Somojo Magazine

Phoenix - The Moody Artist

How did you discover your talent for art?
Mostly through my need to just doodle-draw and loving the feeling of the freedom of simply moving the brush or knife over a surface with great colors. This may sound alittle strange, but since I was a child I’ve been able to master being in the ‘zone of the alpha brain waves’ which gives me the space to perceive from another dimension what shows up on my canvas.

What or who inspired you to paint/draw in the first place?
My aunt who was a wonderful pastel artist.  One special piece my mom had of hers was in our house.  A bigger-than-life magnolia flower.  Everytime I looked at it, I felt inspired and connected to the ‘creative’ in me.  My mom gave me lots of paint-by-numbers from a young age and I would spend hours and hours painting them.

What do you think is the most important influence in your art?
Music.  Jazz and Blues fill my soul with such energy and color!  I simply must use that to create some visual expression and usually with bright colors with lots of movement.

Where do you do your work?
I have a ‘way too small’ space in my living room.  My dream is as many an artist, to live and work in a loft with lots of space for ‘bigger-than-life’ creations!  One good thing about my small space is that the minute you come through my front door, there’s the easel and my art strung on the walls everywhere.  That quick exposure has definitely sold some paintings.

Do you work from life, from photographs or from imagination?
I’m guilty of it all!  I call myself the The Moody Artist for a reason!

What are you currently working on?
I am between pieces right now.  I usually only focus on one piece at a time.  I will start something new in the next few days.  I’ve had a temporary interruption do to an injury.

High Surf by Phoenix 'The Moody Artist'
High Surf by Phoenix


Do you have any new projects planned?
I haven’t worked with scratch-board in years and have become very interested in experimenting with it again.  The materials are ready to go.  Recently I picked up some more materials and the ideas have been perculating.  I don’t usually plan, I just start with what ‘moves’ me; music, a color or something that haunts me enough to make it ‘real’ on canvas.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
This is a loaded question!  If I have a strong subject in mind how it is executed is crucial and methodicle.  When I am free-expressing more abstract, sometimes how I execute it to keep it alive and moving without restraint is more important.  I seem to go between keeping it loose and then doing something that is tedious, tight and the subject rules overall.

What techniques do you use?
My mind goes everywhere from this question, and what you are really asking about.  I’ll answer that I love texture, movement and developing actual 3-D.  I layer and layer and layer, maybe up to at least 10 layers.  I may use a lot of glaze and paints in various layering manners.  I did a keyboard, building the black keys up to ¼” 3-D.  I’ve done a lot of work with acrylics using the 3-D to build out flowers, corn or whatever I like the texture of and to make it build up from the canvas.  I love using the palette knife for drama and depth.  I rarely paint ‘flat’ without some texture.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
In my early years as a professional artist I only used oils.  I became too sensitive to the toxicity of working with oils and turpentine.  I stopped painting all together for many years.  When acrylics became accepted professionally I started to do my paintings with Golden products and love the mediums they have for great versatility.  I will be giving the ‘water-based oils’ a trial use next to see if they are as good as using real oils as I’ve heard.  My first love was oils, and my technique is quite different with oils than with acrylics.  I like to experiment and mix things up.  I am starting a new phase, we’ll see what shows up!

Do you concentrate mostly on content or technique in your work?
Again, this mostly depends on my mood, truly.  I trade off, and sometimes I concentrate on both.  I am a bit of a perfectionist and am quite detailed by nature, but I can also let it all flow and just go where the mood takes me.  The music I choose to paint by really can change everything. I may start one way and totally groove a different way as I go.

Do you work certain hours each day or only when you are inspired?
I only paint if I am inspired or if I have been staring at something and feel the need to make a change.  I can be obsessive and paint for any entire day and into the evening for weeks.  I pretty much feel inspired any time, any day.  I am a ‘project’ person, not a ‘routine’ person, I paint because I love it, not as a duty.  I don’t experience ‘blocks’ to being creative, I just need more time for all the ideas I have!

Where do you feel your art is going?
I have no idea!  I just let the ideas, creativity and openness to what is next show me.

Jazz Alive by Phoenix 'The Moody Artist'
Jazz Alive by Phoenix

What do you think the role of the artist is in society and do you think that role is changing with the advances of technology?
I definitely think that technology is advancing art into a whole new dimension!  I think it is rather exciting for those who know how to use it for their expression.  It tweeks our perception and can give us that ‘other worldly’ question of reality.  It isn’t my form or my desire to use it in my work, but I do have great appreciation for it.
The role of an artist in society I think is very personal.  Introverted artists are more likely to just create from within and have nothing to do consciously with how the role is to society.  I know other artists in which it matters and of course art is very impactful on society.  Is it our role to make that impact -- for me not so much intentionally.  If someone feels more alive, happy or connected as a result of viewing or owning my art, than my art has touched someone’s heart and soul.  I love when I get compliments and comments in any way because then I know someone has paid attention to something inside them that makes them stop and ‘be’ for a moment.  That’s all I can ask, I don’t feel it is my role as an artist or anyone else’s.

Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
I am all about a more energetic expressive technique!  I think that more texture, color and depth brings more richness and drama.  I don’t like drama in my life, but I sure love it on canvas!  When I paint I want to really feel the brush or knife come alive, as if it has it’s own life force energy and simply needs me to be present enough to allow it to move, groove and goo itself into form, shape or whatever on canvas.

What is your favourite period in art history?
I don’t have a favourite period.

Who are your favourite artists?
Picasso is my favourite, he was a real genius, gifted and versatile.  Did I mention moody too?
I also really appreciate Dali, Monet, Calder, DiVinci, Rembrandt and Renoir.  Andy Warhol and some more contempory artist I like too.  I tend to like Realism, Abstract and Surreal, not as much Impressionalism.

What is your favourite painting/piece of art and why?
There are so many!  I’ll keep this to something simple; Picasso’s, Child With Dove.  It is so simple, child-like and has a naïve quality about it. There are of course so many more really stunning art pieces by great Masters, but this one is unpretencious and innocent.

How do your market and promote your work?
I am using social-media, websites, business networking and being in exhibitions and having my own art shows and being in juried art shows.

Have you held any exhibitions?
Yes, all in Southern Calilfornia.  I may change this and branch out more.

Do you use any online services like ‘imagekind.com’, ‘redbubble’ or ‘cafepress’?
I am not familiar with these or what they do.  I use Flickr, Picasa and am a member of the World Art Foundation, all online; as well as a Page on Facebook for The Moody Artist.

Do you think the internet has changed people’s appreciation of art by making it more accessible?
I really don’t know, but would like to know if someone has truly surveyed this.

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to take up painting or drawing?
Just do it!  Pretend you are still a child and start with an open and empty mind and just doodle.  Or start with finger painting.  If you think you have no creative abilities you are wrong.  You just need to find how you best take what is inside and don’t judge what comes outside in your expression.  Once you’ve accepted you can express yourself anyway you want, then you can take classes to learn and develop ideas and techniques.  If you feel you don’t do or feel well drawing, then try painting or pastels.  There is something for everyone to be expressive!

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