Friday, April 5, 2013

Artist Interview: Anna Magruder.

This artist is a huge girl-crush of mine.  She uses images from found photos and old yearbooks (much like I do), but she transforms them into the most lovely paintings with such intriguing stories.  I had to stop myself short of posting every single one of her images from her shop.  I'm in love with this first image the most, but they all make me very happy.  Please enjoy this little interview with Anna Magruder.

"Observer - Mediator"

1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?

I have been drawing and creating art for as long as I can remember. My favorite subjects were beautiful girls. I was always trying to draw the perfect dress and shoes and tiaras for my princess-like figures. I was also blessed with encouraging parents who loved to see me immerse myself in art. We had a "Make It" box filled with junk and anything my mom felt could be recycled into art. My brothers and I would get crafty, making cool art out of whatever was in the box.

"Coast" and "Entangle"

2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

I love portraiture - especially from the Renaissance era. I am also drawn to unique textures and unexpected color combinations found in abstract work.

"Book of Poems" and "Cheer"

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

I am very inspired by past eras. Past hairstyles and fashions spark my creative juices. I love perusing the faces in old photos and feel a sense of shared humanity with the subjects despite the passing of time. When I am feeling stuck or down, I take a jaunt through my favorite thrift or antique store and feel inspired and curious about the objects around me. I also collect old yearbooks - all eras - and find inspiration in the multitude of faces found in them.

"Shadow Tail" and "Openings"

4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.

I start a painting by finding a photo or 2 that inspire me. I especially like black and white photos that I can reinterpret with my own colors and ideas. I begin with a sketch on tracing paper, refining it until I have an image I am pleased with. The next step is typically an underpainting of red or burnt sienna on canvas, then I transfer the sketched image and start filling in colors and shading. I allow the painting to morph as needed. I am often pleasantly surprised by the story that presents itself when I am finished.

"In a Man's World" and "Mothers Day"

5. What is a typical day in your life?

As a full-time artist, I am very dedicated to showing up every day to paint. (Every weekday, that is... I value my weekends to re-charge and spend time with my husband and cats.) I start my day with catching up on emails and taking care of admin stuff. When that's done, I move to my painting area and see what calls for my attention that day. I often have 4-8 paintings going on at one time. This gives me the opportunity to decide on what I want to work with that day.

"Big Wheel" and "Boardwalk"
6.  What are your interests/hobbies?

I love thrift stores, antique shops and flea markets. I am just starting to get back into rock climbing - which I used to enjoy immensely before an injury kept me from climbing the past 2 years. I love craft fairs and I organize a yearly art & craft sale for Siren Nation every November.

Beautiful Anna in her studio space.
7.  Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

Art-making is my full-time job.

"Boldness and Grace" and "Stargazer"

8. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

Yikes, I have so many favorites! Right this moment, I am digging my most recently completed piece " Métis". It has a whole story behind it regarding the history of Oregon when the trappers settled the area with their Native American wives. The family portrait alludes to the struggle the mixed race (Métis) daughters may have felt. Unlike boys who were typically not accepted into Oregon society, educated Métis girls who downplayed their native heritage had a chance at integrating. However, their Indian heritage was usually ignored by their new families and by generations of descendents.  

Anna's Workspace and "Métis"

9. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

Treat it as a business. Do your research - read books, attend workshops and learn as much as you can about the business of art making.  

Another shot of the studio and old photo albums.
10.  Describe your work space.

This past year I have been fortunate to work in an office space in the historic Portland childhood home of Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling. I love the old woodwork and crooked doors. The North-facing windows allow plenty of wonderful sunlight for my workspace.

More Studio shots.
11.  Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Quite the opposite. I was a graphic designer for 14 years until I recognized that I was burnt out and not following my path. Once I made the decision to move into art full-time, I found my pathway cleared and doors opening, which to me was confirmation I was on the right path. The most challenging has been when I work extremely hard on a body of work, procure a gallery show for it, then not sell anything in that show. I have learned to look past this and recognize the amazing connections I am making and hear how others are touched by my work through that show. And the work eventually does sell, just not in the venue I was expecting.

Anna Magruder at work.
12.  What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

I am in the process of applying for artist residencies in other states, and hopefully out-of-country at some point. I am realizing the importance of pulling myself out of my comfort zone and allowing for new experiences and explorations to shape my art and to re-energize it with fresh perspective.

My favorite image (Anna Magruder at age 3).
Thank you so much for answering the questions for us.  Your work is so inspiring, and I hope my readers are as drawn to them as I am!

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