mesh is hard and rewarding, suddenly the face talks to you.

Humor and spirited visions are very important to me.  I’m not the artist who is repairing and correcting the world, I want something that has humor and people can enjoy.

Has any advice influenced you?

I once heard an interview with the painter Agnes Martin who said that when you want inspiration to come to you, your head must be free of everything else so there is room for that inspiration. I find it so true, if your mind is all cluttered imagination cannot flourish. Certainly, inputs and comments from others and also understanding what goes into their work is a key contributor to my thinking and expressions.

How would you describe your creative process?

I come down to the studio, take a big piece of mesh and I just start working. I very rarely have specific image in mind when I’m starting, and slowly my imagination will join the flexibility of the wire-mesh and the sculpture will start falling into shape. I am not an expert in drawing, so I don’t start with a drawn plan…. I need to do it my way.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

If you have to do income tax or pay bills it’s very hard to return to the studio and create again. . So when I return to the studio, listen to classical music, “play” with the wire-mesh and get back to my creative mood.

What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?

When I finish a sculpture, assemble it and I say ”WOW.”! Because it doesn’t always happen, sometimes I sculpt and put it aside until the right “combination” occurs and the sculpting comes together.

What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you handle them?

The challenge is not in creating but in being accepted by me and others; people, galleries, exhibitions. Once you are an artist you’re already creating, its the marketing that’s hard.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

There are two. I would visit Giacometti and Modigliani. They speak to my heart.

Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out?

Dedicate yourself to your art. There is always something else to do, try to be in your studio daily.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

In November 2012 there will be an exhibition and symposium in Shaarei Tefila  synogoge in Mount Kisco celebrating the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during the second world war. Since I was born in Bulgaria I was invited to speak and exhibit my sculptures during this event.  I am working on a piece that will show the spirit of the Bulgarian people and Bulgaria, my birthplace.

What are your main goals for 2012 and the next 10 years?

I would like to participate in  many exhibitions as possible and continue to work at my sculptures and make their impact wide spread.

Do you have a website?

kayadeckelbaum.com

The link to Kaya’s show at Shaarei Tefila  synogoge in Mount Kisco will be added when it becomes available.

Thanks so much Kaya!!

Lindsay duPont

Tell us about yourself.

I spent my youth in Winnetka, Illinois. My family – 2 parents, 6 children (including 2 sets of twins) and our dog, Boodles moved east when I was 14.  I spent my high school years in Vermont and graduated from RISD in painting.  After RISD I went to secretarial school and had mostly boring jobs to support my painting.  I fell in love with Frank duPont and we have 3 great children who grew up in Hastings where we still live.

Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job? 

I’ve illustrated 6 children’s books, a book and coloring book for Applegate Farms, the organic meat company and currently I have a long term free lance illustration project for a private client.  In between, I take any illustration jobs that come my way.  I really enjoy it too, along with painting.

Where does your inspiration come from? 

It comes from looking.  I love nature, colors, design, music, books…
Has any advice influenced you?

I have a quote by Howard Thurman hanging on my wall. Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

There is also a little poem by Pablo Neruda, talking about the in between. Not about this or that. It’s about what you can’t reach.

How would you describe your creative process?

It’s very instinctual, very much about the in between. The process is trying to get to a place where your head is free and you’re open to things, you aren’t tense, you aren’t tight.

How do you get out of your creative blocks?

I just keep working.  Keep banging my head against the wall and then I call a friend and go for a long walk.



What’s the positive and inspirational thing about being an artist?

I’m always on the lookout – so it keeps the world interesting.  The light shining through a tulip petal can slay me with joy.

How do you balance work and family?

Family is first.  Art is second.  What’s for dinner is third.

What are your biggest challenges to creating art?

Staying open and fresh, keeping that place alive and slogging through the bad parts.

If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?

I would like to have seen William Steig’s  pen. I’d like to BE Sonia Delaunay.

What are your main goals for 2012 and in 10 years from now?

To keep having the opportunity to work and to find more outlets for the work.

Do you have any advice for artists who are just starting out?

Take care of business, work hard, find love.  Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.

Do you have a blog or website?

my website is www.lindsaydupont.com

Lindsay will be on RiverArts studio tour April 28-29. for more info riverarts.org

Thanks Lindsay!!