Monday, May 11, 2009

Meet August

"I dig in the ground to plant my trees.

I dirty my dress and scrape my knees.

A seed in the ground is worth two in the hand.

I know what grows under the earth where I stand."

She is the young girl with dark hair running into the wind, her face always obscured, dirt always under her fingernails, elusive smile everywhere....enchanting

1. August seems to be a recurring character in your work, please tell us a little about her...
August is a very special character to me. I named her after my first daughter (Evangeline August). Originally, I was drawing her as an older child, maybe a teenager. But I guess I was not ready to think of her as being that grown up, and started drawing her to look much younger, which sort of lead to the creation of all her little friends as they look today.

2. I find myself relating to your characters quite well, more than a sense of "Oh That's cute" there is a sense of, "Hey, I did that too!" Tell us about the use of children as characters in your artwork...

There is something about drawing children that really gets to me, and I think some viewers too. I always feel as though I am looking for something that I lost but want to have back. In the process of painting them I feel sort of connected to that world where everything is new and fresh and amazing, and it's all a complete mystery. I think we all want to go back there from time to time. And I really do think we can.

3. Any theories on how viewers relate to art?
I think we are most connected to art that reminds us of ourselves in some way. We feel something for the character in a painting because we can imagine how the character feels, and it is as if we are right there inside the painting. Viewers might feel more connected to their own childhood when looking at a painting, in the same way I was connected to my own when I painted it.

4. I know your artist's philosophy changes often, but all the same, if you can express one, please do.....

I am what I am (stole that one from Popeye)

5. Are there other characters with lives of their own in your work? Can you tell us anything about Andrew?

The real Andrew is such a great kid. He is one of my students at the school for dyslexics where I teach art. He fixes the computers when us teachers do something dumb. Most of his art projects in class are elaborate blue prints for ski lifts that he wants to design when he grows up, or electricity grids. One Monday not too long ago I told him that he could pick the teams for kickball on Wednesday. The next day he brought in a long contract for me to sign about letting him pick the teams, and that I would make everyone participate unless they had a note from their doctor. I get such a kick out of Andrew.

6. If you could step into one of your paintings, which would it be and why?

I like the one called "Taking it on the Road."

It's the one with the boy in clown makeup and the crow. It makes me think about my great uncle Fozy, who was a hobo, among other things. He used to stay with my grandparents right up the road from me and we were with them all the time. He had a pet monkey that lived mostly in the bathroom, which my grandma hated. I always thought of it as his sidekick that would have crazy adventures with him while they road the rails. That is what I was thinking about when I painted the boy with his crow. Like maybe they had an act that they would take from town to town, or wherever the wind might take them.

7. Tell me about your earlier creative memories, how does your art now relate to, or improve upon your first work?

Art really saved me growing up. I was (and still am) very dyslexic. I remember during class reading time, holding a book up to my face and pretending to read it, but having absolutely no idea what the words said. I felt so inferior to everyone else. Kids started to notice that I could draw, and all of a sudden I had something that I could hold on to and be proud of. I would get lost in art as a kid, and I wouldn't think about what I was going to make or what colors I would use, or anything. I would just start creating. Painting these children feels that same way to me. It's like re-connecting to that young artist that I somehow forgot about.

8. Wait, I have to ask. Where does your signature come from? And what does it mean? Is it a secret?

My signature is sort of a hold over from my past obsession with making Celtic knots. It looks a little bit like a table or something, but it is actually my version of a Celtic letter A.

9. Why Leaves of Grass?

Okay, this might sound sort of strange, but I really feel a connection to Walt Whitman. My mother used to tell me that I was born a hundred years too late because of my reluctance to use technology. I sometimes feel like I belong in the past more than the present. Not sure how to explain that exactly. I use a computer now, but still don't have a cell phone, which my friends hate.

I guess I am trying to make sense of things in the same way that Walt was trying to do with the approach of the industrial revolution. He just wasn't quite ready for it. He wrote and edited Leaves of Grass over more than thirty years. It progressed as a work of art as he progressed as a person, and to me Walt is Leaves of Grass, and Leaves of Grass is Walt. I hope that some day I can melt into my own work in the same way that he did.

My favorite quote:

"I celebrate myself, and sing of myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom that belongs to me as good belongs to you."

He was thirty seven when he wrote that.

Post script

True to his word, this Etsy artist does resemble a very young Walt Whitman. For now, I'll leave that to the collective imagination...

And P.S. A big Happy Birthday today to my Dad! Glad I could be here.


Audrey said...

That's a really great feature!! Love the art! Amazing.

Sophie said...

Beautiful post! Loved the feature, loved the real Andrew story a lot!

Sophie ^-^