Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MOOD Joan DaGradi

 Joan DaGradi is a painter in New Orleans, LA. Her artist statement and bio are included in the interview below.  She describes the areas of her home where she works as spacious and well lit - no surprise there, look at the vast space she created in this painting below.  It and others can be seen at

"Before the age of five, DaGradi was introduced to, and became good friends with, pencil and paper. They were her constant companions in childhood, spending countless hours of enjoyment drawing figures jumping, dancing and running, from memory. There was an innocent joy and pleasure in feeling the movement of the figures on the pages as she drew using the primitive visual language native to us all. During college, she drew the figures of the National Guard as they were stationed on her campus, graduating later to paint pastel portraits at Malcolm’s Art Emporium in Provincetown. DaGradi began her studies in color and painting at the renowned Cape School of Art in Provincetown, MA, a colorist's university, far removed from any urban strife.  
Like many artists, Joan has explored oils, watercolors, pastels and sculpture in the vigorous pursuit of self expression. Having won awards for her work in all of the aforementioned media, DaGradi chose painting as a vehicle to experience and share her contemporary vision of reality. While always looking forward, DaGradi has never forgotten the many amazing artists of the past, who set the bar high and continue to inspire her."

What are the themes and medium of your art?
I work in both watercolor and oil media. My work is always representational and drawn from my own experiences, observations, emotions and memory. 
For the past 30 years, I have painted regularly on location, outside in the fresh air, sunshine or rain. Today, this is known as plein air painting, which as been around since the invention of tube paints in the mid 1800’s. I also paint still life in plein air, but most often enjoy painting still life indoors using natural daylight.  Still life painting is very labor intensive often requiring weeks or months to complete and it is just not as practical due to the changing weather, to work on still life outdoors for an extended period. 
In my landscape work, I have usually painted small oil sketches on location and then returned to the studio to complete a larger finished piece. Recently, I found that I prefer to start a piece with a watercolor sketch, or a series of sketches, and then proceed to paint a larger oil from those. Occasionally, I will reverse the process and take an oil sketch and paint a watercolor from that. I enjoy both mediums for their unique qualities and value them equally. I sometimes use photo references that I've taken as a starting point, but always change everything in the painting. For me, photos are extremely boring and I don't copy them.*
 What is the best way for people to buy your art? 
Currently the best way to buy my work would be to contact me  through my website or to contact Paula KorÅ„ye Tillman at(817) 763-5227 for my work in oils.
What’s your work space like? 
I work out of my home. I have a large studio room set up on the  second floor of my residence, where there is north light and I usually paint all of my still life work in that space. I also am fortunate to have a separate studio space in a cottage that fronts my property. I use that space primarily for painting landscapes and figurative work in either oil or watercolor. It has gallery lighting and would be a suitable place to set up a small show.
Do you ever create outside of your studio? If so, please tell us about your traveling set up. 
I frequently work outdoors, weather permitting, sometimes painting in the French Quarter or traveling to Wyoming or wherever to paint on location. I adore painting mountains. When I paint on location far from home, I use either a half-sized French easel which easily fits overhead in a plane compartment or a tripod with an adapter to hold  canvas or paper support and a shelf. I prefer the tripod set-up for watercolors, as it’s easy to adjust the tilt. I've used the French easel so often that it feels like a third arm. I often use it indoors for painting still life as well
 When is the best time for you to create?
I work primarily in daylight. If I’m traveling, then all day is my favorite time to paint. At home, I prefer painting either early in the morning and/or from 2-6 in the afternoon. From experience, I have learned to fight the temptation to paint at night as well, because I have found that the next morning, aside from being tired, nothing looks quite like it did the night before. 
 Are there any special conditions you enjoy or even require?
The most special condition that I love most is painting on location in the mountains, with a light cool breeze and the sounds of birds singing.  Barring that, I’m happy to work on location in the city, but I find it very distracting to have people frequently ask me questions or just talk at me while I’m working. Last week, while I painted on location in the French Quarter, someone came up and started talking at me. It sounded like Chinese at first...then gradually I realized that he was speaking English. All I could say was “I’m sorry”. I had been so concentrated working on the watercolor, that I couldn’t snap back immediately. I soon realized that he was in my face, telling me that his medium was photography (?). Another fellow did the same thing earlier, before I was able to concentrate, this time looking at what I was painting and taking his own series of photographs. “Done”, he said proudly, while I continued to work.
