Los Angeles Artist Pushed to Expand Her Boundaries
Written by Cathy Breslaw
July 1, 2020
Most artists work in relative isolation. Our collective art practices and the creative process demands it. It goes against the human urge to congregate and socialize. Still, we persevere as the ‘call to create’ nudges us. We then deliberately make space – intellectually, emotionally and physically for the act of creation. We move forward quietly, with intention and faith in the process. Never have artists been more aware of isolation than time now spent alone in this Corona Virus pandemic environment. It is not our choice, but as artists we are familiar and in some ways ahead of the game in our familiarity and relative comfort with loneliness of self -containment. This “Working In Isolation” series aims to highlight how artists are adapting and how their work has evolved as a result of the pandemic. Read more articles in this series HERE.
Los Angeles artist Jennifer Miller shares her thoughts about making art during the pandemic.
Before the pandemic:
During the pandemic:
1) How has your work shifted during the pandemic? Has it been a change in the process of you creating art? The mediums you use? The themes or concepts you are thinking about?
I have become incredibly productive. Being stuck at home I find myself painting all day, every day. It is a rare day that goes by that I’m not working in my tiny studio upstairs in my house. Without access to going out for inspiration or new paints or mediums, I started working with what I had at home. I came up with a technique that I have not seen anyone else in the world do. Maybe I’m just not able to find other examples of this type of work but I’ve looked hard and haven’t seen anything like it. I think I was just forced into being more creative by the lack of any creativity available outside the house. In addition to this new technique I also found myself doing abstracts which I’ve never done in my life. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe the forced isolation just pushed me to expand my boundaries.
2) What have you discovered about yourself as an artist during this pandemic? I’ve discovered that I have so many ideas that I don’t know what to do with them. I will start five paintings at a time and they will be in various stages of completion. I write down ideas of paintings I want to do but then I end up starting something that’s not even on my list. So I’ve learned that even if I have a dry spell, which sometimes can happen, that the creative ideas are always somewhere inside me. I’ve also learned even more than previously that I don’t like to waste anything. I have frequently worked previously with paint skins but now I’m finding bits and pieces around the studio and I’m using those as well.
3) What have been your biggest challenges working in isolation? Surprises?
My biggest challenge is not being able to get my work in front of people. Because what I do is very three-dimensional and textural it doesn’t photograph as well as if you were to see it in person. There are no art shows to go to, I can’t visit galleries and talk to gallery owners, things like that. Also I have run out of canvases and I’ve had to use old paintings that I no longer like and I paint over them. I know I could order online but when I buy canvases I kind of like to go to the store and look at them in person and visualize what I want to do with them. It’s hard for me to buy them online.