Saturday, March 14, 2015

Artist Interview: Alexandra Loesser

This next artist interview is an exciting one.  She captivates me with her skill, and her subject matter is so much fun.  I was ecstatic when she agreed to let me interview her.  Please enjoy this Q & A with artist Alexandra Loesser:

Alexandra in her studio.

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

I was definitely always an art kid. I probably went through a ream of paper every few days with my drawing. I never proclaimed that I wanted to be an artist but it’s just what I always did starting from when I could hold a pencil.

"Barbie and Rex."

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

I appreciate all styles of art! My favorite would probably have to be early expressionism and romanticism. I love the line between natural realism and pure expressionist painting.


"Fox and Stars."

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

The biggest problem I feel that I’m faced with is being overly inspired to a point that I have a hard time reigning in my ideas. Most of my inspiration comes from living things; I love animals and people but the real ideas come from the relationships between living things. I like to give form to intangible feelings and energies. I usually start with something I’m interested in from an aesthetic perspective. That initial attraction is really a jumping off point to figure out what the subject means to me and how I should develop it and add complexity.

"Ghosts of Spring."

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

My creative process is not very formulaic. I usually start with a very general idea of what I want and begin to create different experimental drawings. These sketches help me narrow down what it is I want to paint and what I have to say. Once I have a loose composition, I put it to canvas fairly quickly. I’ve found that if I do too much preplanning I lose some of the magic. I like to leave room for the painting to reveal itself to me during the process. Very rarely does my finished piece look exactly like the original sketch. I do a little under painting and a little premixing but I’m very much of an “on-canvas mixer” because I’m finding a new color every second, and I want the painting to feel fresh and not static. It is during the actual process of painting that I figure out what the instinctual decisions I made really mean. A painting can take months or days; I just have to go with my gut to know when it’s finished.

"Great Horned Owl."

5. What is a typical day in your life?

A typical day starts with me arriving to the studio as early as I can, which means about 9:00am. I like to work early in the morning or late at night if possible. I think the closer you are to the dream state the better. I have my etsy shop to take care of and emails, so I work on that for a while and then jump right in to whatever painting is currently holding my attention the most. I usually have about five paintings going at a time that I can work on a little every day unless there is one I can’t tear myself away from. I try to be in the studio a full eight hours every weekday so I don’t get slack. It’s important for me to go into the studio everyday even if I don’t feel like it because you never know what might happen – the day you don’t go in could have been the day you have an artistic breakthrough. Being a painter is a pretty solitary job (but if I’m in a good creative zone I don’t notice the time), so at the end of the day I come home and try to remember how to be social again. When I go to sleep I always keep a pen and paper by my bed because ideas often come at the most inconvenient times.

"Polar Heart."

6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

Lots of things! I think it’s so important to always look at other artists’ work. It’s inspiring to get a glimpse into someone else’s mind. You can also learn so much from other work, whether it’s in technique or style or just the imagery, but I’m most drawn to emotion in work. When you look at art or create it you want to feel something, and you know you’ve found a good piece of art when it lingers with you, when everything isn’t quite spelled out. I’m always attracted to work with a haunting quality; a little darkness can be really beautiful.

"Coyote and Butterflies."

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

I’m a little single-minded when it comes to this…drawing or painting is what I’m doing most of the time, though I wouldn’t call painting a hobby because it’s always felt more like a necessity (one that I enjoy). Lately painting has led me to do some writing. Writing gives me relief when I have something gnawing away in my mind and an image is not the right means to give it form. Oh and I do love to watch weird films. A beautifully done movie is like a painting in itself.

"Winter Birches."

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

Painting is now my full time job; it’s not always easy, but I’m always grateful.

"French Invasion."

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

My favorite piece is one that I made back in college. It’s a self-portrait that I painted when I became very frustrated with art school. I was mentally exhausted and my boyfriend at the time snapped a photo of my face in the midst of tears and desperation. I immediately went to work on a new painting using that photo as reference. I completed the large scale self portrait in a single night. It’s not the best painting I’ve made to this day, but at that time it was. I think I attached myself to how I was feeling and tapped into painting the emotion rather than the face. When you get the chance to “tap in” all the work is done for you.

"Hyena with Flower Crown."

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

Unfortunately, I know very little about the business world but my advice to someone who wants to profit from what they create would be to always create from the heart…not from what you think people want. Also, know your craft, know it up and down. Be proud of your work but never completely satisfied; satisfaction prevents growth, In my opinion. And finally, let your work speak for itself and you won’t have to “sell” it to anyone.

Alexandra's Work Space.

11. Describe your work space.

I am constantly cleaning my work space because it looks like a hurricane after every work day, and I usually have several paintings/drawings in progress at a time. I paint in natural light and keep photos of inspiration and other paintings I admire all around to remind me to continue challenging myself. My studio is airy and quiet which is a nice balance for my mental space.

"Maned Wolf."

Alexandra at Work.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

I think I face small setbacks every day whether it’s financial or a near-finished piece I decide to scrap, but they keep me in check. I’ve always known this wasn’t going to be an easy career path, but I have a great support system and time in the morning to meditate and keep myself centered. It also helps to remember that if you are in the studio working, time is never wasted. Even if I’ve spent a lot of time on a painting that isn’t going to work, I’ve still learned something.

"Polar Bear."

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now? 

Right now I’m just focusing on pushing myself to the next level. I’m hoping to show in some new galleries and explore some new subject matter. I want to get outside of myself and outside of my city for a while.

You can also find Alexandra here:


Friday, March 6, 2015

Artist Interview: Colleen Kinsella.

