GPL: You draw on many influences. What are your top five most influential visuals?
ALS: The most important thing for creativity to flourish is to be open to inspiration from unexpected sources not just painting. I’ve had the privilege to try my hand in various creative fields—decorative arts, furniture design, interior design, and fine arts. I am also very interested in archeology and philosophy. The key for me is to sift through this rich visual history and to initiate dialogue between these disparate sources. For instance I try to imagine what would happen if a Renaissance artist like Piero Dela Francesca would interact with an artist like Matisse or Picasso. What would they say? How do their visions complement or fight each other? These hypothetical dialogues open up new avenues of artistic exploration that inform my work.
GPL: You seem to have an affinity for bunnies can you expound on that?
ALS: Its true I have a love for these perfect little creatures. I have two rabbits at home. One of the things I’ve discovered about rabbits is that they are much more curious and intelligent than most people give them credit for. So I imagine that while they are being ignored, they are secretly and silently observing all that goes on seen and unseen in this world. In the paintings they represent a sort of witness to that which normally lies hidden.
GPL: What do you watch/listen to while working?
ALS: I know I’m supposed to say I listen to something civilized like Mozart or Beethoven but the truth is I like House and Techno music. When I enter the studio I want to feel pumped like I am going in to do battle. I have a take no prisoners approach to painting.
GPL: Can you tell us about your process?
ALS: I have an enormous collection of photographs of things I’ve seen out and about. My eye is always exploring and documenting my surroundings. I find that the more I look, certain patterns emerge. I may be drawn to the same shape over and over that recurs in different contexts. This unconscious pull will eventually become more insistent until I sit down with a blank paper and begin to give life to a certain shape or persistent feeling. The final painting is really the result of probing these mysterious recurrences. Sometimes only after I give life to a certain image does its meaning become clearer to me. I believe that sense of unfolding discovery is evident in the paintings. I want the viewers to enter into a zone where things are simultaneously clear and opaque. A space where the painting and viewer begin to engage in their own emotional dialogue.
GPL: What work of yours are you most proud of?
ALS: The work I am most proud of is “What Lies Beneath 1”. In this painting we get a glimpse into a whole world that exists through the rabbit hole. This was the first painting where I really let go of technique and reason and just painted from my gut emotions. It was a revelation to me at the time that there were entire worlds I had access to just waiting to be born. All I had to do was let them speak through me without judgment. The work that has followed flowed from this insight.
GPL: Any advice for those who are just starting out?
ALS: Do not rush. There is no race and no experience good or bad is ever a waste. Do not compare yourself to others. Each artist has a unique piece of this puzzle we call life and consciousness. Focus in on what naturally sparks your interest rather than accept a certain style or vision presented to you. After studying art in school I didn’t have the means to make art and sustain a living. I subsequently spent ten years working in interior design and decorative arts in order to achieve a level of stability and confidence. The exposure and experience in these fields in turn sharpened my eyes. Working for myself also helped me to build my character and work ethic. Over time one must learn how to take risks and fail gracefully. Make sure to honor the needs of your body, emotions, and spirit. In this way you will find the necessary stillness to allow your creative voice to be heard.
Check out his work here.
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