I can be moving or I can be still,
But still is still moving to me…– Willie Nelson

The lush green foliage and bright flowers of a semi-tropical garden sway in a gentle breeze below the balcony of Terri Hallman’s second floor studio outside Houston, and the artist is starting to think she likes the idea of staying in this place a while. She’s been working in the garden, and for the first time in her 45 years her thumbs are turning green from something other than pigments.

Hallman’s life has been one of movement, geographically and artistically. The stimulation and challenge of new places, mediums, and methods has always invited her to shake off any hint of staleness and try new things. But there’s clearly a counter-force at work as well. Her lively, richly hued, and visually playful paintings are almost always anchored in the straight-on stare of the human face, with its unchanging qualities of quiet observation and subtle vulnerability. This odd equilibrium contributes, no doubt, to the strong attraction in Hallman’s art, which is internationally collected and represented by galleries around the United States and abroad. Now movement and stillness are beginning to find balance in the artist’s life as well.

Only three activities stand out in Hallman’s memory, as she looks back on her childhood in small town Minnesota and Wisconsin. Gymnastics and horseback riding were satisfying outlets for a painfully shy and introverted girl. And when she wasn’t in motion, she had a pencil in her hand. She drew constantly, honing her skills at realistic rendering, even enjoying a phase of meticulously re-creating in pencil the texture and tactile qualities of leather and wood. Perhaps surprisingly, considering the vibrancy of her current work, Hallman never ventured into color, in fine art, until she was almost 30.

By then she had earned a bachelor’s degree in design from Minneapolis College of Art & Design. She spent her last two years of college, and a brief period after graduation, working for a design firm for which she received two international awards for packaging design. She could easily have remained in the design field, she admits. “I loved design. You have elements to move around and figure out, and I enjoyed that. It’s very structured, and I like having a lot of structure and then breaking out of structure.”

As it turned out, life offered its own opportunities for breaking out of structure. Over the years Hallman found herself in a series of diverse creative endeavors in a series of cities and towns, including San Diego and Lafayette, Louisiana. She also traveled around the world. She produced wax carvings as design models for ornate furniture; she worked in advertising, sign making, and framing, all the while gathering hands-on experience with a range of materials and tools. Somewhere along the way she discovered big, chunky colored chalk sticks. One day, about 15 years ago, she crushed some of the chalk and began applying the powder to paper.

“I literally stumbled into this way of working,” she relates. “But that’s kind of the way things always happen with me. It’s an organic progression. I stumble onto one thing, and it’s working, and then I find something better, and I keep going until I hit hard onto something.”

Hallman hit onto an ideal medium for the kind of painting she enjoys, which she has refined and continued. Yet the broad popularity of her work hasn’t stopped her from exploring a range of other materials, among them: clay sculpture, which she hopes to cast in bronze; encaustic on panel, acrylic on board, and mixed media imagery that incorporates such materials as stucco, joint compound, and nails. She also creates striking figurative sculpture by assembling thousands of tiny pieces of wood, each one hand-cut, glued together, and then shaped and finished as a whole. “It’s very time consuming, like putting together a puzzle,” she smiles.

“Still,” Hallman observes, even with so many potential artistic directions, “when I get up in the morning, 90 percent of the time what I want to do is a face.” So, in the upstairs studio above a detached former garage—with the downstairs serving as her woodworking studio—she starts. Putting pencil to paper, she produces a stick-figure structure for the painting: circle and lines for a head, neck, and shoulders. These lines will remain in the finished piece, almost as if the ghost of a child’s first drawing has remained visible under later layers of visual complexity, mature artistic expression, and emotional depth.

Covering the fine lines with thinly cut tape to screen them from the color that will follow, Hallman begins applying pigment. She starts with colors that come in the form of talcum-fine powder; later she’ll add coarser pigments, some as rough as heavy dirt. She uses her hands—never a brush—to rub dry pigment into the paper. Then she applies a clear acrylic spray to set the color, and moves swiftly to the next layer. “After so many years, I know exactly the consistency of each pigment—some are sleek and satiny, some are toothy,” she explains. “Sometimes I scratch through and let other colors come through. All of that is really yummy to me.”

As each section of the painting feels complete, Hallman blocks it off with tape. She won’t see the entire image again until it is finished and she removes the tape. “The beauty of it is, I kind of know what’s happening, even if I can’t see it,” she notes. Sometimes on the final surface, she adds thin washes or dry pigment mixed with oil. “The surface is the best part of my work, the most satisfying part of the process and the way it looks,” she declares. “It’s heavily textured but not built up. There are lots of cuts, surface changes, and layers, and just by looking at it, it’s hard to tell what I’ve used.”

What the artist perceives in the completed piece is a metaphor for—and actual visual remnants of—the passage of time. It’s as if the painting is in motion and the finished work consists of fragmented memories, or snapshots, of the animated image as it evolved. “Sometimes I put writing in it, and then parts of the writing get lost and I don’t remember what I wrote. The words were important at the time, but they’re not important later,” she reflects. “Even if you can’t see it, you can tell a lot has been going on.”

Yet the total span of time Hallman works on each piece is remarkably short. A completed painting can take as little as a day. But that’s a day of hands moving rapidly, fluidly, and almost non-stop. And the swiftness of the process is key to its success. “It needs spontaneous energy. When I start thinking about it while I’m doing it, it doesn’t work. There has to be a loose flow of energy and I just go with it, but I’ve also worked hard to get to the point where I can trust that my fast hand is going to do the right thing,” she explains. Drawing by children, she adds, provides endless inspiration. “It’s really honest and straightforward. It’s clean and crisp, with no pretense. It’s right in your face. I like that.”

As in children’s drawings, Hallman’s paintings often incorporate a simple object such as a house, a bird, or piece of fruit. These iconic images serve as personal symbols for the artist, who notes that each painting reflects her life experiences and emotional state at the time. A bird on the shoulder, for example, speaks of companionship and trust. The symbol was inspired by the sight of a small pet bird perched boldly on the shoulder of the person on whom it completely depends. A house translates as security, stability, and comfort, and is an image that has emerged more frequently in recent work.

Hallman tends to work in non-stop stretches of several weeks in a row, moving between her painting and sculpture studios for six to eight hours each day. Then she gives herself the treat of a week or two of travel to distant parts of the world. Having spent time in 21 countries, she finds herself drawn to places whose cultures and people are distinct from our own, places where the disorientation of the unfamiliar keeps her clearly focused in the now.

