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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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: