Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Art Space Talk: Cindy Wiseman

I discovered the art of Cindy Wiseman while observing art on Stimulated by the physical qualities of the natural world, Cindy paints environments that contain a sense of place without literal representation. Her paintings always have a strong relationship with light that oftentimes reflect an indefinable reality.

Cindy extracts the essence from nature and explore its mysteries, which forms a personal visual language. This painterly communication aids interpretation of the culture, terrain, and era in which she lives. She offers no tangible narrative or realism. Her desire is to introduce the viewer to an atmospheric space where a new engaging reality can be experienced.

Brian Sherwin: Cindy, as a child you were kind of nomadic. You moved with your parents over thirty times. How did this vagabond lifestyle influence your later work?

Cindy Wiseman: We moved so often when I was growing up that the only consistent things were family, my connectedness to the terrain, crayons, pencils, paper and books. My best friend was my vivid imagination.
To entertain myself I sketched and created realities on paper or tucked myself into nature playing in the new surroundings.
Reading was also important; I read my way through multiple phases of growing up. All of these things influence my artwork and affect the way I relate to my environment

BS: During the early years you predominately worked in clay. You eventually evolved into working with metal and stone. What inspired you to change your artistic practice? Where will your work take you next as far as exploring mediums is concerned?
CW: Please remember we are talking about an expanse of around thirty years—this amount of time often brings multiple evolutions for an artist. Changes can occur in medium due to discovering a new medium that you fall helplessly in love with, family considerations, or physical challenges.
I tend to work in a very focused, obsessive way. Long hours in the studio are pleasing to me and necessary. Also, I am independent and like to work alone doing most things for myself, though this tendency hasn’t always been to my advantage.
Working in clay was physically demanding. After about seven years I began to have problems hauling the weight of the materials. It was also about this time that there was a terminal illness in my family and major life changes took place. I choose to leave the studio and concentrate on my sons care. After those experiences I was changed as a person and artist. I started slowly reshaping my studio and life, which eventually led me into working in metals and stone for the next twelve years.
There are certain things a metalsmith does in the studio, like hammering and polishing, which can be brutal on one’s hands. I used my hands and arms so much in thisperiod that I began to have serious physical repercussions. Due to this, I was forced to leave metals and rethink my career.
Notably, these turning points led me into working in my next medium with greater intensity. Each shift has ultimately been more satisfying artistically.Where will my explorations take me next? I am completely involved with painting and don’t foresee working in any other concentration.

BS: Cindy, based on your experience... over three decades of artistic exploration...what advice can you give to artists who are just starting out?

CW: I find it beneficial to work consistently, take short breaks, and keep working in the studio regardless if I’m in a dry period or a period of success. Give art to your community. Art is a powerful means to communicate but be clear about what you want to say in your work. Follow your passion in art and think of it as an investment—don’t hesitate to put your time and money into your studio.

BS: Cindy, you took a painting course that altered your life. Since that time youhave painted and drawn with a passion. Do you think that it is important for artists to explore several mediums instead of focusing on one? A lot of people suggest that it is better to focus on one medium, but it would seem- from observing your work- that said advice (single concentration) may actually hold some artists back. Do you agree?

CW: Being involved with multiple mediums over an extended period of time has been beneficial in my development. Realize that I tend to focus for several years on a medium or specific concept. Past experiences in clay and metal offer broader understanding of three-dimensional space, which accentuates the way I relate to painting.
I value the luxury of single concentration with a medium—it allows me to gain understanding of the diversity of what the medium has, or doesn’t have to offer my work. But I don’t believe in ignoring things that repeatedly attract my attention, it may hold an important key.
My observation about artistic development is that it is an individual affair, although sometimes development has more to do with work ethic than medium. Important to me is to work consistently and produce bodies of work. Through observation of the collection, I can usually see where my work is cohesive and where I need to make changes.

BS: Since those early days of clay you have went on to obtain a BFA in studio painting and an MFA in studio art. Where will your studies take you next?