Today's Artist Interview is with Colleen Kinsella of kinsellaart on Etsy.  Her lovely and unique printmaking prints are a delight.  Here she answers a few questions about her life and work.

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

Drawing was my first creative outlet. As a child I drew for enjoyment, as therapy and to challenge myself. In grade school I spent most of art classes drawing things for other kids. I left drawing for a while when I was in college to study photography, but printmaking classes brought me back to it.

Plum Clouds Night Dancers.

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

My favorite style of art?  My taste in art is all over the place, from Heironymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly delights to old Mad Magazines. I respond strongly to art that combines processes.  With visual art, literature and music, anything immediate, fierce, honest and well crafted is exciting. I don’t have a genre that I go to. I seek out work that reveals itself over time with depth and emotion.  I am a printmaker so I am biased towards all things Print, from Xeroxes to lithographs.  I enjoy the Surrealists, especially Remedios Varo and I love the printmaking heavyweights like Warhol, Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Nancy Spero.  I love reading science fiction especially through the visionary eyes of Brunner, Le Guin, Dick and Octavia Butler.

Dark Blue Ship in Distress.

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

I love to become absorbed in the process of making & experimenting. Music is a constant inspiration. Whatever book I am reading or record I am listening to greatly affects my work.

I have a steady nightly practice of going into my studio and doing work.

This can mean drawing on a copper plate or quilting or sorting through prints. Every night I arrive at my desk and do something. Having that space and time to create every night is inspiring. Where my ideas come from is a murky unknown. I work intuitively making images almost out of the corner of my eye. The things that come out are sometimes a surprise to me. I have borrowed from all kinds of work, the science fiction I read, artists like Lynda Barry and Kiki Smith. 

Horse Drawing.

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

I wish I could walk you through but my process isn’t linear. I usually have many things going on at once. For example right now I am working on a comic tentatively titled Girlsworld done entirely with printed etchings. I am halfway through hand-quilting a queen size quilt made from my screen printed fabrics. I am emailing out a call for submissions to a collaborative platform for addressing social injustice towards women and children.
It takes me a long time to consider a piece finished—years in some cases.
Every now and then I’ll get lucky and an idea or print will come off the press as finished.

Hot Heads II (Detail).

5.  What is a typical day in your life?

Get up early, Coffee + Coffee, get Quinn to school on time, talk with Caleb, go to work, pick up Quinn from school, come home, talk with Caleb, Nap if possible. Make dinner as a family, do homework, bath and bedtime for Quinn. After Quinn is asleep I begin my night and I don’t stop until the wee hours. Wind down with some Agatha Christie and wake up and do it all over again.

Etching Moon Yachts.

6.  What do you think draws you to other people's work?

I am drawn to work that is politically conscious, aesthetically beautiful, rich and varied in mark-making and meaning. I like art that tells a story or many stories. Art that takes time to digest. I feel the same about books and music. 

Aqua Winged Butterfly Bardot.

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

Right now I am looking at Sister Corita Kent and the quilts of Gee’s Bend.  For books I am reading James Baldwin & Octavia Butler.  For music I am listening to The Julie Ruin, Ras Michael and Buffy St. Marie.  I love playing music with my friends in our band Big Blood.  Hanging with my daughter and Caleb.  I am currently trying to learn all of Erik Staie’s Gnossiennes.

Purple Haze Night Dancers.

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

I am committed to working at my art full time but it is not my primary financial support. I work and teach at Maine College of Art. I have always had a job in addition to my studio practice. It takes the pressure off making things with the intent to sell.

Print of Laura B.

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

My favorite print series is The Garden from 2008 and a quilt I made for Quinnisa’s bed. But my favorite piece is usually whatever I am working on now—which is the Girlsworld etchings and a quilt for our bed made from table runners and cloths I screen printed for our wedding.

Her Workspace.

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

Understand how to do your own taxes.

Prioritize time to be creative. Trying to make money solely from your art is difficult and can take you away from the best aspects of making. Success for me is being able to continue making new work.

Take risks with your work but be disciplined and realistic in your practice. 

"The Shack."

11. Describe your work space.

I have a few work spaces. Our kitchen table is where my husband and I screen print all our tapes cds & records for our label dontrustheruin records. We package and send out from our house and sell through During the winter my work space is within my house where I do sewing, quilting, and drawing.  In the Spring/Summer I work/print in a studio across from the house known as the Shack. It is currently blocked by huge snow drifts. Inside there is an etching press, screen print station and bay window for reading or thinking/staring off into space.  My third space is the printshop at Maine College of Art where I work and teach.

Studio Shots.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Of course! Self doubt, money, work, lack of space & time just to name a few.  But I’ve always had a need to make work --for myself.  I want to be creative. I love to have art, music and beauty around me or I feel terrible.  Since my daughter’s birth I have become even more territorial of my studio time. I can’t make work when she’s awake so I have the night time reserved for the studio.

Inspiration board, and "The Shack" blocked in winter by a snow drift.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

I want to publish a book of the Garden series.  I want to set my Girlsworld comic to sound and music.  I want to make music videos for Big Blood using my prints.  I want to be a good mom and an aware person in the world.  I want war to be over everywhere.  I want us all to take part in healing the wounds of racism and prejudice throughout our country.  I want to learn all of Satie’s Gnossiennes by heart.

You can also find Colleen here:


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog Envy: The Boo And The Boy.

Julia, mother and blogger, has done an excellent job finding great spaces on her blog "The Boo and The Boy."
So many wonderfully eclectic kids' rooms, and other fantastic interiors.  Check it out you'll thank me!