Artspan sits down with water color artists Louise De Masi.
Your work seems more defined than many watercolors—with more detail and harder edges. How do you achieve this effect?
I am a lover of detail. I seek order and I like everything to be neat and tidy. I suppose my art reflects that part of my personality. It’s difficult for me to be loose and free. I worked for a long time in acrylic paint and I produced highly detailed paintings. Watercolor is a new medium for me. I have only been using it for a few years.
To achieve a more defined look I prefer to use Hot pressed paper. It’s smoother and allows me to add lots of layers to achieve greater detail. I use a larger brush to paint the initial washes but then I switch to smaller, finer brushes to achieve the detail that I am after.
An interview with Artspan member Andrew K. Currey.
Your work seems to strike a balance between armor/shells/protection and vulnerability. Is that a fair assessment? Is that something calculated, if so, what inspires it, and to what effect?
A lot of my work from the past two years deals with the concept of armoring and self-preservation. I have always been interested in European medieval history and was especially interested in the ornate craftsmanship of different armor. This led me to considering the physiological need for protecting oneself. We all have elements of our mental, emotional, or spiritual self we feel the desire to protect. The armored knight became a perfect metaphor for discussing these acts of self-preservation. This theme of varying levels of defense was the subject of my solo show at the Bolsky Gallery in Los Angeles in 2014, titled In Defense.
Artspan member Bill Jersey is a painter and filmmaker. He paints beautiful landscapes in oil. He made the movie Eames: The Architect and The Painter, a moving, generous portrait of husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames. And in 1967, he made A Time For Burning, which was nominated for an academy award, and has since been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
A Time For Burning is probably the quietest civil rights film I’ve seen. The whole film shows people talking; quietly, earnestly, discussing issues. And yet it’s an amazingly compelling 56 minutes of film. The film was shot in Omaha, Nebraska in 1966, and as one of the characters explains, it’s about Lutherans talking to Lutherans. Seemingly such a small thing, a tiny step. But it turns out to be an insurmountable step to many. The film “explores the attempts of the minister of Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, to persuade his all-white congregation to reach out to ‘negro’ Lutherans in the city’s north side.”
Throughout history, technological advances have brought about changes in art, and these changes have engendered debate about the very nature of art. If a process becomes too easy, does it still require skill? If a machine is doing much of the work is the artist still the author of the shot? Is the purity of artistic vision destroyed in the age of mechanical reproduction?
Photos used to be precious. Taking a photograph took money, patience, special equipment. It took hours or weeks to see how the image would turn out. People used to have special ways to keep photographs, little frames and boxes they would carry their one or two precious pictures in. Now we have phones loaded with snapshots. It used to require time and patience to take a photograph. The process was half skill, half luck in capturing the perfect moment. Now it’s mostly luck, the camera (and a collection of filters) takes care of all the rest, and we can snap a billion shots a day. We have a much higher chance of capturing a randomly beautiful moment.
Exit Through the Gift Shop is a film that may or may not have been directed by elusive British street artist Bansky, and is about Thierry Guetta, who may or may not be a real person and who may or may not also be an artist named Mr. Brainwash. Is the whole film a mischievous hoax? A straight documentary? A mix of fact and fiction? I believe it is, of course, the last one, as are all films. (It’s clearly not, as Banksy claims, a re-edit of hundreds of hours of Guetta’s footage of street artists at work, because Guetta is in at least 90% of the shots.)
In September 1956, Life Magazine published a Photo Essay called The Restraints: Open and Hidden. The photographs, by Gordon Parks, show the everyday comings and goings of an extended family in rural Alabama: A woman holding her great grandchild, children playing by a giant tree, an elderly couple posing for a portrait, people outside of stores or in their homes.
These are civil rights-era photographs, and they’re like nothing I’ve ever seen. The images of this era that I’m familiar with, some of them taken by Parks himself, are black and white, and they’re full of drama and tension and import. They show great men and women doing great things. Park’s pictures for this photo essay are in color and they show ordinary people doing ordinary things. They’re glowingly beautiful, vibrantly pretty. They’re almost defiantly colorful. You can almost imagine a world in which “colored only” didn’t refer to a hateful and demeaning discriminatory practice but to the flowers on a little girl’s dress. I suppose it’s easier to understand a historical situation, to empathize with people that lived in another time and another place if we relate to them. Looking at these pictures we’re reminded of our grandparents, our parents, our children or ourselves as children.