contemporary fine art
June 2013 Volume 2 No. 6
ARTSPAN Artist Spotlight
Artist Interview A Mixed Media Artist
When did you realize you loved art and wanted to be an artist? When I was very young my parents took me to see a local theater production of The Sound of Music. I remember being immensely impressed by the kids singing and acting on stage. It was magical. And it’s quite possible I’ve wanted to create my own magic ever since. I also remember being in fifth grade and having my fourth grade teacher get me out of class to go draw. That made me feel very special. I helped her create a huge Wizard of Oz drawing for her classroom. Who has been your mentor, or greatest influence to date? I think of the artists that influence me as my heroes. Being a self-taught artist, I’ve learned about my heroes through books and movies. I’ve learned about playfulness through Alexander Calder’s wonderful circus, and honesty through Frida Kahlo’s striking self-portraits. I’ve learned about dedication through Niki de Saint Phalle’s incredible tarot garden, and spirit through Remedios Varo’s ethereal paintings. I’ve learned about inventiveness through Georges Méliès’ ingenious films, and authenticity through Charles Chaplin’s artistry. They each had their own vision of why and how to make art, and this has influenced me greatly. Who is another living artist you admire and why? I admire John Frame who has been working on his film “The Tale Of The Crippled Boy” for several years. His vision, dedication, and artistry are an inspiration to me. What is your favorite surface to paint on? I end up layering paint and sanding almost every surface I work on. As wood lends itself beautifully to this technique, it is a favorite of mine. What are your favorite materials to use? I love working with polymer clay, wood, cardboard, paper, felt, and fabrics. The more of these materials I can incorporate in one project, the better. Do you have a favorite color palette? I am very particular about my colors, and I select a different color palette for each body of work. What is your favorite color in your closet? Any color in the red, pink, or purple range. How often do you work on your work? I divide my time between studio, portfolio, and promo work. It’s not enough to make the work. I also have to be organized and promote it. The ideal work week is 25 hours studio time and 15 hours portfolio/promo time. However, if I’m in the middle of a project, I will spend most of my hours in the studio. In the same way, once the project is done, I can spend a whole week just updating my portfolio and doing promo work. What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for. I’d like to be remembered for being authentic. For better or for worse, I am committed to making art my way. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity? I love to start projects, so I don’t think I have too much trouble with fear of failure. I think what I struggle with is called fear of success. This is the fear of how our lives will inevitably change when we realize our dreams. In order to avoid facing the reality of having success, I convince myself that my work needs to be perfect. Since it will never be good enough to be perfect, I forever postpone finishing it. I’ve learned that perfectionism leads to procrastination.
©2007 Alex Mitchell, FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, “Dorothy” series Acrylic on wood, mixed media, 34” x 34” x 12” Photography by Oronoz, Madrid
How do you overcome these obstacles? I have to make a long task list in order to finish my projects since I’m always worried I will forget something. Then I focus on completing just one task at a time. The hardest part is to get myself going, so I start with an easy task. As soon as I get that done, I feel so good about it that I start on the next task. At that point I just go into working mode and leave my doubts behind. What are your inspirations for your work? I’m inspired by the mysteries of life. To name just a few, I’d say the mystery inherent in nature and the universe, the way children draw and play, and concepts about time or destiny. What is your favorite way to get creative juices flowing? If I need to get unstuck, then going for a swim helps me. My creativity flows better when I’m relaxed. If I’m trying to decide on a new project, I love to look through my “idea file.” It’s full of notes about project ideas and images of things I like. Which work of yours is your favorite? My new poem picture book is my favorite work so far. It’s taken me over a year to finish and there have been many challenges along the way. All the pages of the book are reproduced from hand-painted originals. I’ve put more of my heart into this project than any other, and it has been the scariest for me to finish.
Artist Interview A Mixed Media Artist
ARTSPAN Artist Spotlight
©2005 Alex Mitchell, WORRY DOLLS BOX, “Misery Loves Company” series Acrylic on wood, mixed media, 16” X 17” x 8” Photography by Oronoz, Madrid
Right: ©2008 Alex Mitchell, ELECTROCAT, “El Happy Mundo” series Acrylic on canvas, mixed media, 57” x 25” x 12” Photography by Oronoz, Madrid
Alex Mitchell Up Close and Personal What book are you reading this week? The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Do you have a favorite televion show? I love watching crime shows. What is your favorite food? I’m mad about avocados, apples, and pistachios. What color sheets are on your bed right now? Sheets with a striped motif in pastel colors. What are you most proud of in your life? I’m most proud of not giving up on my dream to make art. Who would you love to interview? I’d love to interview Remedios Varo. Do you have a passion or hobby other than painting/sculpting? I love to swim and I’m nuts about watching movies. Who would you love to do in mixed media? I’d love to create a mixed media work inside a box in homage to Joseph Cornell. If you were an animal what would you be and why? I’d be a dolphin because I think they are amazing. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three things, what would they be? I’d want a pencil and a sketchbook. And when I run out of pencil and paper, I’d need an instrument to entertain myself. I’d take my violin so that I could finally devote time to practicing. Then when they rescue me, they’d find me playing the blues on my fiddle. Share something with us that few people know about you. I can’t keep chocolate, cookies, or chips in the cupboard because when I open a bag I end up eating the whole thing. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? My fantasy home would be near a forest that has a river running through it. And then I’d want enough land around the house to make a crazy sculpture garden when I get old.
