Hey, there. Everyone doing well?
I'll keep the intro short. This week we bring you a Q&A with Lindsey Kustusch. You can read her bio on her artist’s page. Lindsey's work has attracted a lot of attention in the three short weeks it's been here, and one of the first three pieces has already found a home. More are on the way.
Lindsey's been in Germany shooting photo reference for future pieces, and we expect some of that work will be possibly heading our way in the future.
Lindsey's work is a blend of the abstract and real, of soft textures and sharp lines, bold colors and subtle shades. We like it a lot, and we're proud to have her in the Gallery.
Anyway, on with it. The questions and answers:
Why did you become a painter?
Ultimately, creating anything with my hands is what brings me the most joy in life. I like the physicality and spontaneity of applying what’s in your head to a raw physical form. I hoped I’d somehow find a career in art, but it wasn’t until long after art school and after a short career in animal welfare, did I realize painting was my ticket in. It started as a hobby and then once I realized I can actually make a living doing what I love, I found a whole new passion for the medium itself. There are endless possibilities with paint and very different directions you can take it. Unveiling those possibilities on my day-to-day continuously convinces me I’m where I’m supposed to be.
Do you have a philosophy that drives your work?
These could be more “rules of the road” than philosophies I’d say, but … paint what inspires you and not what you think you’re supposed to, it’ll always show in your work. Seek inspiration through your peers, but always find your own voice. Remind yourself that most of the artists you idolize are sometimes more than twice your age, so be patient and stay focused. Remember to leave the house at least once a day. And don’t forget, you’re living the dream, so stop complaining.
You seem to switch from animals to landscapes to figures and back with no problem, and you do all equally well. Why and how?
I found early on that switching up the subject matter every other painting or so helped to keep me inspired, free-thinking and interested. Sticking to one subject for too long prevented me from taking risks necessary to grow as an artist.
Urban landscapes were the first genre of oil painting to completely blow me away and had me question everything I knew about oil as a medium, so without a doubt became the first of my challenges. I realized that once you break it down into simple geometric shapes and forms, there’s an endless freedom for personal expression in the urban environment. Hard, angular edges, sharp peaks against soft clouds, tight blocks of color stacked on top of one another; abstracting and breaking down the world as we see it into individual knife marks and brush strokes, satisfies a specific piece of the puzzle that no other subject can. Just the same as a figure or animal, but with an entirely different set of problems to solve.
By jumping back and forth, I’m able to stay fresh and forward thinking as to the overall direction I want to take my art. It helps to keep me focused and experimental. The animals allow me to use tools I would normally never use with a cityscape and the freedom to rest my eyes and get loose with the mark making. The figures depend upon a skill set required to accurately describe the human form, which is a challenge all in itself. Each of the subjects I paint serve a purpose in the creative process, and with each subject I hold a personal connection. In the end, my hope is that this will create an inspired, lifetime body of work.
What inspires you most?
That's a tough one. And I'm sure once I answer it, I'll think of something else. But overall, if I had to pinpoint what inspires me the most, it would be living in a city surrounded by creative, forward thinking people. I'm highly influenced by my surroundings, as we all are, so to be in the thick of it, and in a city that lends itself to the creative types is a constant motivator and daily inspiration.
How much do you consider the abstract elements of your work, or is that just a byproduct of your technique?
A little bit of both. I’m constantly fighting the tidiness of the painting, and where, when and what to abstract. Understanding something to the level where you can “playfully” break it down into simple shapes and colors and not create a complete mess, in my opinion, is a truly advanced skill and one that I’m continuously striving for. But I’ve come to realize with my own work, each painting is better left to reveal itself as it moves along, and there’s only so much you can push.
What kind of color palette do you prefer to work in? (Seems like you’re drawn to darker things … )
I guess I am drawn to a darker palette. There’s a richness in the darker pigments that strike a chord with me and seem to always draw my eye before a higher keyed painting. Also, I’ve always had a fear of making paint look “chalky,” and it’s very easy to do with a lighter palette. I like high contrast but lately I’m finding myself drawn more and more to those lighter, dustier, barely there colors, so who knows.
Why do you prefer to use palette knives and improvised painting implements?
I think it started with the fear of creating a lifeless, boring piece of art. Delicately blending pigment and lightly applying it to a canvas just wasn’t very much fun and I wasn’t very good at it, so long before I ever knew fine art would turn into a career I decided to start experimenting with the palette knife.
There was an artist in a gallery down the street from me at the time that treated his canvas like a cake. It was so satisfying to see thick, frosting like texture, bold, rich colors swirled together to form vibrant landscapes. He changed the way I looked at oil paint forever.
From there it’s just been a constant cycle of new inspiration, and new ways to experiment with achieving the end goal. When considering movement in an animal or the fog on a rainy day, soft and hard edges are crucial. Using tools that scrape the pigment across the canvas versus a brush have very different effects. Finding these effects with a constant rotation of tools is half the reason I love painting, and if the artist is inspired, so is the art she/he creates.
What piece of art that you’ve seen recently blew your mind and why?
This past year I was able to see the Joaquin Sorolla exhibit that came through Dallas. Wow, that is the show to see. To this day I have not seen such skilled use of color up close as I have with him. It made me realize again how it important it is to try and see as much art as you can in person, because even the most precise photographs won’t do it justice.
Lindsey, who probably considers herself a Californian, spent a year living in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas. Call it her sabbatical.
What did you think of Dallas?
The hottest place I’d ever lived. But … besides that, overall it was inspiring. I’d say my favorite part of Dallas was Deep Ellum itself. The realness of the people who live and work there, the old warehouses and saloons nestled along the torn up gritty streets, and fact that almost every night of the week there were cafes, bars and venues playing live music was pretty incredible.
What’s the best part of being back in California?
I’d say being able to have the windows open year round. I live in Oakland, and since I’ve been back it’s varied from a pleasant 80 degrees down to maybe a warm 68 without a cloud in the sky. It’s absurd. So other than the weather being beautiful, San Francisco is one of the most inspiring cities I’ve ever lived in, so being a short 20 minute train ride away just feels right.
Not so long ago, we had one of Google’s official photographers come through and shoot the gallery. You can now, through the magic of the Internet, “walk” through the gallery. Check it out.
And with that, we'll see you next week. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh, wait. Last thing. Jack says if you come in next Wednesday, Nov. 26, in your best pilgrim costume, he'll give you a 10 percent discount (excluding bronzes; no discounts on bronzes!). So ... think about it.