Today I am the featured artist at the creative web magazine Artella Daily Muse for their "In the Studio" section of the site. Below is a copy of the interview :)
Daily Muse: How would you describe your art?
Aja: How I would describe my art would simply be 'abstract impressionist'.
DM: Tell us more...
Aja: How others would, and have described the majority of my work would be 'Wow -- those are naked chicks, aren't they?'
DM: What is your favorite piece of your own art? Why?
Aja: Right now it is my newest piece, “Glow”, and it's nice when that happens. I can name a handful of pieces that made me go, “Wow, did I really paint that?” and those pieces raise the bar for me. It's a need at that point to shock myself even more. It's then that you know you are on the right path.
DM: What people, places, or things inspire you most?
Aja: I am inspired by all around me but have an affinity for the Abstract Expressionists such as Rothko, de Kooning, and more contemporary examples such as Susan Rothenburg and Cecily Brown. Selling in such venues as eBay and Etsy has opened me up to a treasure trove of inspiration.
DM: How do you organize your art supplies?
Aja: I am not familiar with that word, organize. Sounds like something I should look into, haha....
DM: What art supply can you not live without?
Aja: My palette knife, oil paint, and canvas. They go hand and hand. I lost my palette knife once and nearly cried as I tore apart my studio looking for it. Tell me more about organization?
DM: What favorite book(s) can you recommend?
Aja: A compilation of contemporary painters called Vitamin P. I purchased it while at the Whitney in NYC, and it has become my handbook of sorts. Someone somewhere said painting was dead. This book has hundreds of pages of examples to the contrary.
DM: What is your favorite charity, volunteer interest, or cause?
Aja: Diabetes. Really. My grandmother, grandfather, great aunt, and best friend's mom all died of it. Now my mom has it. So, when I can, I donate to the American Diabetes Association or related organizations. I also recently donated a painting to the Seneca Falls Historical Society Charity Ball – my great-grandmother is heavily involved, and I am happy to contribute.
DM: What movie(s) do you consider your favorite(s)?
Aja: I love the ones that make you think, or challenge you somehow. “Donnie Darko”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, “Memento”, “Requiem for a Dream” -- they all challenge your mind and make you consider something you might not have considered previously. I also must throw in Grind House flicks. I watch them regularly on IFC – they are like visual crack.
DM: What music do you love to hear while you’re creating?
Aja: Oh, that so depends. I love my hardcore and metal, truth be told. Type O Negative, Opeth, and a now defunct local band from upstate NY called Section 8 are all faves of mine. I also love classic rock. Pink Floyd's work is some of the best music ever created.
DM: What is your favorite quote?
Aja: Honestly, I am not “in the know” really when it comes to quotes. Half of me wanted to Google something witty... but then that would be cheating. I'm more of a lyrics kind of chick. It's so hard to think of something like that when music is blaring in your ears...
Maybe... "Do or do not... there is no try." I think Yoda said that, didn't he? I am such a dork.
DM: Who is, or has been, your mentor, favorite teacher, or favorite artist?
Aja: Easy. Thorpe Feidt of Montserrat College of Art. He is the stuff of freshman legend. The professor with little patience for the half-assed art student looking for an easy career doodling on tablets all day, like so many parents are afraid of. The cliché. He has challenged each and every student that has ever crossed his path – told me the first time I had a review class with him that my work was too contrived, and I got into a 20 minute debate with him on just why I felt he was out of line – even though he was absolutely right. He is the reason I am the artist I am. Even now I look at my work sometimes and go, “Thorpe would kick me right now... this looks to comfy.” He taught me to paint, even though I thought I already knew.
DM: What is your number one tip for budding artists?
Aja: Don't second guess yourself. Did you know Matisse literally had hundreds of scrapped canvases sitting in storage rooms to remind him of what not to do? But he painted them anyways, and then kept them. He never stopped to go, “Wow, that sucks, I am so done with this, and I will never be the artist I wish to be.” Now that's persistence and devotion to one's craft. Let your vision guide you, and don't betray it, not even for a second. It will haunt you.
DM: What favorite “quickie recipe” for creating a piece would you like to share?
Aja: Canvas goes on the easel; paint on the palette, palette knife mixes gobs of undiluted color and dances across the canvas without a second thought. It's best to consider the whole in one's mind's eye instead of obsessing so over the parts. It's when I obsess that my work takes on a stifled, stuffy appearance. I know it. The viewer knows it. And generally those pieces are the bane of my existence. Those pieces become other pieces. And those pieces are rarely seen. Not because they are rare – but because I demand more. Abstract artist as perfectionist – the oxymoron?
DM: What suggestions can you offer for moving through creative “blocks”?
Aja: For me, it's loud music and stepping away from the studio completely. Writing. Right this very moment, I have a 16 x 20 inch canvas that I keep eyeing through typed words, contemplations on the questions laid out here, and headphones at max volume blaring Opeth's “Bleak” into my ears... frantically chain smoking and considering the possibilities of the blankness before me both in word document and primed canvas. It will become something. I've thought too much about it. It's why I am here. Stop thinking. Just do. If it's mud, it's mud. There is nothing worse than a blank canvas at that point, because you have no excuse except perhaps for the fear of failure. Think of the possibilities instead of the ramifications. Even ramifications can be beautiful sometimes...
DM: What do you do for rest and relaxation?
Aja: Rest and relaxation is all relative. Sometimes I work to relax. Sometimes I scratch it all and drink the night away to relax, only to realize my mind is on the painting sitting on the easel. It can be a bit torturous at times, the things I put myself through. The things paintings put me through. Not to say my work is torture, not at all – or I wouldn't do it. It's self-exploration and self-sustainment. This can be exhausting and relaxing at the same time. Goodness... now I'm confused.
I have a four year old, on top of it all, who keeps me going. I guess what I do for rest is sleep. Moms never rest, and an artist's mind is always at work. It's nuts.
DM: If you could go back in time and have lunch with anyone, who would you chose?
Aja: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – he hung out in Parisian dives all day painting can-can divas, liquored up and void of any pretentiousness so affiliated with the perception of the serious “artiste”. An afternoon with him would be an afternoon in psychological surreality with an artistic demi-god who never saw himself as such. Fantastic, if you ask me.