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03.03
2016

The Girl Can Smile

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A girl who can smile, draw, dream and feel at the same time is nothing less than a passionate child forever trapped in an adult body, depicting her delightful upbringing in the vibrantly colored countryside. Her thoughts are equally genuine as her paintings.

Where are you based out of and what does your studio space look like at the moment?
I'm from Europe, and at the moment my studio consists of a dusty corner with broken pencils, half eaten chocolate cookies, and my fiance's skin when Ι run out of paper! Not having a studio is actually quite nice, you are forced to be more impulsive and creative, which fits me cause I get a lot of my ideas and inspiration not even being at home. At the moment I use my computer a lot to paint, and I create a lot of mixed media artworks, where I combine my traditional artwork with digital paintings.

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Can you give us some insight into your formative years?
I've been doing art all my life, I grew up in a tiny village at the countryside, next to the ocean. My first paintings were made laying on the back of our horses, looking up at the sky and having no fear of falling down. I had a little crayon set I would take with me in my disney backpack, I would paint animals and people I encountered. At first I tried to use them as live references but soon realized that humans just like animals tend to stray. We don't always stay very long in one place, and especially not in one position! I also realized that I didn't enjoy the static feel of having someone pose for my art, it didn't feel real. I had my neighbor pose for me once when we were about 7, she would strike a really silly made up princess pose and just stand like that with the big goofy smile. I stood there with my crayons in my hand and finally just said "um....do you want to go have some cereal with me instead?" So we did, and later on that night I felt full of inspiration. I got a lot more inspiration from our afternoon cereal breakfast than the staged posing. I liked to capture the moments that were realistic. They were sometimes short, even too short to paint but they were genuine. So I started relying more on memory and feeling when painting, I soaked up the life around me and then when alone I painted.

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Did you have a creative upbringing?
Oh yes extremely! Maybe not in the most typical way, cause none of my parents were painters or artists. But the creativity in me was nurtured and encouraged in a way that allowed me to grow without being influenced. My parents taught me so much about life, and therfor about art as well, without even knowing it. They let me be myself, a happy adventurous child that also had to be really strong. I got to experience the most beautiful parts of the world right at my home, I grew up with the ocean and the baby cows as my friends, I had the most beautiful canvas in the world...I had an amazing family, who even though we were so challenged and so tested by life, we saw the beauty in it.

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Did you ever have any formal training?
No, I haven't gone to art school or taken any courses. I think that can be an amazing thing for a lot of people, but I don't think its the right thing for me. I am not interested in art rules, I actually think rules should be banned from all art forms. With that said, I do think art schools are amazing, it gives people a chance to be influenced, inspired and grow. But for some people it might not benefit their personal work and I believe I might be one of those people.

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Has any other people’s work influenced or affected your own practice? Any specific names and reasons why?
That's a very tough question that I am not sure if there's an answer to it. Growing up I loved art, and I soaked it in. I like to think we are all inspired by every little thing we are exposed to in life. So yes, I absolutely think I've been inspired, by life, by people around me, experiences and even other artists. I loved to go to the museum when I was little and look at the art. I have to say that the old paintings was what inspired me first. Especially impressionism. I loved the bold strong yet romantic and frail brush strokes, the expression and freedom. It was like far away dreams put in everyday settings, when I was looking at them I couldn't stop. I could spend hours just being so amazed by the brush strokes and mood of the art that I didn't realize what the art was actually portraying until later.

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How would you describe your creative process?
It usually tends to happen in either two ways, either I have a definite strong idea, not always a whole picture in my head, it can be a mood, a feeling, that takes shape with time. Then I am very driven and really want to get it down on paper, almost worried the idea will leave me before I can do it justice. The second way is that I feel inspired, emotional and decide to paint....then something gets built up in front of me, and I let it happen. In that process I paint more with feeling than paint brush, cause I dont know where im headed, it's an adventure. I take step by step and don't realize where the end destination is, until I am there.

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What is your preferred medium?
This question actually gets me happy and bubbly, cause I just want to write "everything!" I paint with watercolor, kisses, emotions, crayons, life experiences, shells from the beach. A medium is so so much more than a type of paint, and I don't like to limit myself. I have painted with all mediums and its hard for me to pick a favorite, they all have their very own expressions. Since I have a very hard time making my mind up ( ben and jerry's peanut butter cups cookie swirl or ben and jerry's peanut butter cups cookie CORE? oh its so tough!) I started mixing the mediums. So now I do that more often than not, when I paint traditionally I mix my paints and my colors, and most often than not lately I mix it with digital paint as well.

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Are you drawn to any particular colors?
Oh I love colors....something people often tell me is that my art confuse them emotionally cause I can paint a quite raw painting but the colors are happy..strong...and bubbly. I do tend to use strong colors, but also love to mute them as well, it really does depend. But I think I've been influenced by strong brave colors from my childhood, everything around me was so bright...the grass was so green, the ocean so blue...even in my time of distress and tears, the colors never changed.

