Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards the arts?
I’m from Washington DC (born and raised), so I grew up with the Smithsonian and Hirshhorn as hiding spots when playing hooky from school. I’ve always loved emotional and chaotic art; I think that’s how I formed a love affair with Picasso and from that, I began painting and trying to emulate him. When I realized that drawing in realism was my niche, I stuck with it.
Your first memory or interpretation of visual art
I wish I had a cooler story for this but honestly, coming of age when the internet was only used in classrooms or at home on a clunky computer through AOL, randomly finding images of art online really struck me. People were creating work I’d never seen in books at school or the museums, and I felt inspired by that.
Were your family and friends always supportive of your work?
Ha! I think I’ve always had a reputation for being inconsistent (and maybe a little bit lazy when I was younger), so family and friends were as supportive as they could be. I worked office jobs until 2014 when I signed with a gallery. I think from there, everyone said “okay, she’s serious”.
How many man hours do your pieces average and which piece took the longest to date?
The drawings vary in size, so it’s hard to say. My largest (and favorite) drawing — “Suffering and Transcendence” — took about a month off and on. It’s 4×7 feet! The smaller pieces take just a couple of days.
How long are your working intervals before you need a break?
I always need a break. I’ve got a bad habit of second guessing every brushstroke. More than that, carpal tunnel kicks in after an hour or so of shading, and when that happens I sit on the sofa and try to think of ways to improve the current piece or sketch for a new piece. I’m obsessed.
How do you determine what will be your next piece or any practices, rituals or a process that inspires the direction of future work?
I never know what the next piece should be! I guess it depends on what I’d like to say, what I’m feeling. Did I have a restless night? Okay, then let’s draw something to reflect that. Do my clothes not fit anymore and do I feel uncomfortable in my skin? Well, let’s take from that and try to create something. I’m not sure if I’m embracing faults and fears, but I am acknowledging them, and that honesty is relief. The work doesn’t necessarily have to be physical self portraits, but a nod to personal feelings I think we all share (shame, regret, longing, fatigue, etc). The ritual/process is hard to peg. As long as music and coffee are involved, I’m good to go.
What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or friends when pursuing a passion?
I’d say please don’t be deterred by the ones who don’t “get it.” Live your life doing what you love and find your people – they’re waiting for you with open arms. It’s taken years to understand the importance of this and how to live by it.
If you could could spend the weekend with any artist (past or present) who would it be and why?
Marlene Dumas is the first person to come to mind. Her work haunts and thrills me. I’d love to have a drink with that brand of genius, sigh. If she’s unavailable, a weekend of painting, rambling (and a little crying) with Van Gogh would be a dream.
If you could only rework one of your pieces for the rest of your life or chose a subject you have yet to attempt, what piece or subject would it be?
I can only choose one? I’d love the chance to rework every piece. I’m rarely satisfied with any of my work and I constantly seek validation to caress (or build) my ego. I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true. I’m genuinely appreciative and a little shocked when people regard the art. The kind words and compliments feel like personal approvals and I love that warmth. As for a new subject, I’d really love to explore mist, sea and hillsides. I know they’ve been done but ah, I think I’d really enjoy drawing non-figurative work. I get an unnerving feeling when thinking of it — and I love that.
Most humorous or strangest reaction/story regarding your work
“Why you always draw old naked people and jellyfish?”
Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…
I actually created a playlist on Spotify that sets the mood like nothing else. It’s modern classical, coffee shop jazz, ambient tunes and meditation music on loop for hours. It’s redundant but I need that white noise to concentrate. My phone is always lost, dead, dying, or broken so it’s not much of a distraction, thankfully.
Philip Glass, XXYYXX, Blossom Dearie, Nat King Cole, James Blake and a little Sade, please!
Sources of Inspiration
Conversations! I love them, even if I’m not a participant. Eavesdropping and people watching are the highlights of my day when I decide to leave my cave (I’m a homebody). Other than that, just thinking out loud and scrolling Instagram or Pinterest really help shape my ideas. I’ve been introduced to so many great artists this past year alone.
Biggest obstacle to date
Finding and maintaining balance. I’d love to be closer to old friends and make new ones, build a better relationship with myself and travel the world but trying to make it as a working artist, my shyness, insecurities, and an innate pattern of elusiveness sort of hinder those things. I’m genuinely struggling to navigate my life, and that’s why I draw the things I do.
What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned?
I’m unsure about the best piece of advice but here’s one life lesson I’ve learned: No matter how interesting, gifted, attractive, etc some may regard you, there will always be people who treat you like an unremarkable loser, through and through – Ignore them. They are not your audience and therefore are incapable of appreciating you (or extensions of you). Fully accepting this has spared me quite a few crying spells.
Where can we find you (urls, social media handlers, etc)
Website * Instagram * Facebook * Blog
Thank you. Thank you to every artist, art enthusiast, friend and foe who have inspired, supported and discouraged me. Life has been interesting so far, and each experience with each person has given me something I value, even if that has been cruelty. The bad has forced reflection and the good has padded my heart.
I’ll be showing at Art Wynwood in February, Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair in March, a solo exhibit with my gallery (Robert Fontaine Gallery) in May, and then Art Basel in Switzerland by June. Phew!