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Interview with Annie Denison

Here is my full interview with Annie.  Enjoy!


CB: Tell me about your art and what it means to you.

AD: “So the process of abstract art is the thing that I am drawn to and that I love about it.  It’s the physicality of it and the act of bringing a compositing into harmony with the different colors, the weight of the composition and how everything looks within it.  It is definitely an evolving process and it is something that goes through different growing pains and growing stretches as I am painting. I have never resonated much with art that feels tedious to make.  I enjoy this type of are so much because I enjoy pouring paint and the fluid abstracts, I am so into it.”


CB: What is the process of creating a painting?

AD: So much of what goes into every abstract piece is this amalgamation of everything that I have ever learned about color theory and shape development and the actual way that the medium responds to itself, how it dries, the viscosity of the paint and how much I have to water it down, all that stuff.  It's definitely very much a flow state when I am painting. Everything is automatic and gets these little adjustments until it's at a place that I recognize to be a stopping place. So much of that learning process has been to take things too far until they are a muddy mess kind of a thing. That learning curve of being able to tailor it back a little bit but also push it.  Because of that, I have always made abstract art and its not my place to go telling people what they see in a painting. It is so much more about the process and about a beautiful result than it is about trying to manipulate emotion when people see it.


CB: Do you listen to music when you paint:  

AD: “I do, mostly instrumental stuff.  It’s because its a flow state while I am painting, it is very susceptible to outside influence.  It's to the point that if I have other art in my studio, I need to cover it or face it in another direction.  Say I am working on a blue painting and I set that off to the side to dry and then I leave it there when I come back to make a new painting, the new painting will be the same color blue, and I am like ‘shit, its the same painting’.  If I don’t consciously keep some stuff out of the way, those visual influences will come into what I am doing. It was hard in school because you work in a studio with lots of other people and I needed to paint with my back to everyone else so that I wouldn't take in color and form and stuff like that because it's totally subconscious.  It's not like I am hypnotized, I have control of it, but if I zone out, outside stuff will end up in there. Music is more of a ritualistic aspect of when I am setting up my studio and get me in the right headspace. I haven’t really experimented with different types of music.


CB: Do you paint at certain times of day?

AD: No, I really paint whenever I have time.  I definitely have a need to paint. It's not sustainable for me to just make digital art.  I have to paint. Then I feel a lot more balanced and its a meditative process for me. It’s definitely something that I have to do on a regular basis or I just go crazy.  The more often, the better.


CB: How long does a painting typically take you?

AD:  Its a faster process that you think, depending on how many layers you decide to go with.  The actual pouring of the art, the fluid medium itself, goes pretty quick because if I work too much into it, it gets too muddied up. So that's maybe a 45-minute process for a good solid layer of a poured piece.  There is lots of background prep that goes into it like thinner layers and tuning up in between as it drys to bring the layers together and make the whole things a little bit more cohesive. Sometimes I don't like how something dried so I have to cover up a portion of it or change colors.  So its pretty standard for me to start out feeling pretty good with a painting and really excited about where it is going. And then I work into it and i get a little spend and then I am like ‘oh gosh, this is not going the way I wanted it to go’. There is usually a low point in the production of some piece where I am like ‘I ruined this, this is terrible, I am going to have to start the whole thing over’. Then I come back later after it has dried and I am like ‘Oh, this dried well, Ok, I feel a lot better about that’ and then I tune it up from there and then I am like, ‘this is amazing!’ Its a rollercoaster of emotions for every painting that I make.  Its a really emotional process, its the creative process in a nutshell. It's the same thing that you go through when you are developing that you care a great deal about, it's definitely something that you are invested in. It's full of its ups and downs, for sure.


CB:  I am always obsessed with peoples workflow and how people approach creativity, how they creatively problem solve and how people work through their highs and lows.

AD: It’s a huge part of the creative process, no matter what you do and is part of the work process, even if you don’t consider yourself a creative, and I would totally argue that everyone is.  Whatever it is that you do, you go through the same cycles of self-doubt and then bolstered self-esteem when something goes correctly and then having to problem solve when something is not going correctly.  No matter what it is, even if you don't think its creative, it's a similar cycle.


CB: Where you in your emotion flows with this specific painting?

AD: One of my favorite things about the way that I paint is watching the paint dry.  Is fascinating to watch the flow of the paint and to kinda influence where things are going and how things are mixing.  But there are times when I am like,’no no no, don't go that way’ and that just gravity or the tilt of the canvas or too much water in one area.  There are lots of things that can influence how it interacts. Those two photos are just snapshots of points in time for the canvas. I spend a lot of time looking at little macro compositions within a full piece because I am just obsessed with it.  The same way that you can take a photograph of a wide expansive universe and take 1/18th of it and blow it up and its still the same expanse and the way that you can fractalize that, I feel the same way about this type of poured art. They were both at points when I was very happy with how they were going and just really enjoying pouring over the details and finding all of these interesting little anomalies and documenting them and spending time looking into them deeper.  The darker one, the red and black one, is when it's more dry and it is a lot more indicative of what the final composition looks like. It dried a lot darker than I expected it to but I wasn’t displeased with the result. It’s like that. It's definitely a conversation with the piece itself. Sometimes I know I just need to leave it alone and come back to it.


CB: What drew you to these specific colors for this canvas?

AD: When I am building a composition, I try to cultivate areas that have good contrast and will be good eye-catching elements of the composition so that they can direct the viewer's eye around and there will be some action and play in the piece but then you don’t want it to be too busy at the same time and then you need areas that your eye can rest and be calm so that its interesting to look at but not overwhelming.  It's a huge balance because ultimately I am not in too much control of what happens and I don't overwork or use brush strokes or anything. Sometimes it works, most of the time it works. But everytime I learn something new.


CB: How did you select your colors for this painting?

AD: Usually I have a palate in mind that I want to go with. I knew I wanted to create a little bit of fall theme for this one, but I knew I wanted another very different option which is how we ended up with two very different pieces for this collection.  It’s all pretty subjective based on how I am feeling.