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Interview with Artist Jay Stuckey

Jay comes to us from a previous teaching position at Brown University. Want to learn more about Jay? Check out our interview below.

Can you describe your own artistic practice – what type of media do you prefer, what themes does your work deal with?

Right now my main focus is on painting and collage. The work has both representational and abstract elements. For me the main goal with these recent pieces is to initiate an idea within the viewer, to have the images ask questions versus posing answers or making statements. It gets tricky because ideally the questions asked are unique to each viewer, as each viewer is indeed unique. I also hope that the images are visually engaging. That they have visual presence when one comes upon them, and, if a viewer feels so moved to sit with a painting or collage for 10-20 minutes, they can actively wind their way in and around throughout the image while subtle nuances and new bits of information reveal themselves.

What advice would you have for beginning art students, or those who are considering making art a part of their lives? Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known when you started?

Wow, a lot, I actually taught a seminar on this subject at Brown. Yes it is difficult to forge a life where the creative act is part of your weekly if not daily existence, but at the same time if I figured it out, and number of my friends have figured it out, it can’t be rocket science. If you really want to make it happen, you’ll make it happen. I would say, perserverance furthers, always make sure you are enjoying, engaged, or challenged with what you’re doing, if not change your approach. It’s so difficult to find/carve out the time to make things, that you want to be stimulated by what you’re doing. Community has always been a high priority to me, surrounding yourself with like minds, so I would suggest getting to know your art community. Luckily for us Los Angeles has an AMAZING, thriving, international art community. We really are lucky, on a global level there are not many places for art that compare to L.A. right now. Oh and don’t walk into a gallery cold asking them if they’re looking at work. Yes this has worked for some artists I know, but it’s like playing the lottery. Sure you could win, but your odds suck, and the experience is a little embarrassing….for everyone.

What benefits and challenges does working with collage and mixed media present?

One of the main benefits I see is being able to take an image and recontextualize it. Perhaps it’s an advertisement familiar to everyone, but by cutting or manipulating it and placing it in a different context, you can take that preconceived association everyone has of that image and amplify it, subvert it, nullify it, you name it. It’s wonderful. On the flip side, I find one of the greatest challenges is the options available within the broad scope of ‘collage’, it can at times be overwhelming there are so many possibilities.

What do you hope your students accomplish by the end of your class?

In general I hope everyone walks away with a love for the creative process and the physical act of making things. Specific to collage I hope that everyone will have a solid foundation with the mechanics and materials behind making a collage (various forms of cutting and gluing, composition of shapes, basic design/layout ideas, etc..), AND, more importantly how these mechanics and materials behind collage are the vocabulary for this non-verbal form of communication which has great seductive powers.

Was there a moment when you officially began to consider yourself “an artist”?

I can’t think of a specific date. However, I do remember walking through Jonathan Borofsky’s retrospective in Washington, D.C. when I was 18 and thinking, “I might have to do this for the rest of my life.”

(paintings by Jay Stuckey, from top to bottom: Forming a Communist Party, The Apartment But It’s Different, Chinese Map of Paris and Chicago)

Interview with Artist Jaime Ursic

I used to get a lot of phone calls asking if we have printmaking classes. At the time, we didn’t, and I would have to dash the hopes of our potential students. The office was desolate, and tumbleweeds rolled by my desk. Then instructor and printmaker extraordinaire Jaime Ursic rode in like John Wayne, there was a swell of music, and now we have Monoprinting.

There are so many great things to say about Jaime, but I picked three:

1. She built the press that she uses in class. With her hands. And a car jack.
2. She has really good handouts.
3. The work that the students produced in her last class was AMAZING. Really, it was fantastic, I am not exaggerating for blog purposes. If you don’t believe me, come to our student show and see some great examples for yourself.

Here is a picture of a happily printing student, and also a shot of the final projects, on display outside the classroom.

After seeing the students’ creations, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more about Jaime’s process and background with printmaking.

How did you get started with printmaking, and what draws you to it?

My first experience was an “Introduction to Intaglio Printmaking” class that was required. I dreaded the class before I started because I didn’t want to waste time with anything outside my painting studio and printmaking sounded like so much busy work. In the end, the dread turned into enthusiasm when I scratched into my first hard-ground plate.

The graphic control of the mark making and the complete submission to dropping it into acid hooked me. I fell in love with the entire process—from preparing the plate to drawing on the ground, then dropping it into the acid, inking and running it through a press. So many ways to change one image! The idea of multiples intrigued me and the world of variations I could create by printing the plate in different ways. It was as if I was an alchemist with no idea of what I was about to discover.

What mediums/materials do you enjoy working with? Is there a particular style that you prefer?

I began to play with monoprints as compositional sketches for paintings, using oil paint cut with clove oil. Soon I realized that what I enjoyed in the monoprints was a freshness and serendipity that I couldn’t achieve in a more labor-intensive painting. The light and color I could create with monoprinting was instantly gratifying along with rhythms and patterns that I could quickly adapt and essentially recreate. Color, shape, translucence, rhythm, and figure-ground relationships– all took on new meaning. And that was before I began experimenting with different papers, plate surfaces and inks.

My style is grounded in traditional observation but I pull from and abstract my visual influences on a daily basis. I was still interested in line and mark-making, but with monoprinting I could draw with anything I found (string, floss, beads, shards, hair, pompoms, jelly bracelets, etc.) Also, I could now push into the paper and even emboss forms to create a composition that was active in all directions, not just across the picture plane, but actually into it.

For students that are new to printmaking, what kinds of assignments do you start them off with in class?

Students experiment with a variety of techniques creating monoprints with a special emphasis on using line, tone and texture. In my monoprinting class, I begin students with technical examinations of the process and we discuss successful formal strategies for composition. Students experiment with the process and use the plate as a drawing surface, practice additive and reductive inking techniques, create collographs, chine collé, etc. Along with in class demonstrations, I cover the historical context of monoprinting, a bit of connoisseurship, and the role it can play in an artist’s studio practice.

What artists or other work in this genre inspires you?

The inspiration in monoprinting for me is its spontaneity, color translucence, and how it’s a hybrid combination of printmaking, painting, and drawing mediums.
Everything I see inspires my work in some way or another.

Whether it is in the mark, touch, tone, inking, or composition, the following artists provide continual inspiration: Rembrandt, Seghers, Castiglione, Blake, Goya, Degas, Cassatt, Gaugin, Prendergast, Morandi, Picasso, Bonnard, Chagall, Miró, Matisse and Kollowitz. Contemporary artists I look to for inspiration are: Maurico Lasansky, Terry Winters, Kiki Smith, Peter Milton, Donald Sultan, Jim Dine, and Chuck Close.

The work below is by Jaime – to see more examples, visit her excellent website, jaimeursic.com.

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