In my studio, I prefer to keep it as organized as I can, which means I clean it fairly often- removing the piles that spring up overnight. I usually paint with music or silence- never the TV. That would be a deal breaker for me. My husband, a wonderful musician, plays saxophone and his office space adjoins my still life studio in our home. I really enjoy hearing him practice when I’m painting nearby.
 What feelings do you hope to evoke from your audience with your art? Is there anything about your work space that helps you channel those energies? How do you know when you've made your message clear or if people “got it”?
I never know if I’ve made any message clear until someone buys a piece, but a collector comes to my studio fairly often and she’s wonderful about giving feedback. I don’t necessarily try to evoke a feeling from an audience as much as I try to nail down the feeling that I have. I can’t please everyone or even anyone, and I don’t have any control over someone else’s perceptions. Its always a thrill when someone responds positively. Some responses are very touching and surprisingly tender.
Is there anything else you want to say about how you work or what you do, or any aspect of this topic?
 Being able to paint and create is a privilege. I constantly try new things, new ways of working while using the best time-tested materials available.
Artist Statement:
Painting, for me, is a vehicle to transcribe my emotional response to the external, visible world.  I enjoy painting because my impressions are visual and it is easier for me to express joy through color, rather than through words. Using either watercolors or oils, my end goal is always a poetic statement.
I use paint as a vehicle to experience a quiet, joyous, upbeat and contemporary version of reality.  Whether surrounded by mountain vistas, the pulse of urban living, or watching as light reveals the beautiful color harmonies of still life objects, I am grateful for the ability to see and respond. 
How does the mood in your studio affect the mood of your art?
I have set up both of my studios to be as conducive as possible to creating art by being places that I enjoy and want to stay in. When I paint, the last thing I want to be concerned with is my environment. When I am comfortable and free to concentrate on the work at hand, then laying the groundwork for painting is much easier. Since painting comes from a place of joy, for me, the mood takes care of itself if I am able to concentrate, which is supported by having the tools I need be relatively organized. I’m not excessively neat by any stretch, but I don’t want to waste time and energy looking for basic stuff. For landscapes, I use a large handcrafted taboret with palette space that I purchased from AU Frames. It has a generous palette area, with a glass top for oils, a built-in turp area, and a small amount of desktop storage.
The walls in my still life studio are lined with rows of still life objects that I find interesting or beautiful in some way. In the landscape studio, I recently had a carpenter build a large table across one wall with multiple storage racks for large oils. Having adequate storage is key to keeping any studio comfortable and organized. Both studio spaces are painted in colors that I find soothing and both have at least one viewing wall with gallery lighting, to be able to replicate as closely as possible what the painting will look like when it is shown in a gallery setting.


I want to clarify one sentence that I wrote last night, bc it could easily be misinterpreted.
It was added in haste, to the first question about mediums, I think.
I added it bc its a real 'thing' for beginning painters to copy photographs and then call it their own work.
I wrote:

For me, photos are extremely boring and I don't copy them.
What I meant to say is that I find copying photographic references very boring, not the photos themselves.
In copying a photo or another painting, the artist has completely lost sight of what painting really is: a personal interpretation of something. It can be abstracted or realistic, but there's always some idea or thought that starts the process to finding a solution. When an artist copies a photograph with the intent of copying the photograph, where's the room for the personal interpretation?
I believe that photography does some things very well, that painting can't compete with.
I also believe that painting does some things very well that are not the province of photography.
There may be overlap in the hands of some genius photographers-artists-paiinters, but for the average person, why start out trying to replicate another art form? Pick the one that suits you best and learn how to fully use that media to its fullest.

**Thanks again for taking on this project. I thought it is a great idea and I also felt that your questions were well conceived.

In terms of images, I am happy for you to take anything off of my web page or from my blog at I really like the last image posted on the blog of a marsh scene with a moody sky. 

