Artist Interview: Chloe Wilson

posted on December 8, 2016 by
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Chloe Wilson Artist Interview We are thrilled to feature our very own YACalum Chloe Wilson (who also joined our staff 3 years ago) in our newest Artist Interview. Her art is brilliant and captivating. Plus she's so prolific, that her recent paintings are currently on exhibit in three separate places in Monterey and Santa Cruz. If you can't see them in person, be sure to check out her work online at chloewilsonart.com and on instagram @chloewilsonart. We think she's on the rise.

Tell us about the subject matter/content of your work. Recently, the clash of minimalism and excess, in structural, thematic, and visual terms. But the actual, most basic, and ostensibly superficial content is mostly just proper nouns (ha) – people, places and things.

Tell us about how you work/your process. I have over 15,000 photos on my computer, so recently I’ve been mining that store for references to get started. I usually sketch things out before - with drawings sometimes I use a light box and with paintings sometimes I use a grid. I work pretty quickly. When things aren’t working I’m not afraid to throw things out or scrap them completely (I have a lot of sandpaper on hand for painting mishaps).

What medium(s) do you work with? Acrylic paint on wood or canvas, pen and ink on paper. I have worked in all kinds of other mediums (ceramics, printmaking, etc.), but am currently focused solely on painting and drawing, for simplicity’s sake.

About how many hours/day/week do you work? I try to work in my studio every day, usually about 2-5 hours a day. During deadlines the hours are longer Chloe Wilson in studio

How do you navigate the art world? Honestly, I don’t. I moved back to Monterey in 2013 with the idea of pursuing my art as a career “for real,” but not knowing exactly what that meant. Since then I’ve tried on many iterations of what a career in making things might be for me (stationery, gifts, design, lettering, zines, ceramic products, etc. etc.). I applied for craft fairs, zine fests, and all sorts of random projects that looked like fun. It’s been a process. I’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way, and I am finally figuring out exactly what I want to be doing, which means exactly the type of work I find fulfilling. My focus now is on developing that. When I have a stronger portfolio I will start to dip my toes into “the art world.”

What is your definition of success? In terms of art, success is consistently producing work that I am proud of and pushing myself to develop and grow. Being able to show my work and sell it is nice too. In terms of life, I would say success is finding and maintaining balance.

What inspires you? What do you read, listen to, look at, watch, eat, smell…? When I see really incredible art it always makes me want to get into the studio and work. Other than that I sort of don’t believe in inspiration, although I do believe that you have to feed your brain (and that your work will be better for it). Reading books is the best possible thing anyone can do! Right now I’m reading Middlemarch (George Eliot) and Pataphysical Essays (Rene Daumal), plus I just started working my way through Italian Folktales (Italo Calvino). I sporadically listen to podcasts – mainly New Books Network, The 7th Avenue Project, and What’s the T. I listen to a lot of music when I’m working. My preferences are all over the place, but recent go-tos include Susana Baca, Timber Timbre, and Tom Waits (but I also listen to way too much KDON in my car). I rarely have the opportunity to watch TV but do rent movies sometimes. Off the top of my head some favorites I’ve seen over the last year are Hail Caesar!, Orpheus, and Pink Flamingoes.

What else would you do if you weren’t an artist (or what do you do when you aren’t making art)? I work part time at YAC, doing administrative/development work as well as website/social media/design work. (So, yes, I will be the one posting this article.) I’m incredibly lucky to have a part time job that I love - I work for my mentors and I get to be immersed in an amazing community of artists! Chloe Wilson Art

What are you working on now? I just finished a new series of paintings that’s showing at Stripe Men in Santa Cruz for the month of December. So right now I have three shows up – at Stripe Men, as a part of YAC’s Holiday Show, and at Café Lumiere in downtown Monterey.

How do you get yourself through dry spells, self-esteem fluctuations, deep shyness, general low periods, inertia? I talk about it with my partner, who is brilliant and funny and always knows how to remind me that everything’s okay. Going for walks, hanging out with friends, and gardening are other good options. I do really well when I’m working towards a specific goal such as a show, so it’s often during dry spells that I apply for shows.

Tell us about your education and background. Self taught? Mentors? Art college? Lessons? Internet? Combo? I was born and raised in PG, and grew up always making things. I went to York and then joined YAC as a sophomore. I studied art and Spanish at UC Davis, and got an informal education living in Barcelona, Chicago, and Oakland, respectively. I’ve been very fortunate to have had a ton of supportive and amazing mentors and teachers who have helped me every step of the way. My parents are wildly supportive - they let me move back in with them twice! Also, YAC cofounders Meg and Marcia have been my mentors for over ten years now(!), and over that time they have been an endless source of encouragement, real-world knowledge, humor, and friendship. Plus, it was from them that I first learned to work in a series, to maintain an online presence, and to finish the edges of my canvas. Jan Wagstaff worked with me at York so that I could take AP Art independently - even though it wasn’t officially a class yet. Annabeth Rosen and Stella Ebner – who I studied under at Davis - were both phenomenal, and even now I still think about the ways they approached their work.

Best advice you ever got? From my brother: “Send it.”

Any feedback on the value of YAC? The real value of YAC is that it provides a model for what the world is like outside of school, where you are responsible for setting your own goals and working towards them a little bit everyday. YAC gives you that responsibility, and gives you room to take ownership of your studio and your work. Along the way you’ll gain community and self-confidence, but most importantly, you come out of it more equipped to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s an invaluable experience that will serve you well, no matter what your career path looks like.

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