The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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Location: Italy

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Interview with Julie Speed

q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.

a)I’m not sure what I could say that would explain anything.

q) Had you always planned on being an artist [or had you other hopes]?

a)My earliest plan was to become a caveman. When I got old enough to understand that not everything I wished for was possible then I decided to become a pirate instead. I didn’t get realistic till about age 6 or 7 when I settled for third choice, artist.

q) Do you have a preferred medium to work on? Why?

a)Anything that smells or gets my hands dirty works for me, mostly oils, gouaches, pencil and ink drawing, etchings and collage, both two and three dimensional. The oil paintings are very slow, involving layers and layers, even a small painting takes at least a month or two so switching over to something faster lets me work out compositional ideas that I want to try….plus working with tools and gluing and/or screwing it together is just flat-out fun.
So far I’ve not been attracted to anything that doesn’t involve hands-on.

q) How would you describe your style?

a)Pararealism. Alongside realism, but not quite. Abstract underneath. Figurative on the surface. I think about it like drawing the bones before the skin.

q) Do you go through any certain processes while trying to produce your work?

a)You would be bored to death if I actually answered that question in all its many moving parts but the basic idea is that it’s a learning process where I try to keep my brain out of it as much as possible. My job is to work out the technical stuff and paint as well as I possibly can, THEN simply pick out a thread and follow it. There’s a lot of chatter to cut through, both from inside and out so being able to concentrate is the main thing.

q) What are you working on at present?

a)Right now I’m on a binge of triangles, back and forth between paintings and collages that led to large graphite and gouache drawings and back to oils but all involving triangles. The collages have the triangles more out front and the paintings and drawings have them more underneath. A physicist passing through town said that I’m working on “the three body problem”. I didn’t know there was a name for it but I always figured there was math attached because you can hear a definite little “click” in your head when one line or shape resists another exactly.
The shapes have resolved into nekkid men fighting each other with pink sticks, interiors with figures and pink cakes. A cake is about the size of a human head so I start with an abstract underdrawing of circles which later become heads or cakes, (really it could be anything the right mass) held at odds by lines which later become armbones, legbones, sticks, etc. These have circled back into water paintings inspired by “The Adventures of Hamza” that I’ve worked on before and now am going back into using what I’ve learned about triangles.

q) What about recent sources of inspirations?

a)I’ve been looking at Australian Aboriginal paintings again, especially the work of Gloria Tamerre Petyarre .
The pink sticks were all inspired by the winter leafless pecan trees outside my bedroom window. One morning at dawn I opened my eyes and the gray bark had been turned blatant pink by the rising sun. It hasn’t happened again though I keep waking up to check.

q) What are some of your obsessions?

a)Time. I need lots of work time and I’m very selfish about it so I try and keep a schedule. I guess I’m obsessive about that, also detail. For many years the advice I’ve most often been given is that I should paint larger with less detail. Being perverse, that has only encouraged me to paint every hair. It makes the already satisfying even more so.

q) Which galleries have you shown at and which galleries would you like to show at?

a)I’m taking a vacation from all that right now.

q) If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?


q) Do you have any suggestions or advice for artists that are just starting out.

a)No .

q) Who are your favorite artists?

a)Bill Traylor, Lucien Freud, Kasimir Malevich, Kurt Schwitters, Piero Della Francesca, Francisco Goya, Francis Bacon, Hans Memling, Agnes Martin

q) What books are on your nightstand?

a)“The Master and Marguerita” by Mikhal Bulgakov (the Mirra Ginsburg translation)
“Getting Mother’s Body” by Suzan-Lori Park

q) To what weaknesses are you most indulgent?

a)Tequila .


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