|"Persephone" Gouache on wood, 2012|
Patrushka, an artist from California, finds inspiration for her dynamic and evocative artwork through all facets of life. Her artwork is colorful, poetic, daring and full of emotion. Patrushka spoke with ArtSeen about her creations and her artistic process.
Can you tell us a little about your artwork, artistic background, and artistic processes?
I have always spent time creating art. As a little girl I found coloring and doodling to be a favorite way to spend time locked in my room playing records, pouring over the artwork on their covers. It is a kind of therapy for me, something that relaxes me, helps me escape from troubles and worries. It takes me to another world, somewhat like a spiritual experience. I have worked in almost all mediums over my career, illustrating almost every kind of subject, either through employment opportunities or private commissions. Most of my recent artwork is heavily portrait-based. I love the human face and all that a personality, occupation, or expression may inspire, reveal, and contain.
What inspires you as an artist? Why do you create art?
Almost every aspect of life can inspire me: from a snippet of an overheard conversation in a coffee shop to a passing face in a window, the lyrics in a song, a story in the news, the neon lighting in a dark alley, a killer brocade in a fashion show, an expression on a waitress’ face, or the gnarled wood of an ancient tree trunk. Inspiration is everywhere, all the time. It is a force that cannot be controlled or directed. Dreams, and the minutes before I sleep, often conjure up surreal images for paintings. For some reason my brain is especially imaginative during this time. The only problem is I am usually too sleepy to get up to capture them in a sketch! I have often fantasized about a device which could plug in to my brain that would record these images in a slideshow for me.
|"The Gaga Bird" Oil on wood, 2012|
What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore within in your artwork?
My main theme is all emotion-based, the good and/or bad that is threaded through those emotions. Good and evil, yin and yang, they pretty much cover all the bases. There can be beauty in the bad and bad in the good; one should embrace that fact and enjoy both aspects. For me, personally, evil might entail: politicians like Karl Rove, violent abusers, the symbolic devil within and without, bigotry, environmental polluters, greed, ignorance, and dishonesty. Good would entail: artists and their visions, music, nature's beauty, strong leaders, selfless and brave people, hard working people, integrity, odd or unique images, drop-dead fashion, and compassionate respect for all forms of life on earth.
|"Sir Guardian" Gouache on wood, 2011|
Are there any artists that inspire you? If so, who would they be and why?
Oh, so many inspire me! Narrowing it down to five here:
1) Salvador Dali: because he is "The Master" in surreal imagination and technique. He can capture perfect realism within unreal contexts.
2) John Singer Sargent: because of his beautiful wet brush strokes which show so much of a person or their costume, gestures and suggestions rather than realist translation.
3) Mark Ryden: because he married pop culture to modern day surrealism using icons and familiar images in compositions of incredible design and impact.
4) Frida Kahlo: because she persevered through so much hardship and captured so much dreamlike imagery in a strong style, she wasn't afraid to paint the dark.
5) David Bowie: because he crossed so many boundaries, his art is graphic, visual, and auditory. His lyrics, music, and images have rebelled and spoken for a generation of misfits giving them a place to belong.
|"Lady Marygold," Oil on wood, 2011|
What do you think the role of the artist is?
Ah, this is a hard one. Maybe to create beauty out of the sad grime of life? To share interpretations of a personal perspective, to emote visually another reality, to show us the impossible? Actually, I think most artists just do it because they have to. They see something and they have to create it.
What projects or gallery shows would you consider career highlights or personally important to you as an artist?
Personally, I think my "The Hunters and Hunted" series has been the most important. It is a series I have worked on off and on for a few years now based on men who abuse (The Hunters) and the women they violate (The Hunted). It is not a body of work that was created to be popular or to sell well; it was just something I felt I had to do, something I had to say. It is sad that so much art is created nowadays just to sell, something pretty or pleasing to match someone's couch. Art should move someone when they view it, it doesn't matter that it makes them sad or happy or angry, but just that it elicits a response or a dialog. Many artists just paint pretty young women with a bare breast or two because it sells. These artists have to make a living and, understandably, that is what becomes most important.
|"Black and Blue (a Hunted)" Oil on wood, 2011|
|"Steven (a Hunter)" Scratchboard, 2011|
My Hunters series portrays various men from their mug shots who have committed crimes against women. They are all smaller in size, black and white scratchboard, and based on real men. The Hunted are, for the most part, symbolic set-up images, larger in size, done in color and painted in oil. Most victims of violent crimes don't broadcast their photo all over the internet, they are hard to find. I felt this juxtaposition in styles, size, and medium gave more importance to the Hunted, lessening their "victim" role. Violence against women is a huge issue and not a popular one to address. No one wants to hear or think about negative issues. But change can only occur by confronting the issues and dealing with them. Women shouldn't have to go through their lives feeling hunted, stalked, and scared. I feel this body of work asks many questions and raises important dialogs on many different levels. One example aside from the obvious is the reaction to my Hunters; does creating a portrait of someone do them some kind of honor? Does it make them a good person? I think not, but the general misconception is yes. I hope this series makes people think, discuss, and raise awareness to an issue that has shaped women's mindset in an unfair way, throughout past history and current times.
And finally, what advice would you give to other artists?
The three P's are of utmost importance: Practice, Produce, and Publicize. Try to work, paint, or doodle every day. Get your chops down and experience other's art. Network and get your work seen whether it be through social media or gallery shows. And always thank those who help you along the way. There is no excuse for bad manners. Thank You, Shawn!
For more information about Patrushka and her artwork, you can visit her website, Facebook page and blog for more details.
All images provided by Patrushka.