Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interview with an Artist: Heather Robinson Teran

I've decided to start a monthly segment on my blog exploring creativity through interviews with other artists and authors. Why? Partly for selfish reasons; my own inspiration has felt rather starved lately, but I realized that in my life I have had the sweet serendipity to know many immensely talented people dedicated to their craft. I want to learn from them how to court the creative muse!

Without further ado, I present the ever-stelliferous artist Heather Robinson Teran!
What is your process of inspiration for creating art?

Intuition is what guides my artistic process. I begin by gathering a wide variety of visual material--old photos, digital images, magazine clippings, vintage comic books, patterns, even lace and other fabric. Then I select the imagery that really calls to me and place it together. I begin by spray painting, using texture or pattern, or just by painting a background in acrylic. From there I usually begin painting in oil. I paint, sand, layer, paint, splash, and keep going until the painting feels right. Some of my paintings are simple and only focus on one image, while other paintings feature a smorgasbord of information all competing for attention. A painting can start out one way and end up radically different. I let intuition guide me throughout and it is a very fluid process. 

Who is an artist that inspires you and why?

Hands down, Monica Canilao. She is an Oakland-based artist known for her eclectic installations and collaborations with fellow artists. Everything she creates is imbued with this folk magic and belief in the good things in life. With most artists, some of their work I love, some of it I hate. With Monica Canilao, everything she creates is inspiring and pushing boundaries. I would also say I am most jealous of her, because she collaborates often, usually is creating these huge gorgeous installations, and has a big studio space that looks like a vintage fantasy world. My dream home would be inside a Monica Canilao installation. Other artists that have influenced me include Joao Ruas, Kent Williams, James Jean, Tran Nyguen, Arthur Rackham, William Rossetti, and Henry Darger.

How do you overcome fallow spells in creativity and regain the courage to create?

Consistency. Discipline. Schedule. If I waited to make art until I was feeling “creative” and “in the mood,” then let’s be honest, I wouldn’t paint often and I wouldn’t get anything done. I know because years ago I used to be that way. Serious artists have consistent work habits.
 I paint a certain amount of hours each week, and the more disciplined I am at sticking to it, the more creative I become because I am in the act of creating. The more you create the better you become at it. If you are in a rut, then force yourself to work a certain amount of hours each day, and you will work your way out of it. If you are consistently creating, whether it be writing, painting, etc., then something good will come of it. Not all your work will be perfectly inspired but some of it definitely will be. And then you go from there. 

Along the lines of “Regaining the courage to create,” I think that surrounding yourself with encouraging people is one of the best things an artist can do. Don’t live in your head too much. Talk to others about your art, have it critiqued, know who to show your work to when you are feeling particularly negative or in a tough spot. All artist need support groups that give positive and helpful feedback. Find those people and stick with them. I have an amazing group of people who support and critique my work and I definitely couldn’t do it without them.

 Heather Robinson Teran
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