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|Interview With Pamela Wilson
TNYO: When did you realize you were an artist and when did you start drawing and painting?
Pamela Wilson: Apparently, at the age of three or four, I drew a table and chairs in perspective, and my family decided immediately that I
was an artist. I jumped on the bandwagon and never looked back. I was always drawing, but I hated coloring in coloring books, as I couldn't
stay inside the lines like my big sister (who hogged all the unbroken crayons anyway- because she was convinced that she was the queen of
the world). I did try, however, to convince her that she needed to push on the crayon and make the color brighter. She ignored me
completely, and her pictures looked so pale to me.
I started painting in my last year of High School, with a portrait of my little brothers. Some of the other teachers liked it, and commissioned me
to do portraits of their children. My art teacher, Sally Christiansen, was extremely encouraging and instrumental in my confidence as a young
artist. We have stayed in touch all these thirty years.
TNYO: Can you tell us a little bit about your process when your painting and creating?
Pamela Wilson: The planning of paintings is an elaborate project for me, and so very enjoyable. I let my intuition be my guide as I settle into
a new world. I usually begin with some idea that comes to me through my personal experience, and my daily 'pleasure reading'. I then spend
time antique shopping, waiting for the next object(s) to 'speak' to me. I must see and smell and touch an object or piece of clothing that will
become the impetus for a painting, or series. I love antiques because I like to take things out of the modern context and marry 'odd ends'
together to render a timeless piece- more dreamlike. Old objects house talkative ghosts. And then I pick a model and a location- both as
important as the object, requiring much scouting. The photos never look in the end like they did in my head, but it’s always wonderful when it
comes together! And then I paint from my photographs, and edit as I go. I usually paint more than one painting from a shoot, as I’m never
satisfied with just one.
TNYO: How important is color and the placement of it
Pamela Wilson: Color is everything. Not only color, but value, and the keen use of each. One must marry the right value with the right color
in order to create the mood of a painting- or the “soul,” as I like to call it. The knowing of when to use a lot of color, or to mute it, is a skill
gained through practice, and the more one is proficient with it, the more expressive the piece, the more possibilities..
TNYO: How do you navigate the human form?
Do you use a grid, do you start from the head and work your way down to the toes?
Pamela Wilson: I always start with the head, the eyes. I must know WHO I am painting.
TNYO: How do you measure the correct distance between eyes
Pamela Wilson: It’s a gift. The “correct” distance between any two points is the choice of the artist. But in a portrait, for instance, one must
measure. A likeness isn’t just gained through exact distances; it’s a whole sense of the “look” of a sitter, their quirks and such. The great
artist finds those...
TNYO: working with Shapes how important are ovals and circles
Pamela Wilson: Is this an IQ test?
TNYO: You are a professor at Laguna Beach College what can someone expect to learn in your class?
Pamela Wilson: I am a Mentor in the MFA Program at Laguna College of Art & Design. I work with individual graduate students to help them
with their individual work. I help them how I can- from personal style, to technique, to work ethic, and in some cases I assign reading or
shopping trips. I am often rewarded with a glass of wine (after the meeting..). It’s a good gig.
TNYO: It must feel great to see your students advance in their careers tell me a little bit about that
Pamela Wilson: I am new to the program at LCAD, but in my short stint it has been a marvelous experience to see students grow in their
work, have epiphanies, and be enthusiastic about painting- once they make a few short leaps off the cliff. They are all fantastic! I learn a lot,
too. I often joke about who is mentoring whom..
TNYO: How many hours do you spend on each painting
Pamela Wilson: This varies, of course, but I generally spend a few weeks on a piece.
TNYO: Whats your favorite color?
Pamela Wilson: Red. No, blue!
TNYO: Do you have a favorite painter?
Pamela Wilson: Right now... I’m stuck Justin Mortimer and Jeremy Geddes. These are artists whose use of space and color and technique
just floors me. The unexpected composition and illusive narrative content of the work astounds me. I am truly in awe.
TNYO: How did you come about creating this series of beautiful ghostly paintings and what inspires the titles?
Pamela Wilson: A compelling narrative is one that draws one in, and moves one in a rich and meaningful way. I can think of nothing more
satisfying than being moved by art.
If we will have a richer experience as human beings, we must involve ourselves with unsettling truths, as well as those which soothe. I have
painted subjects in their own worlds for many years, incorporating strange and quirky imagery, and odd narratives, but with a sincere and
deep compassion. Although we may be amused by these subjects, I think that we identify with them, as perhaps our security and sanity are
threatened. As part of our human experience, we grapple with tragedy and delight, absurdity and insanity, collecting and storing pieces of
ourselves and others as we decipher meaning. We engage ourselves in the exploration of emotions, ranging from utter joy to unbearable
grief, to find a place for them, and measure their importance.
I read a lot. I love words. A title is a chance for me to be poetic about my piece, to give small clues, but still remain somewhat allusive. The
piece always tells me what the title is as I am working on it; somewhere in the process, it comes to me.
TNYO: What inspires you in general Pamela?
Pamela Wilson: Laughter in the Dark.
TNYO: How close to your heart is spirituality?
Pamela Wilson: I am a realist. I believe that energy is malleable, and I do my best to move it in the proper direction.
TNYO: Does It play a part in You art and your life?
Pamela Wilson: Of course. I generally try to surround myself with people who uplift me, who make me laugh, and whom I can trust. The rest
I can do without. My art is a different place and an escape from all that bores me. I like art that takes me on a wild ride, nothing short of that. I
want to be hurt and delighted at the same time, to explore the realms I didn’t know existed.
TNYO: Where are you from?
Pamela Wilson: I was born in Northern California, and spent my school years in Colorado, with summers in Southern California... on the
beach. I moved back to California in 1984, and have lived here since. I moved to Brooklyn for three months in 2006, when I was represented
by Claire Oliver Gallery in Chelsea, but I was too homesick, and returned to California post haste. I love my beach.
TNYO: Where is your studio located? Is it a sacred space ;-)
Pamela Wilson: My studio is at home. I wouldn’t consider it sacred, but certainly private. I think it’s nice to preserve some mystery where art
is made, so I’m a bit reclusive, and I don’t invite many into my workspace.
TNYO: Are you from a large family?
Pamela Wilson: I have ten brothers and sisters, including step-siblings. It’s a bit crazy.
TNYO: Were family members jealous of your talent im sure many people are - don’t you hate it when that happens?
Pamela Wilson: My family is wonderful. We all have our niches, and careers, and we are very supportive and proud of each other. The
only jealously has come from boyfriends who were also artists, and may have resented my relative success... But I never considered that my
problem. Jealousy is useless, and unfortunate where it exists..
TNYO: If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
Pamela Wilson: A litigation attorney. Or a monkey trainer. Seriously.
TNYO: Are you married do you have a boyfriend?
Pamela Wilson: I have never been married. I haven’t found a reason to be. I like my own room. Is that wrong?
TNYO: Can you pick a song for our readers to groove on?
Pamela Wilson: “Lemonade,” by CocoRosie, or “Chocolate Jesus,” by Tom Waits