Recently, I was perusing Saatchi Art, and my eye caught the work of Nina Weiss. I sent her an interview request and she kindly accepted. I am excited to know more about Nina and her beautifully vibrant landscapes. So, without further introduction, let the Q&A begin.
|"Big Flower Prairie"|
1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon the creative life later on?
I always made art! My father worked at a medical center; and he would bring home the rolls of paper that covered the examining tables….we would make murals on the floor. When I was older; I spent time in my room copying master drawings…then in high school moved on to larger oil paintings of my favorite album covers which I would give to my friends.
|"Causeway: Queechee Gorge"|
2. What style of art is your favorite and why?
When I was in art school; I began looking at the works of the German Expressionists and Viennese Successionist. I also identify with a group of painters from Canada from the 1930’s called “The Group of Seven”. These painters use colors and mark- making that are expressive and bold. I have always found their work extremely visually engaging.
|"Hidden Reflections II"|
3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?
At every possible opportunity; I am looking for landscapes to draw and paint! I have built entire vacations (and even my honeymoon!) around locations with promising landscapes. I document them in the field and complete my large-scale landscape drawings in the studio. I visit forest preserves; national parks; and local prairie preserves. I have also been know to cull landscapes from golf courses and parking lots!
4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.
My photographic reference is the basis for my paintings; so when I am in the field with my camera I am looking for compositions that are strong; dramatic; and inspiring. I then crop the photos in my studio to further refine the strongest of possible compositions. Canvasses are gessoed 2-3X and then coated with a colored ground; I then draw my composition out linearly with a thinned down paint. I do a bright; saturated underpainting; then build up the painting from there with broken-brushstroke; glazing; and layering.
5. What is a typical day in your life?
Pretty full! I have a teenager; a husband; cats; a house; and more than a few jobs (right now I am teaching at three different places; plus my studio). I go to the gym in the morning; and if it is not a teaching day I will be at the studio around 11:00 and work until I am needed after school by my daughter. Studio time also includes time for the business of art; this also continues in the evening when I am home. If I am teaching in the evening; the day is even fuller with gym; studio; daughter; then evening class. Somewhere in between there I also take care of whatever other business life throws at me!
6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?
Integrity; gesture; surface; mark-making; color
|"Old School Reflections"|
7. What are your interests/hobbies?
I am a big biker; so cycling is another way for me to be out in the landscape gathering images! I speak Italian; and love to travel (another way to get landscapes!). Our family spends as much time together traveling as possible. I am a life-long vegetarian and lover of animals…we have four cats; my daughter and I often volunteer with no-kill shelters to help get cats adopted.
|"Pink Sky Landscape"|
8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?
Teaching/creating art is my full time job!!!!
|"Rhapsody in Blue with Bridge"|
9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?
I don’t think I have a single favorite; but it looks like I have somehow held on to a piece from each important phase of my artistic development. I have a large chalk pastel on paper drawing; a gouache on board painting; and am thinking about MAYBE keeping one of my recent oils…..but I don’t create art to keep it.
10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?
If you pursue your craft as honestly as possible; working very hard for a very long time; there will be SOME people who respond to your work. Get it out there! Shows; galleries; art consultants; social media; websites; all very important. Most important though is to DO THE WORK.
11. Describe your work space.
I am in my third year now renting a wonderful; large; light-filled studio with lots of wall space. I use it to work in; teach; and as a show-room. It has a separate office space where I have built racks to store works that I am not displaying; and another separate small space that I use as a gallery in which I have shows for my students and other artists. I have a slop sink; skylight; storage closet; northern light; bathroom and small kitchen. It’s in one of two one-story industrial buildings separated by a nicely landscaped courtyard filled with rocks. It’s pretty much perfect! When I first moved in; upon entering; I heard heavenly music; angels singing; etc.
12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?
Graduate school was a bust; an inspiration killer. I opened my own studio; regrouped; and continued on my own after getting a teaching degree. So it may not even have been a setback; but something that propelled me forward.
|Another Studio Shot.|
13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?
I have my first small museum show coming up this Spring! I would like to continue showing in museum venues.
|Nina at Work.|
14. Are your landscapes from life, or imaginary, or both?
Always from life! Though I have looked at a gazillion landscapes; I could never pretend to know what nature is doing. I like to observe color/form/light.
|"Waimea Valley Waterway"|
15. Your color palette is very unique for landscapes, how did you develop your color
My color choices are mostly intuitive but also informed by color theory. I love my darks; and have been told that the paintings are a bit “moody”. I am always striving to see beyond “green” landscapes; and often do not interpret them as green at all!
|A Work In Progress.|
Nina Weiss can be found:
Thank you so much for you time, Nina--and please keep up the beautiful work.