Hello Art Lover!
I have been so busy with Cool Art House that I have not taken a moment to introduce you to this incredible artist and warm and exquisite woman, S.P. ! Her work is stunning yet behind the work is a truly lovely person who a true creative and started up-cycling before it was a term....
Enjoy learning more about this great talent and her grandfather Archie, the diamond cutter!
S. P.: Grandfather
Too young to know my grandfather Archie Picking as a diamond cutter, I imagine him working. The still life subject matter of cut gemstones fascinates me as I explore methods to imitate their mesmerizing light. Having painted gems for years, I now realize my indebtedness to Archie.
As Archie’s eyesight began to falter, he became a Pacific Electric Red Cars conductor, a green company I seek to emulate by practicing Ecocentric art. Just as Archie segued into a career using sustainable energy, I up-cycle refuse to become a desirable product.
“A rough diamond that has not been cut, is called a mineral, and appears as a tear drop, not emitting refracted light,” said Archie. “Not until I cut the stone do you see it’s bright light. In London, Marcel Tolkowsky engineered the round brilliant-cut in 1918. I follow this design of fifty eight facets to project the most dazzling light, which is brilliance. The prism rainbow colors are fire and the surface shine is luster,” he said after he had retired.
My paintings blend exquisite 20th century gemstone cuts with 21st century cutting-edge materials. By adopting iridescent, luminescent, phosphorescent, florescent and Interference paint, the repurposed and vintage surfaces are brought up-to-date. All fabric surfaces are gessoed three times to prepare the porous material to perform like primed canvas to support paint. Thank you grandad for the inspiration and I wish I could share with you my work today!
S. P.'s interview with Nicholas Laskin of ArtCenter:
ArtCenter alumni S. P. now channels her passion for sustainability through the art of painting jewels and gemstones on reclaimed and repurposed materials. Read more about her creative journey.
Tell us about your career path after graduating from ArtCenter.? What do you do now?
When I graduated from ArtCenter, L.A. was not a cultural mecca in the way that it is today. It was also a somewhat chauvinistic scene, particularly in the 1980’s. Being a woman with artistic aspirations, I had to work harder than just about everybody else in the room. I knew it was going to be difficult – I just didn’t quite know how difficult it was going to be.
I wanted to be taken seriously. I had a really, really good portfolio at my disposal – why shouldn’t someone hire me? When I moved to New York post-grad, I found the primary thing I was looking for: work. I subletted a ground-level studio apartment where the rent was reasonable. At the time, I was just exploring the city and taking it all in – I still didn’t have any concept of what I was going to paint.
I knew I wanted to work with people – the idea of a solitary creative life never made sense to me. I craved assignments and thrived off of deadlines. And so I began doing odd trompe l’oeil, illustration and design gigs: a little here, a little there.
In hindsight, this exploratory phase was really good for me. It gave me a sense of who I wanted to become. I was hanging out in the new, gentrified part of SoHo: mixing it up, living in the moment, and trying to meet the right people. I would hang out at Studio 54, the Mud Club, and many other famous New York haunts. Julian Schnabel was selling plate paintings at Mary Boone Gallery for around $3000. When I look back on it, these were some of the greatest and most creatively crucial years of my life.
The ‘90’s was when I moved back to L.A. I started doing freelance design work. I married a musical composer, who remains my partner to this day. Together, we bought a beautiful mid-century modern place that we still live in to this day. That house became another kind of project. The two of us would scour Craigslist or go to estate sales, looking for the perfect items with which we could decorate our new home. We found appropriate and historically correct pieces.
It was this mission that started me on my path to being eco-centric, in addition to placing an emphasis on recycling, and using reusable materials as the basis for my art. When I had a daughter in elementary school, I would collect all of her friend’s clothes and tie-dye them. Then, I would offer to sell them back to the school if they were doing a fundraiser benefit.
All of this got me to thinking: What drives me? What is my reason for being here? Am I getting closer to uncovering a kind of primal artistic truth? I guess throughout all of this, I’ve found my focus. It’s something that I’m both passionate about and skilled at, that also happens to be something that helps the planet on a larger scale.
That was where the idea came from to paint gemstones on recycled materials came from– it was the product of thirty-five years of trying to find myself.
Is there one ArtCenter alum who is doing work that you particularly admire?
I’m a fan of Jorge Pardo (BFA 88). His work has a real sense of humor, and a color and vibrancy that I admire. Is it Furniture? Design? Architecture? Art?
Jennifer Steinkamp (MFA 91) is another one. Her work with jewelry partially inspired the environmentally-influenced work I went on to do (painting gemstones on repurposed materials).
"For artists are sensory siblings, a fraternity of magicians who share the same three desires: to create, to share, and to sustain themselves and their work."