MOOD joey feldman

Joey Feldman put three desks into the second bedroom of his apartment in Los Angeles to make a space for channeling some negative feelings in a positive way. I can't help but wonder how much the cat influences his final work! See more at

What are the themes and medium of your art:
my art is based on how i feel, could be a mood, a news article, etc mostly  fueled by anger and resentment, i take it out on the paper rather then in the “real” world pen/inks acrylics have always worked for me

What is the best way for people to buy your art? website is easiest, i like to speak with clients first

 What’s your workspace like? a 2nd bedroom in my apartment, 3 desks, an easel and my cat who acts as my studio assistant

Do you work outside of the studio? If so, please tell us about that. sketch and drawing classes outside of studio

 When is the best time for you to create? i have a ritual almost everyday, alarm rings at 425 am, i have my iced coffee from the night before and meditate for 20 mins and get to the drawing board by 5 am. i work until i run out of energy. if theres any mindless rendering to be done in the afternoon, i can that but the design energy usually has left

Are there any special conditions you enjoy or even require? i tend to make a mess but my studio has to be neat walking into it. i clean the night before so i dont step into a mess. there can be no bills, clothes around-that stuff bothers me. i listen to audio books and some music. if i pick the wrong music-it may change the work

What feelings do you hope to evoke from your audience with your art? Is there anything about your workspace that helps you channel those energies? How do you know when you’ve made your message clear or if people “got it”? i dont know if the worksapce has any influence in that regard but  i love posting the finished work on social media and getting comments from the audience of what they see/feel in the work. some people get it right away, others come from left field , comment what it means to them and i love it! if i could get a message out, any message or have someone feel something simply by viewing my work, ive done my job. and what blows me away, id say 80% of the audience is looking at the work on a phone!

Is there anything else you want to say about how you work or what you do, or any aspect of this topic? i have to draw everyday. if i don’t, i get very self centered and sort of depressed. so there is a benefit not only for being able to support myself but a therapuatic value to me showing up everyday. i never know whats going to happen. i never really know what im going to draw that day and thats enough for me to keep showing up. i also try to not take myself too seriously 

MOOD Laura White

Laura White is an artist and teacher in Frederick MD 2 hours from Washington D.C. her website is and you can see images of her work there.  She describes her work space not only as the heart of her home, but also as a place for physical movement of the body.  

I am an artist and art teacher who attended Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. I joined a cult directly after graduation, and my recovery process has prompted me to delve into questions about spirit, how we learn, the mind, social messages and compassion. My images are educational, self redemptive and strive to bring insight about human vulnerability and strength. (Did I just write that?)
I work in several mediums and disciplines. The general theme is mindfulness, but each series looks at mindfulness in a different way, whether emotional, spiritual, intellectual, kinesthetic, etc. I am just now beginning to codify this process for myself and documenting my process on a new blog called Multilaura on Blogspot. http:////  Emily, be the first to subscribe! I am learning about polymathy- the process of using one discipline to learn more deeply about a completely different discipline. And considering if I might have a touch of synesthesia. 

What’s your work space like? I am sad that I just moved out of my beloved studio, and happy that I am now working in my home. My apartment is in the upper level of a historic Victorian house, with lovely wood carved trim and roof eaves. My new studio takes stage in my living room, the heart of my home. There's a very large easel near the sliding door to the deck that lets in Southern exposure sun. While the space is quite a bit smaller than my former space, the difference in storage has prompted me to eliminate materials that I never use, and focus on what I do. In the corner of the room is my indigo work table, where my geisha muse doll from Japan overlooks my work. I have an open floor for choreographing movement for performances or for isolating expressive poses for 2D work.

Do you ever create outside of your studio? If so, please tell us about your traveling set up. My boyfriend also has a studio, where I have one very large painting in progress. Sometimes I plan creative excursions to "feed" my studio time and keep the experimental energy going. For example, I like to do rubbings of iron work in the city I live in, or take pictures of things in a predetermined theme like, texture, or city/nature. 