“The most important thing is to stay out of your safe zone and be willing to make yourself uncomfortable, in order to grow. I feel like I always need to move forward into unknown territory,” she says of life and art. Then she pauses and smiles. “But there’s something really lovely too about putting down some roots.”

©May 2009 - Southwest Art Magazine®


What was your childhood like?

There was a lot of family trauma. When I was five and my father worked with eighteen-wheelers. When he was thirty-five, he was struck in the head by a hub cap that flew off a truck. He survived, but his personality was affected. There was so much trauma around that. The strain was too much for my mother, and she eventually left with her four girls (I have three older sisters, 3, 4 and 5 years older).

There were times when we lived at poverty level. Mother was very good at making things look better than they were; she would serve lunch on beautiful dinnerware. But she was vulnerable and emotionally weak and wept a lot. She let us feel insecure. So as an adult, I feared security for a long time.

The family was so split. For a time, I lived with my mother’s relatives in central Minnesota. Her mother, my grandmother, lived on a beautiful farm, but there was something brutal about life there.

Did you have any interest in art at this time?

I was always drawing as a child. My earliest memories are when I was about six years old. I was disconnected from my family, so I drew. It was really about retreating and avoiding. I only did drawings about women, since I was so familiar with them.

I got a lot of encouragement for my drawings. My third grade teacher was very important for me. Every time I made a drawing, she would hug me and praise me in front of the class. So I kept it up. I was living in Minnesota at that time. I consider Minneapolis to be my home town even now.

Did you have formal training in art?

I entered a Junior College in Hibbing, Minnesota, at twenty-three. The same year, I entered one of those “Can You Draw Fido” contests in a magazine and won a free course. Back then, there was no “on line” schooling; I took the course by mail. At age twenty-six, I entered college. Before that, all I did was draw with graphite pencil. In college, I rarely used color. I received a private art school scholarship to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I did not study fine art, I studied design, though I did have some illustration courses.

In my second year, one of my instructors hired me to do design work. I worked for him for five years. He was German and reserved, but he knew how to handle me. He was encouraging; he upgraded me. He let me know the truth but was restrained and diplomatic. While working for him, I won an award for package design; I remember that the project was called “Profiler”.

How did you become the artist you are?

I was making so much money with my design work that I left school before finishing the last semester. No one seemed to care about the degree, and the last semester was full of courses that I had put off because I had no interest in them. I thought I was going to be a designer forever.

One day – literally one day – after something negative had happened to me, I don’t even remember what. Maybe I had an argument or someone had upset me. I felt that I needed to do something creative. I found a few pastels around the house and some paper, and I started to do something. Afterwards, when I looked at it, I was sort of shocked. It was unlike anything I had done before, and I thought it was really good. Strong. I had always been attracted to fast, expressive art, and this was totally spontaneous and energetic. I got results very fast, and it had a tone that felt real for me.

I took about a dozen pieces downtown and walked into five or six galleries. Some wanted to show my work. Within six months, I had gallery representation in Minneapolis, and within two years I was showing in Chicago and Atlanta. My fine art belongs in my life for sure, because it supports itself. It is a solid rock in my life. It tends to build very nicely.

Where do you do your work?

At the moment, I am staying in Houston. I have a good studio to work in. I have my dry pigment studio, and that is all I can do there. The pigments get all over everything, even though I do clean up, so I can’t do other work there. I also have a place where I do my wood work – basically a tandem garage with a patio in the back for sanding. The former owner had equipped the garage as a workshop. But it gets too hot to work there in the summer.

My house is full of my ceramic stuff. It takes up so much room that I really need more room for it. All of my studios are messy, smelly and noisy.

The ceramics are something new. What are you doing with it?

For ten years, I have been looking for something to build sculptures with. Whenever I need a new material, I go to stores and look at everything that can be used. I tried water putty, but it will decay. I needed the material to be self-supporting. Clay is difficult to figure out how to work with and move with. But it is perfect to join with wood. I had to figure out how to do it by myself, and I had a huge epiphany. A lot of the work is a combination of wood and ceramics. It is still at the infant stage.

I have been obsessed with ceramics for about a year. First I did a lot of reading for about four months, then I worked with clay for about four months, and now I have been spending the last 4-5 months learning glazes. A lot of pieces blew up in the kiln. Nothing has blown up lately.

I am doing some very simple figures, some to be attached to the wall, about 15” – 19” high. There will be several in my show. These are simplified people, not beautiful people. They are humorous, quirky, light-hearted. I call them “Tumblers” because they are a spoof of the reaching, arching, stretching figures that lots of sculptors do. They are about color though the color palette is limited.

I am also doing a ‘heads’ series, about 9” high, and a loose group of people that sort of remind me of scruffy people with torn clothes. I haven’t got a name for them yet. They have non-complicated shapes so that I can pay attention more to the surfaces than to the forms. Some pieces are serious, some quirky. I am also doing a group of birds. I like birds a lot. They are calmer, more placid.

It is so exciting, and I so love it. It is an interesting process and very complex. I am growing with it a lot. Working in different media is very satisfying. It is never the same. Your brain never stops. You are always challenging yourself. I am always in a state of development.

All the work I do is related to jig-saw puzzles. If I had free time, I would do jig-saw puzzles. It is the thing about shapes fitting together (laughs).

But you are still working in dry pigments.

I have been doing the pigment work for some ten years, but recently it has been more sporadic. It is good to take a break from it. The last pieces I did were really light hearted. When I am working, I don’t know what they will look like. When the market started to go down, my work got darker. That is my favorite kind of work, because it is serious. But that isn’t an issue anymore. Now the work is innocent and very light.

There is something extremely spontaneous about your work.

One recent book had an impact on me. It was about a sculptor, and she said that she learned not to edit herself. That’s what I try not to do. When you do not think about what you are doing, there is an organic thing going on. You have the music on and you are feeling…I don’t have a word for it…and the work takes on a life of its own. I do not think about what the work looks like, and what I am feeling is what comes out. Organic is a big word about a lot of my work. The process is organic and the forms are organic. There are a lot of elements.

I grow with work. I let instinct take over. Since I work by blocking out huge areas with tape and paper, all I can see is a small part. I can’t see it, so I am not able to tell how I am connecting the dots. I rely on instinct, intuition – based upon experience and the materials, of course, but what I do feels unconscious to me. I don’t “understand” why I’m doing what I’m doing. My work is related to surrealism, particularly the earlier work, in that it comes from the unconscious or the dream state…when something appears without a cause. Every work kind of appears on its own.

The richer, deeper part of that is I have such a long history of working with my materials that it becomes automatic. Have you read Blink? It says that conscious decisions are based sometimes on outside things and can cause you to make choices that are not your own. Blink says it the way I feel it. It is the only place I have been in.

If I am working on a dry pigment head and an eye looks sad, there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t know how to make an eye look happy or sad, looking to the side or directly at the viewer. It is an unconscious level, not about understanding the structure. I can’t be concerned with the way something looks. I need to let it go. Sometimes when I am working, I think, man, this is never going to work; but if I keep going, it works itself out.

What do you feel have been important influences on you?

Traveling has been a big food for my work. I have traveled to Thailand and South China; I like countries that are really rough and different. You get completely in the moment and there is newness, fresh fuel for work. When it has some movement to it, I’m interested. Disorientation is part of it, so I am now going into new areas, new media. They move you out of habits. That very much affects my work. My work is very much part of my life. It is a very conscious effort to challenge myself to stay interested.

I have read about phrenology and physiognomy, related to psychology. I had a really old book on phrenology that had woodblock drawings. I actually loved that book. I don’t know what happened to it.

Events in my life put me in a different state of mind. They create a dynamic for my personality at the time. I am impacted by how I interact with or dissociate from people in my life.

Interview with Michelle Gagliano

Let’s go back to your beginning. (Laughs) I was born in Jamestown, New York, on December 26, 1964. I am the youngest of four children. My family lived in Cassadaga, New York, a rural area outside of Jamestown. My father was of Sicilian descent, and my mother was of Swedish descent. My mother was a homemaker, and my father restored vintage automobiles. Up the hill was my grandparents’ home. My grandfather had a huge dairy farm. Incidentally, Cassadaga is on a hill; down the hill on one side is Lily Dale, a gated Spiritualist community that Houdini used to frequent. On the other side is an Amish community. I maintain contact with my Amish friends to this day.

And now?  I am married; my husband’s name is David. He is a PhD in Clinical Psychology. We live in Virginia with our three children, David (18 years), Christopher (sixteen), and William (thirteen months). David and Christopher are interested in filmmaking; David had a film exhibited at the Los Angeles Film Festival recently.

Did your parents influence your artistic future?  Actually, one of my earliest memories was lining up with my sisters to help wet-sand an automobile finish for my father. My father was a perfectionist, very dedicated to his craftsmanship, and I think that affected my own sense of workmanship.

When did you decide on art as a vocation?  Oh, I intended to be an artist even before I had a clear idea of what that meant. I remember one day in kindergarten when I stood on a table to demonstrate to the other children how to hold a paint brush! I can’t really say where I got the idea, but it always seemed to be there. Possibly it came from seeing the paintings by my aunt that hung all over my grandmother’s house.

Our family moved to Austin, Texas, when I was twelve. I was determined to go to art school, so I worked my way through high school in three years so I could get to study art at the University of Texas as soon as I could. When I was a teenager, my uncle in Buffalo, New York, who was an excellent artist, instilled in me the conviction that to be an artist, one must work at it every day. I found that very appealing.

What did you find so appealing about making art?  My view of art is a lot like that of James Elkins in his book, What Painting Is. The materials of art, “sticky oils and crushed rocks,” are magically transformed into art works in a kind of alchemy through the experimental efforts of artists. We are working with these things, and we transform them into something beautiful!

Tell us a little about your technique. I can compare my painting method to that of Russian icon painters. They would make a ritual of finding the right wood, preparing it, and painting the imagery. I choose the wood panels and spend several days or even weeks preparing the surface. I gesso the wood and sand it lightly. Like the icon painters did, I apply a layer of gold and begin to build up layers of oil paint. This is when the composition begins to be set. Then I thin the paint with mineral spirits of alkyd to make glazes and apply them, gradually mixing in less and less thinner. At the final stage, I apply dark stains to work the leaf shadows into areas to showcase the background. If I want to bring up a light area, I will excavate or lift up the stain.

Are there particular things that inspire your work? Well, visually, I am fascinated by the surfaces of things, things like old tables and chairs, old tools, signs – things that have signs of being used and lived with. Maybe it started with a fascination with the weathered and hard-used patinas of the farm houses and fences where I grew up. But as an adult, I came to love the surfaces of the walls of Rome – the outer walls of buildings and the inner walls of rooms. I lived in Rome for a year and a half, and go back to Italy periodically. And actually, the artists who interest me the most – Jules Olitski, Lucien Freud, Robert Rauschenberg, for example – are those whose surfaces are important to their work. The paintings that excite me the most have a muted or quiet pallet, too.

As you know, the imagery of my work usually has a landscape reference. We now live in Virginia in the middle of thirty-five acres of woodland with few other houses visible. We see mountains on one side and a pond on the other, with lots of trees around. I do like the imagery. I’m sure it seeps into my psyche. And it reminds me of my grandfather’s dairy farm in New York when I was a child. I used to get up before the family and walk up the hill to watch the sun come up. There is that time just before the sun comes up and lights the colors, when you see fields of muted color in the sky and earth and the leaves are all in silhouette. I think that gorgeous land was imprinted on me early on.

Early on, I loved the interplay of darkness and light, and this continues to be characteristic of my style. My paintings in this style are not only about the shadowy leaves in the foreground, but also about the lush, glowing background. When I began to do these paintings, I was also doing illustrations of the cantos of Dante’s Inferno in a realistic style. What carried over was the realization that in life one encountered shadows, but that one could look beyond them into the light.

Generally, I like to work on two different ideas at the same time. At present, along with my work with natural forms – branches, leaves, and vines – I am also working with imagery drawn from ancient maps – symbols, sea monsters, nautical instruments. I was inspired by the extensive display of maps in the Vatican Museum.
I like to listen to music of all kinds, but I especially like old jazz. My son David prepares CDs for me. He knows what I like. I also listen to books on tape. But I do not like to listen to anything “dark”.

What goes through your mind when you paint? Well, for example, I am painting these vines all over the place and you can interpret these in all different ways. They can be a symbol of Christ; in the Bible He says, ‘I am the vine.’ They can just represent the human-like growing and moving just to find the light. Since I am also working with old maps, the vines can also stand for roads leading here and there. But this is just what goes through my mind. What another viewer sees may be something else entirely. It may be nothing but vines. What is important is that my painting provides pleasure and relief from all that is going on in the world.

Is that what you want your viewers to get from your work? I would like my work to provide a pause from the everyday turmoil of life. Too much is going on in the world. I want people to be able to pause and enjoy. I share the Matisse philosophy that you want to come home and sit with a painting and relax. I also like there to be a sensibility of light – that is, a sense of optimism in the painting. My colors are clear but muted because I want to give the sense of relief rather than artificial stimulation.

Andy Baird Interview

June 2008

Tell us a little about your family? 

I was born in Denver, Colorado, August 12, 1946. There is a thing about being a long-time Colorado family, so I like to point out that I am a fifth-generation Colorado native. The first Baird came here in 1867. Colorado has always been my home, and I cannot think of any other place as home.

My father was an engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation and helped design major dams; my mother was a homemaker who took charge of raising six children. I have two brothers and three sisters, all of whom live in Colorado, except one sister, who lives in California.

My wife, Cindy, is a technical writer. We have two children, both very talented. Lydia, who is twenty, will be a Senior this fall studying dance at Julliard in New York; Sam, who is eighteen, will be a sophomore at the Manhattan School of Music studying jazz trombone.

When did you first decide to be an artist?

I knew I would be an artist from the age of seven, in second grade. I used to watch my aunt – my father’s sister – paint. She painted horses. That year I won a school-wide contest. Our parochial school had taken us into Denver to hear a concert, and afterwards held a contest to paint our impressions of the event. As I recall, my painting had part of the orchestra in the center with musical notes all around.

Where did you study art?

Out of high school, I went to the Rocky Mountain School of Art & Design in Denver for three and a half years. It was a commercial art school, and while it helped me discover a love for oil painting and figure painting, I decided that I did not want to do commercial art. I thought I should get an Art Education degree, so I went to the University of Northern Colorado in Greely and got my BA in 1972 and an MA in 1976.

At the University, things got a bit mixed up. I had a roommate who helped me register by pulling cards for my courses. He wound up pulling graduate-level painting courses for me along with a few required courses. My graduate professors let me stay because I was so advanced in my skills. But by my Sophomore year I had taken all my electives, so I had to catch up on my required courses. One of the requirements was ceramics.

I was not happy with that because I thought that I would have to do hobby painting of pre-fired pieces, but I soon learned that ceramics involved using a wheel and kilns, so I became interested – so interested that my painting fell by the wayside. I loved working on the wheel.

Where did your interest in ceramics take you?

I began to show my work while I was still in school. Before I graduated and became a teacher, I was getting recognition for my work. My project for my MS degree was on Indian pottery. I figured out how to do the metallic black hand-polished finish that Maria Martinez was known for. It had been a closely held secret, but I figured it out and used it in a unique way. My method was to make a pot, disassemble it, and reassemble it to give it an ancient look. By the time I became a high school teacher, I had two or three major ceramics galleries and was selling high end pottery. By the mid nineteen-eighties, my work was carried by ten great galleries across the country and was getting five hundred dollars per pot, which was a nice supplement to my salary. The first hand-polished, broken, and reassembled pot that I sold in Santa Fe was purchased by Robert Redford, and that got me national attention.


What brought you back to painting?

In the mid 1990s, the rage for blown glass took away much of the pottery market, so I went back to painting. I began doing wildlife painting and water colors, but I felt that I had arrived at the style late in its popularity, and saw that it was beginning to fade. I like to get the pulse of what the nation is thinking. Every time I go to a city, I visit galleries and find out what is selling. Wildlife was the earlier market, but then it fell dead. Contemporary art is now in the lead.

How did you come to develop your unique style?

About 2002, I was teaching a particular student who was so advanced that I had to come up with new assignments to challenge him. The student could do excellent contour drawings, so I gave him the project to draw with scribbles – to make a face come out of the paper just with scribbling. Drawing without an outline. He succeeded so well that I used it as a standard assignment in advanced drawing classes. I had my classes work with this technique with chalk pastels. The process inspired me to experiment with the technique myself. I saw that I might be able to use liquid paint using a Jackson Pollack-like method.

How did you work it all out? 

I went on a deliberate search for paints that would work with this style. My high school let me use an empty classroom in the summer as a painting studio. I began by spreading canvases on the floor and walking on them as I dribbled paint. There was a problem stretching the canvas after the paint dried, so I began to stretch the canvas before painting, which meant that I had to walk around the painting instead of on it. I used a stir stick to stream the paint onto the canvas. I experimented with various liquid acrylic latex paints until I found the particular brands that stream well. I scrubbed each canvas with water to remove the sizing and tighten the canvas, then lightly gessoed it while it was still wet. I first applied a base color to the canvas, usually a rust color or a dark green, to provide a background wash effect of complementary colors. This color showed through any tiny spaces there might have been between the streamed lines in the completed painting.

The technique was not one to be controlled precisely enough for small subjects, so I worked on very large canvases. I paint just above the canvas as it lies on the floor. I have trained myself to be able to visualize the image from a distance, so I can see how the painting is progressing. Sometimes, when the painting is nearly finished, I will hang the canvas up and step back to study it further.

It took me a couple of years to develop control over the streaming and to produce enough good work to do a show. The finished work was around seventy-two or three inches by sixty-three inches. My first showing was at an art market show in Denver, and it was a success, so I felt that in terms of the art market, I was doing the right thing at the right time.

Do you relate your work to any other artists?

The technique was connected to Jackson Pollack. At first, only seeing Pollack’s paintings in book reproduction, I did not care for them. But after seeing the original work in museums, I went from being a reluctant fan to an absolute fan of Pollack’s work. I loved the fact that it was so deep and so layered. The technique was to keep adding paint until there is depth to the painting.

There is also a connection to Chuck Close, who used pixel-like sections to compose portraits, as well as the earlier Georges-Pierre Seurat, who used dots of paint to compose scenes. Optical blending enables the perception of the image. I might call my work ‘Seurat meets Jackson Pollack meets Chuck Close’.

In its subject matter, your painting seems to be in the American Pop tradition. 

That’s the whole thing – putting our culture right back out there. From the beginning, I thought of the work as an offshoot of Pop Art. I deliberately worked with a glamour look – almost the commercial look found in fashion magazines. I observed how commercialism worked in the store check-out lines. I saw that everyone liked the women portraits better than the men, and I discussed it a lot with of people – friends, clients, artists – and watched people in the check-out lines at stores, and came to the conclusion that women were focused on the fashion magazine look. My first ten paintings in that look were half men and half women. I wanted my paintings to work exactly like a branch of Pop Art, similar to Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans. I agree with the overall Pop Art philosophy – putting art back in daily life, off the pedestal. Art consumers are drawn to images that surround them on a daily basis.

Where do you get your Pop images? 

I am very selective about the images I choose to get that “look”. Some of my source images are inspired by ads. I look for photos with the right light and shade and an intriguing image. From them, I make sketches in pencil and charcoal studies. When I have students with promising faces, I will pay for their senior class photos in exchange for permission to choose a few shots from the Denver photographer who takes the photos. (I got to choose five out of the three hundred shots from my daughter Lydia’s senior photo shoot, which inspired me to do the same with other students.) I name my paintings after the actual students, if the names are good ones; otherwise, I choose names from a book of baby’s names. Some of the photos become favorites and I use them several times with varying compositions. Although these photos are my sources, it is up to me to create the look of popular culture that you see in my paintings.

These days, I will work on ten paintings at a time. Some will be put away unfinished until I can discover what I need to do to finish them. The others each go through a process of completion. The beauty of the process is that the face starts to come out and get a personality of its own.

When you paint, do you have music playing in the studio?

Absolutely. I will listen to music and sometimes books on tape or radio talk shows. I feel influenced by the mood of what I listens to, particularly in the choice of colors. With certain paintings, I can tell what I was listening to as I painted them.

Any comments on your new show with Angela King Gallery? 

Many of the images in the show had a big impact on my teenage years – the Statue of Liberty, the Campbell’s Soup can. I met Andy Warhol at a show he had in Denver. Warhol wrote a dedication to me in a copy of his book (Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again), “To Andy from Andy”, and drew a little Campbell’s Soup can in the middle. Meeting him made such an impression on me -- that's why I'm so glad to be able to exhibit the Pop art character of my work in this show at Angela King Gallery.

A Collaboration in Paint

Pop Windows - New Paintings   Mark & Elena Erickson’s love affair with paint came about easily from the start. Once they entered the studio together for the first time it was apparent they could work well in a true partnership and accomplish something special. This has led to a remarkable collaboration. Mark and Elena have gone on a journey of imagination together through the medium of paint. In their collaborations, paint is given the power to visually echo their shared experiences, environment and emotions.

 According to Mark, “One’s life and the very place one works gets into the paintings; works overflow in graphic pop reasonings, psychedelic twists and turns of events blend into the imagination.” The energy inherent in this collaboration is palpable; the works push the limits of what paint can do to act upon our understanding of emotion.

 In the Summer of 2018, Elena and I began working on a new series of paintings. We call the works, ‘Pop Windows,’ Views through a window or a doorway is the obvious first assumption when viewing these canvases. The elements of Pop colors and images swirl over the luscious backgrounds. In one regard They are abstract images and fall into our continued work in abstract expressionism, yet there are elements of a collage character and contemporary culture. Torn away billboards and sanded down surfaces where the images of Birds continue to fly and fish swim through the channels of the built up paint.

 The works are all hand painted acrylic on canvas. Each painting is a unique story. The titles can sometimes give away some of the mystery, other times the painting becomes ethereal. But it is for the viewer to assemble the shapes into their own story.

 Brush strokes intertwine and become one. Colors mesh and shapes become lyrical and melodic. Painterly gestures expand the palette of colors and illusion of depth are enhanced.

 The painting studio in Oakland where sunlight pours through a twenty foot wall of windows, enables experimentation with light and paint, casting shadows and silhouettes on the walls. Playing with reflections and color, mixing paint at random, we attempt to capture an exciting Pop energy in these paintings

 Elena grew up in the country-side of northern Switzerland outside of city life and influences. The forest surrounded her home and most life adventures were motivated by nature.

 In our collaborations we attempt to exhibit the travels among the surf lanes of texture and pigment. Truly the sky is the limit and the seamless attempt to collaborate in earnest.

 Mark & Elena Erickson - Oakland & Venice, California 2018

Interview with Richard Currier

According to Richard, the most difficult task for many artists is to explain their artwork to someone who asks, “Why is this done?” or “What does this mean?”. Unlike a work of literature, which must be read to find the message which lies within the words and pages, a painting exists in its entirety right on the surface. Everything the artist intended is exposed for everyone to see in the completed painting.

It is up to the viewer to decide if the work deserves his attention. For the artist, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions of “why?” or “what?” posed by the imagery. The viewer, assuming he is intrigued by a painting, must find his own answers. Often this results in a wide variety of interpretations, because the response of one viewer may be completely different from another‘s. Therein lies the beauty of art. The questions are always the same; it is the response that changes from viewer to viewer, from one period of time to another, and from one set of circumstances to another. Therein, I think, lies the purpose for art. It mirrors the changing human condition in the responses of its viewers.

As a painter of ‘real’ objects, I have always been drawn towards dramatic imagery that uses contrasting elements of color, shape and space. I paint until the objects become more than what they are. Although ‘realism’ is not necessarily the goal, this seems to result in a heightened reality to the images. I enjoy the balance of positive and negative space, pulling imagery from the space as well as pushing space back to expose the form. To me, the subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and form. The objects carry light and form within the space and provide a reference for the viewer. This relation of artwork and viewer is very important. Art is incomplete without its audience.

Landscapes, on the other hand, have their own aesthetic. Apart from social or political forms of art, they are a response to a time and place processed through the artist’s imagination. Based on my travels throughout my native Florida, I draw on my emotional responses to the mental images I have collected over the years. I focus not on the objects found in a landscape but on the spaces, infused with light, that lie between the objective realities. That is where I find the passion for painting.

Florida native, Richard Currier, is a master of representational oil painting. His mastery is not revealed in the subjects that he chooses to paint, but rather in the manner in which he represents them.

"Throughout my career I have explored a variety of subjects in various representational styles; however, the true subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and atmosphere."

The beginning of his artistic training was at the Ringling School of Art and Design, one of the few schools in the country at that time that concentrated on traditional skills of painting on canvas with a brush.

That infusion of skills led him to travel to Holland and France – particularly Amsterdam and Paris – to experience the scenes painted by 18th and 19th century masters that he loved. His current work might be seen as an outgrowth of the still lifes and landscapes of those earlier masters. His magnified still lifes of fruit and flowers enlarge upon the brilliantly highlighted banquet tables of Abraham van Beyeren, and the atmospheric power of his landscapes, recall the bucolic paintings of Willem Maris. In fact, Currier’s pursuit of “the fusion of light and atmosphere” is much like Maris’s motto,”I don’t paint cows, but rather effects of light.” The Dutch tradition runs through English landscape painting on down to Currier, whose impressions of Florida marshes and waters seem an evolutionary step beyond the work of J.M.W. Turner.

Currier built his house and studio himself, close to the Atlantic coast of Florida. He draws inspiration from the abundance of fruit and flowers, the light-bathed woods, and the storm-battered clouds and sea. But most of all, he is inspired by the ability of oil painting to achieve an almost operatic grandeur just by virtue of its techniques:

“I am intrigued by contrasting elements – color and shape, abstract and objectivity, balance and tension. I paint until the objects become more than what they are, existing in a turbulent atmosphere of substance and movement.”


Q) At what age did you first start to "paint" and what was the subject matter?

A) As far back as I remember I was always drawing. I grew up in a house with 4 sisters and my mother - so my subject was faces - usually women, and horses. (I think they were "male".) A lot of childhood photos catches me with my sketchbook and disconnected from the activity around me. I can see from those photos by age 6 or so that I had already found that place (mentally, psychologically) that I go to now when I work, or my head was up and facing towards the sky, looking inward rather than towards the viewer.

I only drew - pencil, graphite - until about age 25, I tried painting just once in high school when an art teacher wanted me to try. I didn’t like it so I never tried it again. my drawing progressed, typically, into photorealism and I became interested in drawing textures like cloth, leather and wood, etc. making them as realistic and tactile as I could. College made me stop drawing and being so safe and anal.

Q) Have you always painted figurative work?

A)The majority, yes. I find faces endlessly interesting, not necessarily the face structure but displays of some kind of emotion on the face, gestures and gestural, good, bad, darkness and joy - it’s all fascinating to me. I’ve read, and read, a lot about psychology and physiognomy these are my interests. The figure and face is also just a subject for me to practice and develop interests I have in line, positive/negative space, movement, colour and endless others.

Q) What were your early influences and were you exposed to art.

A) Books, museums galleries) I grew up in a small town and wasn’t exposed too much art until college. I remember being blown away by Jonathon Borofsky and any artwork that showed frantic-ness or rapid movement, everything influences. Everything I’ve seen and done has been absorbed.

Q) Any other "arty" people in family (brothers, sisters etc)

A) My mother and one sister had some skills but neither developed it

Q) Art training.

A) An art school - Minneapolis College of art and design. It jarred me into seeing things in ways than I had not been used to (coming from a small town it brought the concept of abstraction into my life and a lot of disorientation. People need that more. I definitely did, the thing I like to say most about art school is that it doesn’t teach you how to be a good painter, designer, and sculptor. It just makes you get a lot of the garbage over with faster.

Q) Did you ever want to do anything else and did you.

A) I worked as a designer through and after college. I liked it a lot but did it only for a few years. I took on some more menial work just to get by as an artist. I’ve worked as a framer and I worked for a signage business for a few years, I loved it, unfortunately, I often got fired from these jobs. I don’t work well for others if I don’t like the way they do things.

Q) What drives you?

A) Fear of dullness, well... yes

Q) What do you most like about your work?

A) It’s really me, I believe I keep it real

Q) What do you hate about your work?

A) Its temperamental, how I’m feeling each day will show through, it means I have to keep my life up and invigorated in order to work well. I need to be working well in order for my life to be working well. I need to keep my life satisfying in order for the work to be good. And I need to be producing good work to be happy..la de da my life and work are welded together, I have to keep tight control of this.

Q) As above about other people.

A) When they don’t say what they really mean.

Q) Explain a bit about the technical process you go through to achieve your work.

A) later

Q) Favourite colours.

A) Usually my favourites are red and yellow, the stronger and more saturated the better, I always have a secondary colour love at any given time, right now it a sort of blue-jeans blue, because my work is layers of colour on top of each other, combinations of colours next to each other or showing through are interesting to me, mixing a new colour or finding new pigment is driving fuel for work.

Part Two

I might be skipping around

Q) Favourite artist(s).

A) I don’t usually like to answer this question because there are far too many.

Q) Favourite music, writer, film of all time.

A) I listen to all and every music, I have to love the music I’m listening to while I work so I am endlessly searching for new things I haven’t heard, I guess trying to list names for any of these groups feels wrong to me, I have too many favourites, lately I put in Kirasawas "dreams" dvd during my down time and I’ve been watching "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" repeatedly, they are both very satisfying to me.

Q) What makes you laugh, cry.

A) I have some friends with great wit, they make me laugh, I cry whenever my feelings get hurt, but only for a few seconds.

Q) Most embarrassing moment.

A) You first

Q) What does in mean to you for people to love your work?

A) It’s great, but I feel pretty separated from the idea of this, I have a musician friend that said it best, he said that if he ever made it really "big" you'll find him in his basement playing his guitar.

Q) Does it bother you if people do not like it?

A) Not at all, it bothers me if a person thinks their opinion would affect something I’ve worked so hard on and feel so right about.

Q) Explain a bit about the objects in your paintings, what do they symbolise.

A) I have an idea that my few constant symbols and/or words cover nearly everything, since my work is generally a reflection of my state of mind or events in my life, I will sometimes (organically) put one of them in a piece, I should first mention that the beginning of nearly all my work starts with a stick figure - similar to child drawing, this is the first vantage point that I am stemming the piece from and it also is a place of "unknowing" I will give a list of a few symbols.

The bird on the shoulder represents the trusted companion. this began from a friend of mine that had several birds, they were so incredibly fragile and their entire life hinged on how carefully she cared for them, yet they were completely trusting of her, this signifies a solid association.

