"Now or Never": In an interview with RAW, artist Regina Wyatt tells us that she paints in order to stay out of the loony bin. She talks to us a little bit about her work and dedication to art, minus all the art-speak. See her paintings on display at the next RAW Showcase in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 13th.
How did you first get started?
Just a po’ Black woman from the ghettos of Detroit … no, that’s a lie. I come from an upper-middle class family in Detroit. I was the only right brained one in the bunch. I got a B.S. in Architecture in the mid-eighties and quit the field in the mid-nineties when it just was not fun anymore. I've always been artistic, but I never took it seriously. I was too busy trying to be normal. Ever since the nineties, I’ve been stumbling from mediocre job to mediocre job, letting life get in the way. Only recently did I finally decide what I want to be, an artist. That’s why I came to Los Angeles; it’s now or never.
From where do you draw your inspiration for your work?
My life and how I interpret it. After I moved from Detroit I went to live in Redding, CA. Beautiful place, but I’m a city girl and need an urban setting. I thrive in the city. That’s where I get my inspiration, the people, the places and the energy of the city.
Do you engage in, or draw inspiration from any other forms of art?
Music; I need music to work. It takes me to another place and allows me to translate the energy of the music into my work.
From start to finish, explain your process; what does a typical art-making day look like for you?
It’s an all-day affair; I turn on the music and my easel and paints are always up (I’ve turned the bedroom into a studio, I sleep on a futon in the front room. Painting is more important). I staple gun a piece of canvas to a board and place it on my easel. I used to staple gun the canvas directly to the wall, but it’s not my house, so I’ve had to make concessions. Then, I start to paint, sometimes from an image in my mind, sometimes just shapes until I discover an image on the canvas. I start by using only one color until a shape or idea emerges then two to three colors to define shapes and depth. The image is usually pretty well defined before I add more colors. The edges of the painting are defined by the image not by the edge of a predetermined square. When I’m finished, I cut the image out of the canvas and use a variety of different framing techniques I’ve developed in order to mount and hang the image. I paint in spurts, 20 minutes to a few hours at a time. I have to walk away from the canvas and think about what I’m doing. It takes me days sometimes weeks to finish a piece depending on its size and complexity.
What sort of techniques do you most like working with?
I’m self taught, though I did take three art/drawing classes in college. As far as technique is concerned, I pretty much make it up as I go. I’m messy, so anything that allows me to be covered in paint by the end of the day makes me happy. I’m a very tactile person; I love the feel of paint on my hands.
Are there any artists or art movements that strongly influence your work?
Okay, you got me. I’m not very learned when it comes to art movements and such; I’m not good at artspeak. I’m totally self-centered; I paint because I have to, I paint from what’s in my head. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it keeps me out of the loony bin.
Are there any specific reoccurring themes or subjects that you explore and deal with most in your work?
Cities, urban situations and inner thoughts ... I like to think of my work as little stories on canvas. I have conversations with myself as I paint, and to me it’s not enough to paint without a dialogue to go with it. If, however you read a different story into my paintings, that’s fine, just as long as you get something out of it other than the fact that you like my color pallette.
Any previous exhibition that you are particularly proud of?
A show up in Redding, last Valentines Day called “Conditions of the Heart." It was a group show. Not a very large show but the thing that made me proud was the fact that I made a woman cry. The painting struck her so profoundly that she cried real tears. I guess I’m on the right track.
Any current rising stars within the genre that you would recommend we look out for?
Sean J. Randall, he’s out of Redding, California and works mostly with acrylics. He’s fantastic and deserves recognition. He has a website:
Learn more about Regina Wyatt on her site: http://www.reginawyatt.com/