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Storytelling is a great way to document and pass down history for generations to come. Why do you feel it is important for these stories to be heard and shared?
Storytelling is essential for life, where would we be today if we never learned from the past? It's not just about letting the past inspire us, but learn not to repeat mistakes from past generations. We come a long way and while it is important to talk about a time we do not want to relive, it's just as important to bring out, cherish and treasure what was lovely and magical and maybe can't be found in the same shape and form in today's world. Storytelling can mean so much, it can be a history book, a parent sharing their childhood dreams with their child before bed, but it can also mean fairytales...worlds explored and told about. For children growing up storytelling is amazingly important, children have to be allowed to dream, to wonder about the world, to let it amaze them but also scare them. Being fearless isn't realistic, neither is seeing just one side of the world. It spins around for a reason...we can't shield the eyes of our children thinking we are protecting them. We have to teach them to live in the world we actually live in, while at the same time letting them dream of the world they WANT to live in. That's how brave hearts are shaped, the children that get to dream, and explore, they often don't want those things to stay dreams. They want to change the world, they want to leave a trail of good. A path of oppurtunity. I know some people don't like fairytales or even children books because they aren't realistic. But who says they aren't? Who are we to tell the smallest people with the biggest hearts and most open minds that things cannot be magical? That things cannot change?

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What do you love, and what do you find most challenging about being a practicing artist?
Painting comes easy to the people that love what they do, but it's not just that artists love what they do, they crave it, it's not just a "job" it's a part of them. It's a way to speak, a way to shape a voice. Many things that can't necessarily be said in words, can be painted. I love being an artist cause it's one of the things in life that truly makes me feel the happiest...the most complete, the most human. I wish that every artist in the world could make a living doing what they love. It's challenging cause it's one of the hardest markets out there, yet it's also one of those professions you are born into, that never gets to be just a job but a passion. So for most people, they actually have to put the passion to the side in order to survive. That's something I wish was different.

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Do you have any ideas about what you’d like to achieve with your work and what direction you’d like it to evolve in moving forward into the near future?
I challenge myself every time I put one of my artworks out for the public to see. It sounds silly, but I am an extremely private and emotional person and when I paint I put so much intimacy into it. Even though the painting might not be about me and my life, I feel like I have a responsibility for it. Like the characters I create depend on me. At first I felt like I was exposing them but now I see it very differently. Even though I am extremely shy and socially akward, I enjoy being able to share something with the world. It's not giving it away...it's sharing. Something that I spent my entire life beliving in. I do hope that with time I get a bit more confident and open, as far as my art goes, I hope I always stay true to my own vision and if it's appreciated by others that's lovely, if it isn't that is ok as well. It's kind of like how you don't care if other people like you or not if you are true to yourself, and like who you are. I like the fact that I am true to my vision and paint cause I love it, but I also understand that not everyone is gonna love what I do, just like not everyone is gonna love the person I am. That's normal and that's ok.

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Your artwork is heavily centered around children. Why do you find yourself gravitating towards them for inspiration?
We've all been children. There's nothing more genuine and inspiring than the expression of a child. They live in the same world as us...but they see it differently. It's not as spoiled to them. Sadly when people grow up, they seem to forget what they once saw...what they once knew. They get jaded, broken, suspicious. They forget how pure emotions were felt when they were little. How joy was belly laughing in a field with your first crush eating "borrowed" cookies from grandmas cookie jar. How sadness felt like it would break your soul apart, it was real, heartbreaking, but then you felt the wind on your cheek and it reminds you how much you love dancing in the rain and sleeping on your dad's stomach and you can't help but giggle through the tears. It is so important to not get lost in every day life, outgrown sneakers and broken hearts. I also am not quite sure that what I am painting is always children. I am not even quite sure if they are human. Or maybe just the most human of all.

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Do you have the need to explain your work to people so they can understand it?
I used to. I would be a little girl and paint very complex paintings and feel the need to explain it. Now I don't have that need anymore. At times I do hope that the viewer sees what I see, but at the same time art is like life, so personal, so individual. Nobody can see exactly what the other one sees, our vision is impacted by our personality, our life experiences, our emotional state, our imagination...I want the people who look at my art to feel whatever they want to feel.

How important to you is for the viewers to understand your art?
I don't believe art can be understood in that way, since it is so personal. I think it can be viewed and felt in many different ways. I think art talks, loudly. But im not quite sure it is saying the same things to everyone looking at it.

article's image (The Girl Can Smile)

Can you summarize your work for us in one sentence?
I don't think it is for everyone, but I do believe it is genuine and that's how it will remain.

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Interview: Anna Prigipaki

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