The house is about security and base, "home sweet" is a more dynamic and feeling perspective of this. The running horse represents unencumbered freedom and strength, also movement the writing (most of the time) on my work is rarely meant as literal, the words may be important at the moment but as the piece transforms they are often forgotten, it is often, also, more about handwriting (the shapes of the letters or words - as it expresses) than the words themselves.

The apple is about structure, base and core (no pun intended) its form is basic, to me it’s rather static and un-dynamic there are also many metaphors that the apple has been used for and it belongs in that group.

The pear can around as a spin-off from the apple, is about beauty and warmth, the shape, colours and taste are widely varied and , to me, much more elegant and beautiful than the apple. I tend to think of the apple as noun or verb and the pear as adjective and adverb.

The pea - which I rarely use - is a sort of solitary nothingness, its just a circle-form without any other distinguishing features, one amongst many. I usually use it in black and white also - which strips it of its only description - green.

I think one of the most constant things used throughout my work is the separation of line and mass (or form) it reinforces the transience of the moment and lapse of time, it signifies movement.

Q) Happiest time.

A) I tend to be rather manic, my happiest times happen often

Q) First exhibition.

A) I was naïve, I thought it was important. I can say now that it was right near the moment I started to plunge into destitution.

Q) Aspirations for the future both personally and with your work.

A) Im not sure where I picked this up, but its taboo to speak of this.

Q) What do you do to relax?

A) I sleep at night

Sorry for these one-liners, Sheana. I’m not able to connect to some of the questions.

Q) Plans for this year.

A) I’ve been stewing about sculpture for a long time now, trying to find materials or processes that seem right for me, this year, I’m hoping to make it work better.

Q) Who do you admire most in the World?

A) My cat, she's got it easy and doesn’t know any better.

Q) Who would you like to have dinner with?

A) Tony Greenberg, a man I’ve never been able to pin down.

Q) When and how do you know when a painting is complete.

A) This has always been obvious to me, the same way you know when you’re finished in the shower, all the parts are done.



Exclusive interview with Anne Bachelier

August 10, 2016 | Author: webSman

Anne Bachelier is a French artist and illustrator. Below is an exclusive interview with Anne Bachelier by the Miroir Magazine.

Q: Since when have you been an artist? Tell us about your choice of media.
A: I may almost say – since I have learned to hold a pencil! Certainly, I did not feel myself like an artist yet, but I was the one in the class who was always asked for a drawing. I used to draw on the side of my exercise books (even during the classes!).

Soon painting became accessible. First, gouache and then oil painting later in my adolescence. My father was an amateur painter (Sunday Painter) and it was familiar to me. Oil painting, ink, water colors, engraving… I have still so many things to learn!

Q: Do you have an art education? If yes, from which institution? Or are you a self-taught artist?
A: I have received an art education in a little Art School (Beaux Arts) in the south of France.

Q: The process and technique you have chosen?
A: Oil painting. I love its richness, texture, depth and transparency, as well as the luminosity I find in it. Recently I have re-discovered the ‘Overseas Blue’… fabulous! I may never reach the same result with acrylic.
Pencil and ink exceptionally when I travel, for example, as there is no single day when I don’t use one of these mediums.

Q: Did your family encourage you in your artistic activity or your artist’s career?
A: I have never had any difficulties at this point. One day, my parents simply proposed me to enter in an Art School. May be because my father was an amateur painter, as I have mentioned in the first question. (By the way, recently I have learned that in his youth he followed drawing courses and has even won an award).

Q: Is there any particular person who encouraged you in your artistic endeavors or your art career?
A: This question is close to the previous one, as i have always been followed and encouraged by my close family.

My husband Claude (more than 45 years!) has been always near. We met each other when I was still a student in Art School and he has always supported me. The ‘discouragements’, if I can use this term, came mostly from Art School professors. From their point of view, I was certainly not an artist. At that period (end of the sixties), one of the most remarkable artist was Vasarely.

By the way, I have hardly learned anything concerning the oil painting technique at school. What I know about this medium, I have found in books, discussions with other painters… and also through my failures. I was often in the etching studio, and this has brought a lot for my drawing practice.

Q: What are your hopes, dreams and future objective?
A: I would like to always move forward, not to re-copy myself, not to disappoint those who have followed me for a long time. I would like to share my work with those who have not discovered them yet. To have projects on-going until my last breath… and to be able to realize them.
I would like to paint, to draw, to illustrate books, to have an intact emotion in front of beautiful paper, a color that I have never used, a wonderful light. To keep the capacity of being enchanted, to have a hand that does not tremble, an eye that sees the light. The happiness is to paint, to draw.

Q: If you could have an opportunity to realize a project with full funding, what would it be?
A: I was always fascinated with Japanese glossed screens… I would love to work on such a project; I go on dreaming. Not in oil painting, but a work on the paper for ink, or in the mixed media in order that later, the work could be transferred on the screen and glossed – why not (I continue to dream) by a Japanese Master of Gloss…

Q: If you could meet a departed artist, who would it be and why?
A: Of course, many names come to my mind. Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Van Dyck, Knopf… and certainly I forget to name others.

I make part of the artistic group, the movement called ‘Libellule’ (‘Dragonfly’). Each year we work on a theme. In 2013 the theme was an homage to Masters. We were asked to pay an homage to a Master who had determined our vocation to become a Painter. After reflection and diving into my memory, i have recollected that one of my first greatest emotions in painting was during a visit to the museum of Louvre. I was twelve or thirteen years old and I was fascinated by David’s painting ‘Madame Recamier’, by its silence; the painting so very different from large frescoes of this painter. He is not really my favorite artist, but I am very curious, interrogative. I would have loved to find myself in the past and see how the great ateliers have functioned – as nowadays, the artists, in most cases, are alone in front of their easels. I would love to assist to the working session without being noticed…

Q: The theme of enchanting has always interested you?
A: When I had left the Art School, it took me several years to free myself. As i have noticed, frankly, I was not in the spirit of time with my paintings. This way, I graduated with the feeling that maybe painting was not for me. And then one day I thought that life is too short and who could stop me from doing what I love?

Q: What was your childhood like?
A: My childhood? I have spent my childhood in Bretagne, I was born there. Life’s coincidences has brought my Italian family in that region. From early childhood I have been listening to the legends about Broceliande, about stones, that move at night, about fairies… and I believed in all this. My grand-father told me stories he invented himself…
Adding to this that I was a dreamer-child and I transposed in my drawings things I imagined. The ground was fertile. The elements of enchanting in my art always take roots from childhood.
I am a woman, who has her ‘feet on the ground’, but I dream all the time. Inside of me always stays an amazed little girl.