CW: For the last three years I have been studying the connection of abstract painting and color associated with the pulse of the landscape in north central New Mexico. This is a personal painterly investigation as well as a spiritual, contemporary and historical study. I feel that I have just scratched the surface and plan to continue.
I look at art that interests me and cultivate communication with artists’ whose opinions I respect. This combination stimulates my way of living and creating. A priority is time to cloister myself in the studio. I’m not sure what will unfold from this period of work. I do know I will be painting my way through it all and this will inform me as to what I need to do next.
Currently my past and present relationships with art making are uniting when I paint, its very stimulating.

BS: What else inspires or influences your work... beside childhood memories?

CW: My main influences are the illusive and often abstract color, multifaceted layering of life, and luminosity found the natural world. I see landscape as the heartbeat of our culture. It is ever changing, devoid of fads and when closely inspected, offers anintangible space that continually captivates my imagination.

BS: Cindy, have you ever thought of documenting your experiences in art... such as writing a book?

CW: Right now writing a book would take me away from precious hours in the studio.Perhaps in the future, but actually I would rather my paintings speak for me.

BS: Cindy, you have stated that you access a voice of reason in an unsettled world through painting and drawing. You have went on to say that your paintings are a reaction to living in the environment and help you to interpret the culture, terrain, and era that you live in. Do these views stem from you youth? In otherwords, you looking for a sense of belonging through your art? Does creating art give you a foundation to stand on?

CW: Yes, there is influence in my work derived from childhood. While growing up I found a safe haven in nature, often spending long hours observing or playing with organic forms (trees, creeks, nooks and crannies) or exploring the passage ways in a new town where we relocated. These forms and explorations eventually found there way into my paintings in the abstracted urbanscapes, crevices and light filled spaces.
I usually feel a sense of belonging more in nature than I do in the city or being around masses of people; this is reflected in my work. But also I recognize my need for diversity and multiple cultures in my environment, so I am conscious of keeping this type of balance when I can.
My outer environment is an important informant for my needs in painting. It is not necessarily “a sense of belonging” that my work offers, but it is a means for me to interpret. Fore instance, I start with a basic concept for a painting and as I get into the work, it changes form evolving into something beyond my original idea.
After a piece is completed, often I see an influence or subject that was a stimulus. When I am in the act of painting I may not be consciously aware of that influence. My artwork is an informant about my innermost thoughts. The information I gain from my paintings adds to the foundation of my work and life, thus giving me a broader understanding of my emotions and environment.

BS: Can you go into further detail about your artistic process? How do you know when a piece can go no further?

CW: Sketching is core to my process. I always carry a sketchbook and sketch from life or doodle as well as record my thoughts on art making. What I put into my sketchbooks is something I often return to for clarification about a thought or idea, a specific place, or artwork I’ve viewed. I don’t necessarily draw what I end up painting.
Mostly I depict the world around me ranging from art I appreciate, and interesting piece of trash in the streets, a cup of coffee…whatever catches my attention…but always people. I find sketching people when they are unaware helps me keep pulse of the emotional climate, which informs my work.

Sometimes finishing a painting is like a question and answer session. The paint or surface begins to lead me with a question of space, emotion, or need for density or illumination. When I stand back and observe what I am working on, it either answers that longing or it feels unanswered and devoid of my intent—that’s when I know I need to go further or back away from the work.
Having different perspectives in viewing offers valuable information regarding if a work is finished or needs tweaking. I have a mirror in my studio where I can look at the painting when I’m working.
Sometimes I’ll photograph the stages and look at them in another format. And a biggie…time is a valuable tool. It is good to get away from your work for a while, then return to it and sit to examine it with fresh eyes.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the artworld in general?

CW: Support the arts in your community, state, country, and internationally. View art. Make art. Sell art. Buy art. Talk art. Live as art.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Cindy Wiseman and her art. You can learn more by visiting her website:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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