ARTSPAN Artist Spotlight
Interview Al artspan Artist Mixed Media Artist
©2012 Alex Mitchell, BLUE MOMENT (detail), “On the Divinity of Time” series Acrylic on polymer clay and mixed media, 10” x 6” x 6” Photography by Oronoz, Madrid
©2009 Alex Mitchell, VANAR Acrylic and paper on canvas, 2 Photography by Oronoz, Mad
RPY IN MY MIND, “In My Mind” series 23” x 20” x 3” drid
©2010 Alex Mitchell, BRUTUS, “Me-Monsters” series Acrylic on cardboard and mixed media, 24” x 23” x 20” Photography by Oronoz, Madrid
Thinking Inside of Doodle” Arti
Madrid-based mixed media artist Alex Mitch
Inspired by the infamous “Exquisite Corpse” drawing game of the Paris Surrealists in the 1920’s, the “Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project required a group of artists to doodle in succession on a little paper scroll set inside a small box. A talented group of international artists signed up to participate, and I took the task of preparing the materials and documenting each step of the project on a blog. Thus, the doodle-by-mail adventure began. From the beginning, I wanted this project to utilize everyday materials, so that anyone could make their own scroll-in-a-box by following the instructions I’d written on my blog. The materials used were matchboxes, paper, paper clips and lollipop sticks, while the tools required included a pencil, ruler, scissors, tape and pliers.
I assembled the boxes, painted the covers, started doodling on each of the scrolls, and mailed them out. From my studio in Madrid, Spain, the “Exquisite Doodle” boxes sailed around the world, reaching players in Denmark, England, Australia and the USA. I had already doodled on half of the scrolls, and the participants were instructed to add their own doodles before returning the work to me. I documented every step of the creative journey, from the preparation of boxes and scrolls, to the finished pieces. A lot of work went into the preparation of the boxes and scrolls for each player, but receiving each unique scroll made it all worthwhile.
f the Box: “The Exquisite ist Project by Sarah Hucal
chell shares her latest collaborative project.
The first returned “Exquisite Doodle” box I received was from Bob Seal in Australia, who created a jubilant scroll with loving messages (above). Bob’s amazing drawings make his generous spirit bounce off the paper. Kristine Suhr (Denmark) was all too happy to make her scroll into a murder mystery (below). In fact, I hear she is still searching for more clues. The butler is not off the hook yet...
artspan Paula Joerling’s scroll (Atlanta, Georgia) made me smile and think about how nothing is more comforting than spending time with good friends, especially when there’s cooking and dining involved
When I first laid my eyes on Tom Haney’s scroll (Atlanta, Georgia), I nearly saw him staring back in vibrant colors! He had left his magic touch on every inch of the paper (below).
When I opened John Frame’s scroll (Wrightwood, California) I was struck by the familiar “old book smell,” As it turns out, John had cut his own paper and inscribed it with intricate drawings and cryptic writing. It gave me the feeling that I was holding some sort of ancient treasure in my hands. Keith Newstead’s scroll (England) gave an endearing lesson in perseverance through his delightful drawing, while Lisa Kaser (Tigard, Oregon) filled her scroll with little characters that seemed to float across the paper. I happen to know that Mary Lou Zeek chose a rainy day to stay inside and work on her scroll; but regardless of the rain outside, it’s clear to see that she drew with a cheerful heart.
Thinking Inside of the Box: â€œThe
The finished scrolls were meant to be viewed inside their little boxes by using two paper clip cranks to turn the paper. I felt a video was the best way to show the scrolls being turned, and thus, it is with a video that my doodle-by-mail adventure came to a close.
Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project by Sarah Hucal
The Video: The “Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project (http://youtu.be/Su56xE-JkjE) The Blog: Art In Communication (http://artincommunication.blogspot.com) The Players: Alex Mitchell (http://www.alexmitchellportfolio.com) Mary Lou Zeek (http://www.marylouzeekgallery.com) Kristine Suhr, the pop-up queen par excellence (http://www.pop-up.dk) Bob Seal, the wonderful wizard of illustration (http://home.exetel.com.au/bobseal) Lisa Kaser, a delightful teller of pictorial tales (http://www.lisakaser.com) John Frame, the visionary film-maker (http://johnframesculpture.com/the-tale) Paula Joerling, a design and illustration goddess (http://www.paulajoerling.com) Tom Haney, a mechanical poet and storyteller (http://www.tomhaney.com) Keith Newstead, an automata superhero (http://www.keithnewsteadautomata.com)