The characters of my legends appear through the haze raising over a pond, sun rays on the leaves, my grand daughters lost in their dreaming.
It is enough for me to have in front of me a white page, a canvas or a paper and several colors… it’s as easy as this!

Q: What inspires your creations?
A: When I am home, there is no single day when I am not in my studio. It is necessary for me. I always have close to me some paper, a pencil… and all that I see or feel might become the starting point of a painting or a drawing. I am sensible to everything that surrounds me. When I go for a walk with my dog, when I gather mushrooms, my spirit frees itself out and a door opens. I rediscover a little girl who invented stories, and who could with a few blades of grass create ephemeral characters.
The elements of what I have seen or heard, the associations of colors and light return in my paintings weeks and even months later after my voyages.
I half-open the doors, and whatever the age is, there are always the ‘visitors’ to enter in my works, and this is the happiness of painting…

Translated from French by Dasha Balashova. Specially for Miroir Magazine.  

© 2012-2017 Miroir Magazine. All Rights Reserved


Art Business News


Vibrant Blue Bookshelf Buddha

Interview with Marlene Rose

ABN: What inspires your work – where do your ideas come from? An artist, a culture, a period of time?

Rose: All of my work, whether figurative or abstract, has a spiritual aspect to it. Looking East was inevitable as the paintings, calligraphy, architecture, even the clothing of the East seems to share that common quality. While the Buddha faces that I’m known for are inspired by Buddhas from Vietnam, China and India, the concept of the face itself has come to mean much more to me. It seems that the imagery transcends culture and appeals to a universal common thread in humanity, of the striving to be bigger than oneself, and to dissolve the man-made barriers between cultures and peoples.

These threads of human imagery, passing through cultures and time inspire me. I am compelled to weave and recompose their nuances, all to communicate the immortal vibrancy of the human spirit. The glass may look like a relic of some ancient time, but each piece holds inside itself the sum of the sharp shards of what I have seen, of unnamed emotions, of visions, concepts and memories.

ABN: Why glass? Why this process? I have read the description you sent about the process, but I guess the question revolves around how did you come to discover the process and what draws you to it.

Rose: I am a glass artist. More specifically, a sandcast glass artist.

I pour liquid molten glass into sand molds I have carefully prepared. It is in the ancient tradition of all metal casting, going back thousands of years to the Ages of Iron and Bronze. Indeed, the Romans and Phoenicians and many others too, took this technique and used it to make made glass.

But glass in this ancient tradition tended to be made only on an industrial scale. It was just in the 1980’s that the heating and (very) controlled cooling of the glass became viable on a Studio level, where individual artists could create their own unique pieces of art.

My teacher, Gene Koss in New Orleans, learnt this technique of casting glass from one of the founders of the American Studio Glass Movement, and I am very fortunate to have been introduced to this unique technique while it was in its infancy.

The technique differs from the blown glass with which we are all familiar. It is far closer to the fine-art tradition of casting objects, something which appealed to my artistic sensibilities more than the craft-based tradition of blown glass.  Gene always said that a piece had to work as a sculpture first, and that if it should look good no matter what it was made from. Glass gives a very special aspect of life to the work. Glass changes all the time, depending on the light that flows through it, and it is the changing light in which we live which gives us its subtle inner beauty.

ABN: What are your goals for today? For the future?

Rose: Keep making high quality art which evokes an emotional response in the viewer.

ABN: We appreciate the time with Marlene—her goals sum up a career built with the future always in mind. We can’t wait to see her next compelling collection.

Reconstruction of an Emotion

Reconstruction of an Emotion III by Eddy Stevens. Oil on canvas.

Reconstruction of an Emotion III by Eddy Stevens. Oil on canvas.

Angela King Gallery reception held in conjunction with Dirty Linen on Royal Street

August 12, 2017 5 - 7 pm

Visionary painter Eddy Stevens believes that the real 'truth' of existence relies on the imagination to reveal the invisible. That what we normally perceive as reality is nothing more than an illusion which hides a greater vision and potential. Surrealism brought the imagination to the front burner of the creative process. It threw out what many see as limitations in perception and replaced it with unlimited vision. The ability to eliminate certainties and free our thinking to include the unexplored, imagination, spirit force which helps us discover new worlds of thought and visual understanding.

Gambit Magazine

Children of the Whitney

Review: Woodrow Nash at Angela King Gallery

The sculptor takes his cues from African tribal fashions 

D. Eric Bookhardt May 2, 2016 - 4:00 pm

As we reflect on another New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, it can seem ironic that such an ecstatic event could have been an indirect result of one of history's most horrific episodes: the Atlantic slave trade. Without the forced interaction of such diverse cultures there would be no jazz, blues or rock music as we know it today. In 2014, the newly restored Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana opened as the first American house museum to reveal what plantation life was really like. Among the historic displays are some startling contemporary clay sculptures by Woodrow Nash. Perhaps the most haunting are some life-size children who turn up in various settings like side characters in Mark Twain stories. Unlike other such museums, the Whitney elucidates the harshness of plantation life, a brutality made all the more unnerving by the vulnerable innocence of Nash's children.

 A more varied array of his works on view at the Angela King Gallery includes some sinuous lifelike figures inspired by 17th-century African styles of dress and adornment. Although rendered with hints of art nouveau and Matisse-like flourishes, their presence is as elemental as Africa itself, and the colorful glazes seen in a view of the artist and his creations (pictured) reinforce that sub-Saharan aesthetic. For instance, a sculpture of a tall, slender woman, Almitra #9, conveys the lithe grace of a Masai princess with large copper disk earrings and vibrant African fabric patterns underscoring her regal aura. A bust of a male warrior, Husani #4, sports a white glaze reminiscent of the pigments used in tribal rituals also, while highlighting the patterns etched into most of the adult figures — incised designs that suggest scarification but also probably help them survive the intense heat of the ceramic kiln. At the entrance to the gallery, a cluster of Nash's ceramic children recalls old New Orleans' ever-present street urchins; it doesn't take much to imagine them as the young Louis Armstrong's ragtag friends and playmates.