I was invited by to join in the Blog Hop Project by artist, Ahavani Mullen. The project consists of answering some questions regarding my creative experience, art, and process:
What are you working on?
I recently went to NYC and bought some natural pigments (mostly crushed gemstones, and minerals) to mix my own paint. I have also been researching how to make your own pigments and inks from natural fruits, vegetables, plants, etc. I love the vibrancy, and settlement qualities that these natural pigments provide. And most recently I have been painting more with espresso coffee. I love the rich Sepia color and building layers with this seemingly common “paint.” My color palette has become even more limited and I’m finding beauty in more brown tones, neutrals and lots of negative space. I have been working on paper more.
I have been fairly prolific lately. When I am not in the studio, I am often at home painting outside. Even though it has been a sweltering Florida summer, my watery paint dries so fast outdoors– and I can accomplish 5 times as much than I can in the studio.
How does your work differ from others?
I’m not sure. In a world where everything has been done, I’m not really sure that I’m all that unique. Unconsciously, I have noticed that once I have mastered something, I tend to get bored, and I move on to something else in order to keep things interesting, and hold my attention. Once I start to feel that there is a formula, or predictability to my work – I start getting antsy and notice a transformation. Some years it is a subtle shift, other times, drastic. I paint a lot, and I love experimenting and exploring new materials; change usually occurs the more I work and push the boundaries.
When you are an abstract artist, you don’t really have traditional subject matter to draw from. For me, inspiration comes from memory, experiences, intuition, mood, energy, and how different colors react with each other. My paintings often become a conversation with self. Over the years I have developed my own gestures and marks that make up a visual language. It becomes a vague form of communication that I can only understand.
I believe that discovering new materials, exploring new concepts, and learning new techniques are essential to growth. I know some artists that have been painting the same thing – the same way for years, even decades – with little variation. And even their current bodies of work look like clones of each other. I’m not sure how they attain satisfaction – perhaps they prefer to feel safe in their complacency?
I just know that would not work for me.
Why do you do what you do?
Mentally, the whole process of making art is grounding and therapeutic for me. I start getting fussy if I have not been to the studio in a few days. I work intuitively, enjoy the solitude, and my process allows me to clear my mind, and relax.
I have always been a creator and an artist. As a young child I was always making something, or crafting. I just know how to make things using ingredients, that involve a process, and patience.
Superficially, I do what I do to make money. Being an artist is my job. I wish I could say something more articulate and inventive – but in reality I need to pay for my health insurance, rent, a new car, and I just don’t subscribe to the whole starving artist mentality. I like nice shiny things and enjoy traveling.
However, I do paint for myself first. I try and produce work that I’m proud of and not massed produced. I then put it out there, and see how it goes (how it is received.) I wish I could pretend I’m saving lives or something, but in reality I’m making art that matches your sofa. And I do it for money, so I can in turn buy myself a sofa.
How does my process work?
My creativity begins with a constant state of awareness and appreciation for everything around me. I am always noticing patterns in nature, color trends in fashion, the way inanimate objects harmonize with each other, etc.
In the studio, I start recording my experiences: I begin with an already primed gallery wrapped canvas (or thick watercolor paper) – and add another layer of clear gesso. I have found that clear gesso offers this “tooth” that regular white gesso or primer does not provide. When I start layering the watery color (concentrated fluid acrylics, inks, gouache) on the canvas I get more interesting pools and settling of pigment. I like to layer the paint: Some colors are transparent; others are thicker and more opaque. After the paint has dried, I like to go back into the painting with vine charcoal, oil pastels, watercolor crayons, or makers. I enjoy involving many different components, in order to create surfaces that are rich, lyrical, and visually interesting.
And here is a little bit of info about Ahavani Mullen
who invited me to participate in the Blog Hop Q & A:
My works have evolved from silence. Embracing stillness and reverence, this extends from the work’s germination as a seed, through its progression to a fully blossomed piece. The imagery I create is intended to be experiential, using color as a vehicle for a moment of contemplation.
Ahavani has exhibited her work nationally, and was recently awarded a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The next exhibition will be in a group show at Chicago Art Source Gallery in January 2015, and her next solo exhibition will be in the Dulgar Gallery at South Suburban College in South Holland, IL. She will also be featured in the next issue of Studio Visit
magazine. Ahavani lives in Chicago, and works out of her studio in Logan Square. Check out her Blog Hop interview HERE