When is the best time for you to create? Part of my codifying research is to determine when is the best time to do what. In the morning while I'm still groggy, writing is best. That usually primes me for being active at the gym, tai chi practice or choreography. I have different creative outlets all day which I have to protect from the demands of chores and daily maintenances- but beyond morning hours, I don't know exactly what incites the creative processes I have.

Are there any special conditions you enjoy or even require? Great question!! I definitely need a tidy environment so that my state of mind and focus are unfettered. Sometimes this means using a music selection to enhance my focus or having silence. I've developed a bad habit of streaming Netflix in the background for company, which doesn't support the flow very well.  

What feelings do you hope to evoke from your audience with your art? Is there anything about your work space that helps you channel those energies? How do you know when you've made your message clear or if people “got it”? I give myself full permission to "go for the jugular" in my art. I'm not afraid to reflect on what is For the past two decades I've put a lot of care into how the message is communicated- much the same way as a graphic designer does. What will this material/line quality/color/movement/light/sound evoke? What happens when I juxtapose this with that? I've been able to understand my palette of choices and reach for the element that will bring about the message I'm conveying. As for channeling energies, I'm beginning to realize that deep attention to each creative decision I make- especially the quiet spontaneous decisions- will help me create a "map" and feel more in control. At this time, I feel I'm at the whim of spontaneous energies, rather than intentionally building my day so that specific creative modalities can have their turn. 

Is there anything else you want to say about how you work or what you do, or any aspect of this topic? These questions are very helpful in beginning the self understanding and codifying I've decided to embark on. As an art teacher, these are the questions I keep in mind when evoking an inspiring learning environment. I'll definitely continue reflecting on these questions and will likely write about them in my blog.

Emily, I think this project you've got is about far more than marketing or sharing process with non artists. When I first read your proposal to ABLO, I thought, "great, now my parents will have a chance to understand what I do!" But there's more in the periphery, the topic of creativity and all the ways creativity can be defined is very relevant now in education, industry and psychology. (Slow Learning proponents, Daniel Pink, Mihalyi Cziksentmihalyi... some of my heros) . I've been thinking of going back for my master's degree in Art Education with a focus on defining creativity and it's processes. I'm taking great encouragement from your project, and I love how the intention of marketing and sharing dovetails with self understanding and exploring the vast terrain of creativity. I look forward to the results you gather and offer assistance if you need help growing this. 

Can you say more about how the idea came to you?

MOOD Alicia R Peterson

Alicia R Peterson paints contemporary, abstract art in acrylic on linen or canvas in the NYC greater area. Here's her artist statement, which can be found at where one may also purchase her work. 

I create space for the unspeakable. I birth unworldly creatures and they linger in the shadows. I paint from the heart intuitively in raw expression. I percolate, ripen and my work pours out of me. I flow. I see the persistence of my essence and it feeds me.
Sometimes, I paint the power of less.
I am a self-taught artist. An inner voice called to me in 1994. I painted what I thought no one could see. What I did not know. I held my work close, private. I took studio art classes but left feeling constrained. Instead, I chose to paint voraciously in solitude.
In 2013, I embraced my longing to be seen and understood. Philip Pearlstein curated my first NY group exhibition at Gallery North in East Setauket. Shortly after, I began studies with painter Stan Brodsky at the Art League of Long Island.I am honored to be a Doctor of Audiology, and retired in 2010 after twenty-six years. Art is my lifeblood.
Line, color and space connect us. I paint our universal existence. In this ecstatic moment we are not alone.
Alicia R Peterson, Copyright © 2014


Do you paint en plein air? If so, please tell us about your traveling studio.
Just recently doing abstract workings in plein air a very interesting and challenging experience.
 When is the best time for you to create?
Always… my artist eye never stops looking and creating
Are there any special conditions you enjoy or even require?
I get paint all over my studio and me and I relish this!     I will listen to music or listen to the sounds of nature or listen to the music within.  I often dance before hand to get the creative juices going.
What feelings do you hope to evoke from your audience with your art?
My about page talks on this
Line, color and space connect us. I paint our universal existence. In this ecstatic moment we are not alone.

