Monday, March 31, 2008
I decided to keep the interviews separate so you could get a better feel for each artist and it really is delightful to read them one after another. So today meet Paris Gerrard.
mj: How would you describe your own style?
paris: It's what moves me...bohemian, city, fresh wet paint and a newly primed canvas, Sally Mann photography, the color of rain, Pablo Neruda, Prussian blue, organic green olives, afternoon shadows, used book stores, starting a new book and savoring a last page, simplicity, Lumihai beach, ripe figs picked this morning, sun warmed lilikoi--picked in the afternoon, negative shapes, vintage wallpaper, music, losing myself in a painting, a sunny day in February, enjoying the moment...
mj: How long have you been painting?
paris: I grew up in a family of artists. I have always been surrounded by and absorbed in art. My earliest art memories are from around four years old; my mother provided my sisters and me with a very cool, large, tooled leather turquoise book that we would draw in. It was a reflection of our feelings. My family moved to the island of Kauai when I was around nine years old. There, I was enrolled in a private school that had a strong emphasis in art. During my teen years, I was gifted with an amazing art teacher who helped me see with a new set of eyes. I relish in the beauty of everyday objects. Being immersed in art at such a young age has altered the way I perceive the world. I believe that I experience a kind of artist's intuition. My mind explores visual surroundings, noticing planes and patterns, values and edges. I have taken numerous painting workshops and college art classes to further develop my skills.
Art has given me the privilege of expressing, creating, and experimenting. I never really planned on being an artist as a career. I painted because it was a passion for me. I sold my first painting when I was 12 years old. I can't exactly remember what it looked like, but I remember how thrilling and enjoyable the process of creating it was. It's exciting for me to realize that I'm following my passion, and I realize how fortunate I am to be able to call this my job.
mj: Who are your inspirations and influences?
paris: I see the entire art scene as a merging and melding organic whole--constantly changing, but always growing from what preceded it. People reshape previous forms of art to fit the current situations and sensibilities of the time. It's an ever-unfolding narrative. As modern art restlessly investigates the boundaries of art, we must credit the postmodern period that has opened new possibilities for interaction with the audience. If we, as viewers, are aware of art of the past, we will be able to appreciate the many varieties of creativity that await us in the future.
I feel that my art is inspired and influenced by living artists such including my mother, Jill Barton, as well as Alex Kanevsky, Audrey Kawasaki, Sally Mann, Joseph Todorovitch, Peggi Kroll, and Lucong just to name a few. I love artists from the past such as Mary Cassatt who was influenced by Degas as well the Japanese wood block prints (U kiyo-e) that were new to their paradigm. Others artists include Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Sorolla. As I mentioned above, it seems hard to draw the line of where and when any artist's muse comes from; since art is basically constantly being "reinvented". In my paintings I try to absorb what I think is beautiful in each artists work.
mj: What does style mean to you?
paris: Style is my life, my love and my soul.
Style is who and what we are. Style is a reflection of the characters that you play as you move through different roles in your life. Examining my past, I see how my style has evolved and changed as I have. I hope that my style represents at least some deeper aspects of myself. Part of being human seems to contain an innate longing to create and express. I wish for everyone an opportunity to express and explore their uniqueness.
mj: Does fashion influence or inspire your work?
paris: Yes, fashion is a big influence in my work. I am a collector of images. My computer is like a magpie's nest--it is filled with all sorts of images that aesthetically appeal to me. Fashion images, vintage and modern, fabrics, photographs, sounds, drawings, etc. In my last art show I choose the theme of Legs/Feet/Shoes. This was a really fun theme for me, playing with different fabrics, bags, shoes and girls. I raided my sister’s closets and then made them pose to create the right looks for the paintings. It was fun to play stylist and photographer and artist.
mj: Do you have a favorite piece that you've done? And why?
paris: I have to admit that when I first began painting, I sometimes felt attached to certain paintings. I think that as an artist we have to learn to let our paintings go and realize that "your best work is yet to come". I have heard a few artists say, "Keep your best work". I have a few paintings that I have kept. I enjoy saving some of my favorites because when I look back at some of them I can remember things such as how I was feeling in my life and reflect on how much my art has changed.
mj: Are you working on anything new--can you tell me about it?
paris: I've always enjoyed drawing and painting the female figure. Currently I have been painting female faces. I love the personality and intensity that I feel I am capturing in these pieces. I am trying to garner a series of new work for a showing. Painting for me is a paradox. It is a process that allows me to sort through past experiences or explore uncharted emotional territory, while at the same time being present in the very moment. I love the immediacy of painting, how it brings me into a direct and instant involvement with the work. It almost seems as though the painting itself is alive and active in the process. I often begin with an image that speaks to me, or if I am working abstractly, with perhaps just a feeling or color. Sometimes I feel my work is bold and serious, sometimes it feels light, perhaps even sweet. No matter what, for me, it is an evolution that becomes a process of discovery. I love to try to recreate for others the way that I see the world.
mj: What would your ideal project be?
paris: I share a fantastic art studio with my artist mother, Jill Barton. Our studio is housed in an old brick building, so we have beautiful, exposed brick walls, high ceilings and lots of north light. My mother and I, greatly inspire and influence one another. Working in the same space ignites high creative energy. We currently have plans underway to collaborate on some paintings of my beautiful, tall, big blue eyed, younger sister. We want to incorporate her, as well as fashion, into a series of paintings. We love collaborating and are excited to see what will manifest. I will be sure to share some of these images with you when we are ready.
Ideally, I love just creating art for art's sake--bringing into form, something in me that wants to be born. I love how Gustave Klimt said, "Paint to please yourself, not the masses". Art is such an amazing career because you are working for yourself and literally the sky has no limits. Lastly, I would like to say to all you readers, "follow your passion...go for it!"
Thanks so much Paris for stopping by! Everyone, please make sure to check back tomorrow because you won't want to miss Jill Barton and her beautiful work.