As you know I have been a fan of your mesmerizing surrealist ladies for quite some time. How did your creative journey begin as an artist? Did you ever think you would be at the point where you are today?
I never thought I would be doing it for a living, that’s for sure. I honestly didn’t think it was possible unless I did commission portraits or illustrations and even that didn’t seem like a way to earn enough money to live. And anyway, I wasn’t interested in those particular fields. The idea of making money just painting whatever I wanted seemed like too much of a pipe dream. So I never went for the proper art training and the technique I developed was what resulted.
Your style is unique to you. Your female subjects have elongated faces. How did you develop this unique style?
Yeah, a lot of people ask me if I was influenced by Modigliani or something. I love his paintings but his work had nothing to do with why my figures were stretched out. I just always made my faces too long, by accident. In all of my early work I had to start the faces over again because I kept noticing the noses went way too far down. I used to have to keep a mirror handy beside my canvases because seeing them backwards was the only way I could catch the elongations before it was too late. Finally, I just stopped trying to fix it and this made my life a lot easier.
Your recent exhibition B-Girls at Corey Helford Gallery took you on a new creative journey. Can you please tell me more about this series and the transformational journey it took you on?
The B-Girls happened by accident. It was supposed to be Veiled Hearts-Volume 2. I had started a really big series called Veiled Hearts that I had planned in two parts. It was a year-long project. The first batch of Veiled Hearts girls were really gloomy, but then these other girls started showing up that were polar opposites to all that dreariness. I approach every series like a concept album. The new girls seemed like the b-side to Veiled Hearts so, instead of Veiled Hearts-Volume 2, I decided to call them the B-girls.
You recently did a “take over” at Beautiful Bizarre magazine. What did that entail and what was your experience like?
Well, I love Danijela, Editor In Chief and Co-founder of Beautiful Bizare. It’s become one of the best forums for the genre and they’ve been hugely supportive of my work from the beginning, so I was delighted when they asked me to do it. They told me I could pick my favourite artists, living or dead, but I decided to only pick living contemporary artists. It felt like playing my favourite records for a group of friends. Loved it! There are so many artists working today that I adore and was excited to share. The other day I heard someone say that nothing exciting is happening in contemporary art and I couldn’t relate to that at all. I’m always discovering artists that take my breath away. There’s so much great work out there. I just think we’re overwhelmed with all the visual stimulus.
You typically use oils as your predominant medium. Why is this your preference and do you see yourself experimenting with other mediums in the future?
Sometimes I work in water-colours, but I had such a difficult time learning the alchemy of oil paint that I don’t relish the thought of starting over with a new medium. I started painting on panel this year and that’s been a revelation. The smooth surface compliments my work because there’s so much blending and without the grain of the canvas it’s like glass. It’s given my girls a new translucence.
What inspires you to begin creating? Can you please tell me more about your creative process?
It’s very off the cuff. I should do sketches and plan things more but the truth is I don’t do any of that. I just start with an idea, then I look for a bunch of reference photos on the Internet to use as a framework for my work. I would probably save a lot of time if I just did a little more prep because a lot of my girls change on the fly. Sometimes I end up revising and revising until it finally feels visually correct.
What is next for you on your creative journey? Do you have any exciting new projects in the works?
I have a new solo exhibition opening this August in Toronto at Red Head Gallery. It’s called Shinigami. Just before the B-girls opened in Los Angeles, my mother passed away and when I finally got back to painting two months later the theme of death was unavoidable. This series was the probably most difficult project I’ve ever worked on, but I think it’s resulted in some of my best work.