Discover what paintings in the childhood home set this artist on her creative path
Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your art?
I grew up in a town called Fair Oaks in northern California. We lived very close to the American River, and I spent so much of my time outdoors in the fields of oaks surrounding the river. The connection I got there was the same kind of connection I get with my surroundings and my surface when I’m painting.
You’re a child, you see a painting or drawing that changes everything… what are you looking at, and what effect did it have?
My parents had an interesting collection of art throughout our house when I was growing up. The few that I remember distinctly were two very large wall-sized prints of Bruegel paintings The Peasant Dance and The Peasant Wedding, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret, William Blake’s The Ancient of Days and small prints of Klimt’s The Tree of Life paintings. I’ve no doubt that these, as a whole, left an impression on me. Each piece had different roles to play in my influence, but as a whole, inspired me to be drawn to many different things, and glean from each thing to form who I am today.
What was your next step in art? Did other interests vie for your attention?
I’ve kind of always had a good balance of things I love in my life, and art has always been at the top of that list. Art, family and good friends, music, outdoors/nature, healthy living, and the furry family members – all of those are important to me.
What was your first paid commission?
My first paid commission was in high school doing large murals for the local grocery store. Aside from being painted in traditional media, those were nothing like what I do now.
What’s the last piece that you finished, and how do the two differ?
My latest painting that I’ve finished is for a show at Krab Jab Studio called Dream Covers. The painting is my interpretation of the book Letters to a Young Poet. The two are like night and day, in many ways.
Can you describe the place where you usually create your art?
I create my art in the depths of an infinite void. No matter where I place myself physically, the art will always come from that infinite space.
Is your art evolving? What’s the most recent experiment you’ve made?
The work not only evolves from painting to painting, but from the start to finish of each individual painting. I feel like this would always be the case. At least, for me it is. As far as experimenting goes, it’s kind of how I roll most of the time, so that’s sort of always a given when I paint or I’m creating something.
What character that you’ve painted do you most identify with?
Each character that I paint is a character I can identify with. It would be tough to say that I identify with one more than another. They’re essentially a piece of me in some way, at different times, from different states of mind, possibly. They’re subconsciously revealing themselves to me, coming to me through a dialogue with the surface I’m painting on. Each has its own place and sense of purpose, neither being more important than another, really.
What’s the most important thing that you’ve taught someone?
I have no idea. Who knows what each person takes home with them and stores away as something important to them? I just do the best that I can do, stay true to who I am in all aspects of how I float through this waking life, and if that makes some kind of positive impact on someone then – hey – that’s great. Hopefully, those who do get something can pay it forward. As a teacher, I’ve found that reciprocity doesn’t necessarily present itself back to me personally as a thing, but if it can go forth out into some place I might not have reached otherwise, then that’s pretty great, too.
My characters are a piece of me, at different times, from different states of mind
Vanessa lives and works in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time with her artist husband and their furry kids. See her art at www.vanessalemenart.blogspot.co.uk.
Harvest Whisperer “I was inspired by the autumn equinox, and painted the textures with a cooking spatula.”