Artisan Gallery Artist Interview - Furiousdreams

article by jessicatorrant

Hello Victoria and thank you for doing this interview with me! Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to become an artist.

I've been drawing since before I could read. My parents encouraged us to experiment with all the arts and where I grew up in Princeton, NJ, offered a wide variety of cultural opportunities with fantastic teachers. After I moved to Atlanta in my mid twenties, I studied privately with the Chatovs for about eight years, learning color theory and anatomy at their studio. I'm intensely concerned with chroma and how colors work with each other. My early studies of Johannes Itten and Hans Hofmann influenced how I use color.

March March, oil/canvas 24"x31" 2010

Looking at your website, I see that you have your work categorized by the places where you have lived. Can you share with us a bit about how each of these places influenced and inspired your work while you were there?

I've been working exclusively from landscape for about 15 years, although the content usually devolves into abstraction. I'm interested in finding a way to broaden or intensify emotional content within the abstraction of form.

Place has significant meaning for how I respond, and in concept. Each city or region has offered distinct palettes and subject matter. It was great to walk over from my house in San Francisco to sketch in Golden Gate Park, and I still love the works that came out of that period. I've also taken painting trips to the Pacific northwest, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island - the rugged coastlines and peaks of the west are some of my favorite locales. Lately I've been painting my yard, like Bonnard, and really getting to know the change of light on certain trees at various times of the year.

IncandescentDusk Incandescent Dusk, oil/canvas panel 9"x12" 2010

I think a universal painter's dream would be to paint in Italy and you have! Was it as dreamy and magical as I imagine it would be?

I spent almost a month in Umbria at an artists' residency, the International School for Painting, Sculpture and Drawing. Yes, it was so wonderful to have nothing else to do except to paint every day! The light in Italy is similar to northern California and it was sublime to actually be painting and listening to Italian opera on my Ipod in such a historically rich arts region of the world. Residencies can be helpful because there is a community of artists for feedback and camaraderie. I developed a couple of life-long friendships from that one month at the residency. I would suggest that any serious artist look into doing something like this.

Your abstract work is so visually powerful and as a painter, I see so many elements that move me. How would you describe your work to someone who isn't familiar with abstract art but likes what they see?

Thanks! The 'mark' in a painting has to be genuine or authentic or it won't make much of an impression on the viewer. The beauty and poetry of any theme in art, music or literature is that it doesn't have to be fully understood to be appreciated. Everyone should bring their own interpretation and imagination to works of art.

In your experience, how do you feel being a woman has affected your painting career, if at all? Have you found any gender differences in this line of work, particularly as an abstract expressionist painter?

Great question. My focus on being an artist has taken precedence over almost everything - except for gardening and my volunteer work for historical preservation and sustainable agriculture. I worked full-time in television from 1990 to recently, and knew that I needed at least the weekends to produce.

I've been lucky to have had an artist mother, and a sister who's a writer and artist. Several of my close friends are painters, video artists or artisans. We offer each other great support and feedback. And the community of Etsy is another mostly woman based community that offers wonderful feedback and nourishment. I've learned a lot from various women artists here.

There is a definite lack of support in the arts world, for women. You can see this from the ongoing disregard of important women artists in major museums; their blockbuster shows inevitably marginalize women artists. It's changing slowly, but women have not been paid the attention they deserved.

I see you have a history of showing your work in real life venues and gallery exhibits. What led you to selling your work online and do you have any tips for visual artists that would like to do both?

I began selling online with Etsy and other sites, just over a year ago. From my years doing motion design and interactive graphics, I knew a website was a necessity, so I developed my own domain and site back in 1998, before I even had my first home computer. Having a blog and online references to the work is crucial for any artist.

After being out of work for the past year, I made the decision to build a business with my own work. I have exhibited in galleries and museums, but I think online is a big part of the future for both gallerists and individual artists. It's important for artists to keep exhibiting because it does add credibility to their work. Getting reviewed is also critical, but harder to control.

AsparagusBed Asparagus Bed, oil/canvas panel 22"x30" 2009

Who are some of your favorite creators? This doesn't have to be just visual artists, it can include musicians, poets, whoever inspires you.

I've had various influences and have studied the gamut of art history and theory. I prefer the early to late expressionists, whose work has astounding passion, freedom and of course, color. I've been strongly influenced by Joan Mitchell, Kline, DeKooning and Hofmann. I have links to a global art scene through friends who live in the UK and Italy, and I'm looking at new work all the time.

