Robyn and I were in a mixed-media painting class wih Glenn Hirsch, through UC Berkeley Extension, about two or three years ago when I first started exploring painting. I was impressed at that time with her large rooster paintings on rice paper. Fast forward to a few months ago and I recognized her at a workshop for Arc Gallery. Small world. I was just starting this interview project and realized she would be a perfect candidate. Happy for me, she agreed to participate! I'm so pleased to share her thoughts on her process in this month's interview. Enjoy!

How would you describe your work?

 

I create surreal, humorous worlds rich in vibrancy and detail through mixed media. My style is representational with abstractions that shift perspectives, giving the viewer the chance to see an everyday subject, like tools or roosters, in a new light.

 

I hope to make you smile with my work, and invite you to look closer. My pieces have fun and funkiness, spirit and irony. See the real in an altered context.

 

What mediums do you most frequently use?

 

I use acrylic ink on paper or birchwood panel and mixed media, which in my case, means I use a lot of special papers to collage. I often use chicken wire as a tool for creating textured backgrounds.

 

Describe your workspace.

 

I have two workspaces -- for working on larger pieces or for when I really want to focus I have a studio above the Arc gallery, but because I’m working full time, most of the time I take over my kitchen and part of my living room. At home I have a kitchen island with a granite top that I cover with a shower curtain.

About the Project

I created this series because I was constantly meeting amazing artists in the Bay Area, mostly woman. I wanted to know more about their work, process and who they are so, I  created a project that would give me a reason to contact them. The interviews help me grow as an artist and I hope that by sharing them others will benefit too.

Describe a typical day in the studio for you. Do you keep any routines? Are you a full time artist or do you have another job?

 

I work full time, so, sadly, there are no typical days in the studio.  Instead,  after I eat dinner I’ll get art stuff out and work for an hour or an hour and a half. In terms of process, I usually do a number of backgrounds at one time so I have backgrounds ready when I begin making the pieces.

 

On weekends I stop by Sightglass on my way to the studio to get coffee and a scone and then go straight to the studio and stay there for three or four hours. I also have to do errands and want to see people on weekends, so I rarely spend a full day in the studio. I get work done by working a little bit consistently over time.

The one time I get to spend full days working is at art camp in the summer when I go to my friend Leslie’s studio in the Santa Cruz mountains. There I work from 7 am to 5 or 6 pm at night, sometimes later, depending on what’s going on. It’s easier to concentrate when you have a few other people making work to keep you on track.

 

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

 

Roosters!

 

What’s some good advice you got that you would like to share with other artists?

 

I’ve been given all sorts of little pieces of advice but I can’t think of anything that stands out. If you ask me about certain techniques I can tell you things... for example, if you don’t want F&W ink to smear when you put medium on it spray it with fixative first.

 

What are your thoughts about being a woman and an artist? How does it inform your work, if it does?

 

It doesn’t really. I know roosters are all male, but I paint them in particular because of variety, colors and fun. Seeing men overrepresented everywhere, at work, art shows and in the media -- pisses me off, but it doesn’t affect my work because my work isn’t about that.

Is there anything about the Bay Area that is especially beneficial or not so beneficial to artists? Any Bay Area artists that you follow or admire?

 

There are lots of artists I like, and lots of people to talk to. People don’t go to galleries so much here, not like they do in NY or LA, so that’s a big difference.

 

Who are you reading, looking at or listening to these days?

 

I’m reading neuroscientist Oliver Sach’s memoir, On the Move, and Philosophy of Walking, by by Frédéric Gros.

 

Any final words or thoughts or upcoming projects that you would like to share? What are you working on these days?

 

Roosters! Stay tuned to see how they evolve. Sign up for my mailing list here for a chance to win a free print. I’ll send announcements about upcoming opportunities to see my roosters and me at various open studios

© 2019 Nancy Benton