Is there anything about your workspace that helps you channel those energies? How do you know when you’ve made your message clear or if people “got it”?
I see moments of transformation in people’s faces as they enter my paintings.    These moments are some of my most significant moments as an artist.  

Recent works

Or VIDEO!!!!

MOOD interview with Sally Herman

Sally Herman is a collage artist in Montreal, Quebec.  She is a graduate of Ringling College of Art + Design and has had a career in advertising in NYC and SF. Her art invites the viewer to make their own story, or add for themselves to what she already glued down in textures, letters and colors.  More of her work can be seen at: and

What’s your workspace like?

Ha! I'm in the middle of transitioning out of a walk-in closet, to a WHOLE ROOM in my home at the moment. I've actually enjoyed my time in the little space, but I'm starting to spend too much time moving things around in order to work - so my son's recently vacated room will be my new studio by summer's end.

When is the best time for you to create?

Right now, I work from 9AM till 1 or 2PM if I can pull it off. Monday through Friday. Afternoons are for art-related work on the computer, etc.

Are there any special conditions you enjoy or even require?

I prefer to work in silence - my ideas are noisy enough! I work with little scraps of paper, so while that threatens to become chaotic at times, I try to keep it fairly organized.

What feelings do you hope to evoke from your audience with your art? Is there anything about your workspace that helps you channel those energies? How do you know when you’ve made your message clear or if people “got it”?

Oh gosh, I don't know if anyone will 'get' what I do. I only hope that they see this work and respond to it emotionally. That they feel happy, rested, refreshed and even a bit energized after looking at my work. I hadn't thought of it before, but my workspace needs to be calm, happy, busy, - all the things I feel my collages reflect.

Is there anything else you want to say about how you work or what you do, or any aspect of this topic? 

I don't know if this is on topic for you, but I've been struggling with how to arrange my new space. It sounds funny, but the little space forced me to work with what I had available. In the new space, I'm almost paralyzed with the idea of how big to make the table, how many tables can I get into the space, where will the shelves (that I've never had but desperately need) go, how many will I need, etc, etc? I'm finding it more difficult to "upgrade" than I thought I would!

MOOD series introduction

Does the artist’s studio Influence the mood of finished art?

The following posts are a short series of interviews with artists, discussing their work environment and the feelings they communicate with their art. 

This is a response to a challenge from Alyson Stanfield, the Art Biz Coach.  She wanted us to practice talking about art and connecting with our community by promoting another classmate.  I decided this was a good chance to get to know a few of my colleagues, and also to discuss with them something that had been on my mind for a while - how much the conditions of our work space is actually felt by the audience in the finished work of art. 

When I was applying to art schools, I learned that admissions interviewers do not want to hear answers like “I am passionate about art and have been doing it my whole life” when they ask applicants why they want to go to their school.  All artists have those feelings, but they’re just the first step of self-awareness when it comes to making a career of art.  It’s important to dig deeper, and to think about how our art is relevant to other people besides ourselves.  Check out what our coach says about art: “Many people say art is self-expression, but I believe that in its most powerful and life-affirming state, art is a form of communication.  I think your art is incomplete until someone else experiences it.  It must get out into the world” and “Something magical happens when people interact with your art in a real space.  And when they finally make a deep, meaningful connection with the work, I call it an Ecstatic Encounter.  Aren’t these Ecstatic Encounters what you live for? Aren’t they Why you do what you do?” proving, once again, that she really gets both business AND art – you can learn more about her at

I wanted to know if I could create a painting that makes people feel calm and at peace, even if the conditions in which I’m painting were nothing like that scene.  Is it common for a grouchy artist to make cheerful art? If my feelings during the process of painting can be felt long after it’s hung on the wall and I’m not standing next to the painting talking about it, then the ideal space is worth cultivating.  Artists are often reminded that if we were “real”, that we would create despite any obstacle.  I’m arguing that even though creative people continue expressing themselves even when they’re uncomfortable or don’t have good supplies, that for an artist to really thrive, to really make their best art, that they must also have some kind of control over their working environment. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Almonds Are Back

I'm back to work! Here's a little 7"x 10" watercolor painting I'm working on, revisiting the theme that pointillism is nuts.