By M Sebastian Araujo
For as long as humans have been walking around on this earth, portraits have existed. From the caves of Lascaux in Southern France to the National Gallery in Washington DC there are examples of portraits in all media and of all types of people…sometimes an Artist takes a unique approach to the genre. Recently I had a chance to find out more about how this can sometimes occur and alter a creative vision that changes everything about the person…
What in the world around you affects your Creativity?
I prefer past worlds. A lot of my inspiration comes from the masters of the Italian Renaissance. I love channeling the mystery and ecstasy I find there to give it voice in a modern context.
I also love mining contemporary human facial expression and revealing the undercurrents, capturing the “micro-expression”… the expressions we sense rather than see. Faces are all around us, but looking into them, rather than “at” them is where you find the reward. People spend a lot of energy disguising themselves and creating an outward persona to distract us from seeing who they are while simultaneously wishing someone would really “see” them. I’m quietly looking for those moments when their guard is down…a moment thought private, unobserved when I am inadvertently shown the absolute truth.
Do you feel technology has changed Art?
Technology is a wonderful tool for exploration and delivery. It certainly has the ability to increase exposure of an artist to a wider audience and to offer artists another medium of expression, but like any tool it’s not “making” art. The artist is still the impetus and the soul of what they create.
It will be interesting to see how prolonged interaction with technology affects the wiring of our brains. Unlike pencil or brush or clay, which, I think most artists would agree, directly engages their right/creative hemisphere through sensation, technology first engages the left/analytical hemisphere of the brain BEFORE the right, Currently, you still have to figure out how to interface with it to get your desired effect. As it evolves to be more interactive, our brains will probably evolve, too, to make use of it. But it’s still won’t be making the art.
What is it like to be an Artist in Todays World?
The age-old problem is how to get your work in front of people. I’m fortunate to have my own gallery in Provincetown and representation elsewhere but today artists can’t just hope to be “discovered. They have to find new ways to take charge of their careers. I had been looking f or “out-of-the-box” opportunities, like short-term “pop-ups” in other cities when it occurred to me that I could offer something like that to fellow artists, HERE so I’m running my GALLERY VOYEUR this year as a “pop-up” venue for independent artists to “self-exhibit.” It’s a pretty exiting departure from the way things are usually “done” and artists are really responding.
Was there a ”shining lightbulb” moment in your life when you realized you were an Artist,if so what was it?
It’s a bit of a long story…
I always wanted to be an artist but made choices in my life that pulled me down different paths. I had built a successful design career and a certain level of security but, well, you know, “something” was missing. Finally in 2002, after decades of listening to me moan about “roads not taken” my honey dared me to get out the paints and brushes from my days as a theatrical scenic artist, stretch up some big “flats” and see what happened. In a bit of synchronicity, the tenant in my storefront in Provincetown declined to renew his lease, and, voila, I had a studio.
But, what to paint? That’s what really terrified me. I had dabbled over the years to disappointing effect…What if I tried again and failed?
Fate intervened, again.
On a visit to a museum bookstore, I happened on a book of Caravaggio’s work. I adore Caravaggio, his theatrical sense of lighting, the chiaroscuro, the emotion and drama, so I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll copy a Caravaggio to get over the fear’. I took the book to the cashier and plopped my credit card.
The card partially covered the face on the cover. It was…transformed.
The hairs on my neck stood up, so I whipped out another card and started “cropping” the face. The feeling intensified. So I thought, ‘What if I paint this tiny little section really big?’
Back in the studio, I did just that and, past just reproducing a piece of a painting, something else began to emerge. As I got to the eyes, there was someone else there, and so I let her appear.
When it was done, my subject wasn’t the only thing transformed, and when the summer ended I realized that the Universe had given me a second chance. It had opened a window to the road not taken. Would I return to my successful career and slow suffocation, or would I leap through the window?
What is it about Provincetown that attracts Artists to its shores?
There is definitely something in the energy, here. There’s a creative “vortex” and those of us ready to surrender are drawn into it. Here, people who never think about painting feel it suddenly run off to find art supplies or take a drawing class. Of course, you don’t have to change your life to enjoy it. Art is a wonderful mistress. Enjoy her charms while you can even if the memory is all that you carry home.
For more of Johniene’s Work Click Here: http://www.voy-art.com/
As Summer quickly approaches the shores of this craggy and crooked coastal town it is very good to see that some of the Creative and Courageous ideas about Life and Art are thriving and making Provincetown a haven of Peace and Art amid the tumult of the world…Hopefully each visitor will take some of that home with them, and help to spread it around the world!