My first love was music, I studied violin, piano and voice - so I have a huge interest in the medium. Jazz and classical are my favorite styles, but I'll listen to almost anything. I've used poetry to influence my work and did a few paintings recently based on Whitman poems. I love works by Mary Oliver, Tess Gallagher, Neruda, Rilke, Gary Snyder. Again, too many to write about!

Take us through one of your average painting sessions - do you work on multiple pieces at once or one at a time? Do you devote certain parts of the day or week to painting? Does your mood change each time you paint or is there a consistent mood that painting inspires in you?

I usually work on one painting at a time unless I'm struggling with it. I like to give it some breathing room and come back to it over a period of a few days. Time is an equalizer for artists. We just need more of it. I love to paint figuratively too, from live models.

I couldn't say that there's any one 'mood' when I'm painting. I try to pay attention and be in the act without interruption. I do use music, but it has to be either jazz or classical or something that doesn't require a lot of attention. Art is a discipline just like any other vocation.

TiberBridge Tiber Bridge, oil/canvas 24"x20" 2007

Is there an art form that you haven't tried before but would like to explore?

I've never attempted any kind of sculpture and watched my mother sculpt a beautiful head out of clay when I was a teenager. And I'm attracted to abstract work like that of Louise Nevelson, Lee Bontecou, David Smith, and Deborah Butterfield. But the tactile plasticity and modulation that I can get with color and especially with oil paint, is something I doubt I'll ever give up.

Taking a pulse on past, present and future, how would you describe your work ten years ago, right now, and what do you see your work evolving into in, say, ten years from now?

Ten years ago I was working on the series of abstractions from nature that has influenced my current work, so I'd say I have a continuum going from that point. As for lifestyle, I've always wanted to have a small farm or at least enough land to protect, out in the country where you can see stars and hear owls. That's my idea of heaven. I hope that in much less than 10 years I will have built up a thriving online business! Etsy is certainly a great resource, and I appreciate all the other artists there who have helped me. Ad Reinhardt's famous quote about what art is sums up my thoughts on the subject: “Art is art and everything else is everything else.”

Here are Victoria’s links:
http://www.furiousdreams.com/blog/ http://Furiousdreams.etsy.com http://www.victoriawebb.net// http://twitter.com/furiousdreams

Thanks Jessica, for your thoughtful questions and for being such a great interview partner!


Annette F Tait said...

I'm very impressed with Victoria's work and have a couple of favourites!
I really like her succinct point of appreciation coming without fully understanding and I can relate to that!
Thanks to Victoria for this very rich interview and to Jessica for her thoughtful questions.

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Fantastic read--very interesting face behind the art...

BlueTerracotta said...

Wonderful interview!

Sherry said...

Victoria, I've always loved your work. Thanks so much for giving us insight into your process.

Continued success to you.

paula said...

Jessica, I commend you for posting a great interview on Victoria and her work! so nice to read about her process. Enjoyed knowing what inspires you Victoria,and more about your process!

Victoria Webb said...

Thanks to Jessica for asking such relevant questions - and also to Jill for coming up with the great idea to post these 'partner' interviews on the blog.

They really add a lot of personalized information about what makes us artists tick.


SewnNatural said...

Wow. Victoria's work is so incredibly inspiring, and this interview let's us see some of her sources of inspiration... thank you!

humblebea said...

I loved learning more about you, Victoria! Wonderful article, thank you for sharing!

Great questions, Jessica! (-:

Michelle said...

Victoria, very impressing Art and it is so
wonderful to know a bit more about you,
Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

TheJoyofColor said...

Jessica and Victoria i enjoyed this thorough and interesting post. Questions and answers are intelegent, honest and open. I'm a fan of you both
Thanks for letting us know more about you Victoria.

kathiroussel said...

i enjoyed reading about your turn toward a more full time involvement with your painting-- i can certainly see signs of the artist's whose work you admire in your work mixed with your own individual style.

thanks for sharing and thanks to you jessica for bringing this great interview our way.



gretchenmist said...

totally enjoyed reading this interview and love your work victoria ~ always a great thing to read about other artists' processes and thoughts on their work.
and i want to go to Italy now!
well done jessica and victoria :)

ingermaaike said...

A great read! I love to look inside and artist's head like this :-D

aroluna said...

Great artist to artist interview! Rich and thoughtful! Thank you both!

WolfeWoman said...

I've enjoyed and feel enriched by this in depth look behind those powerful abstract paintings. Thanks!