So hello! Can you tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you based right now?
I picked up my BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax, Canada – which was dreamy. There were some years of travelling in between, then my MFA from the University of Waterloo (just west of Toronto).
I’m now based in Toronto and have worked there since about 2009.
I’m drawn to your palette and the way you apply the paint to the surfaces, which contrasts by being both flat and highly textured. What do you enjoy most about working in oil?
I hope to be a story teller – each work is an individual experience that says something; explains something; or is simply a place that can offer refuge while remaining fractured, deconstructed, and ultimately insecure and impermanent. Oil is lovely to work with, but I’ve found it to be too seductive in some painting I see. Seduction and fetish can exist in paint sparingly, so I attempt to move material with that in mind. It’s paint on a painting – sure – but it’s much more about fiction, experiential environments, and how space is developed within a work. In terms of colour, I never work from the tube: all colour is considered and mixed for each mark and each blend. There are certain greys or aquas or peaches that simply work because they mixed and not generic. Any painter can spot a yellow ochre by Winsor and Newton. Old Holland or Williamsburg are great mixers.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have any particularly strong influences?
First – the word ‘inspiration’ needs to die. I think, then make. Perhaps there’s inspiration in that, but it doesn’t take seeing or reading something for me to start painting. Seeing a beauty landscape doesn’t make me want to turn that into painting. It’s just a beauty landscape. I leave it in that form.
That said: I really like writing, film, animation. South American and Japanese magic realism. Most of my influences aren’t painters (although I love some painters), but they don’t always inform how I operate in my studio. I dig into my fictional brain to develop spaces and environments. Sometimes they are escapes or places I wish to exist in.
Can you describe your studio? How much time do you typically spend there? Any routines or rituals?
I am fortunate to have a live/work studio in Toronto. It’s about 1200 sq. ft. of which I paint in about 400. I’m there most of the time (though I teach painting at OCAD University for 6 hours a week). Basically, wake up, take the dog out, make coffee, throw on some music, respond to emails, then get to work.
You’ve had several solo shows as well as many group exhibitions at this point; is there anything you’ve learned along the way, particularly about preparing for a solo exhibition, that you would share with someone approaching that for the firs time?
The relationship with my art dealer is Toronto is very dear. She isn’t pressing, never suggests certain things like colour or size, always trusts me and my work. We work together strongly on a path neither of us can define or explain. This trust is crucial to my development in the studio as it allows me to think freely without the pressures of someone who needs or wants to make money from a sale. Granted, sales are fantastic. But there is far more integrity and satisfaction knowing your work is truly yours, and not a carbon-copy or reiteration of something that can sell fast or frequent. That said, when preparing for an exhibition, works should be consistent. Make far more works than are necessary even if a quarter of the works will stay back in your studio because they didn’t quite hit the mark.
Is there anything you’ve found or currently find particularly challenging or daunting about being an artist? How have you dealt with that?
Aside from making sure I’m well fed, that I have nice wheels, and a comfortable bed – there’s not much to complain about. My main problem on a continuous basis is inside the studio – personal growth and development on imagery. I’ve never wanted to make work that is too repetitive or easy.
What do you find to be the most rewarding or exciting aspect of doing what you do?
Completing a work that knocks me out. It’s not egotistical to enjoy what you do (it’s a bit self-serving sometimes, but isn’t all art made by artists?), so I think you need to really appreciate what you do – especially if it’s a unique voice – and that will push you forward. Be confident that you’re doing something right.
If you could own one piece of artwork by anyone, anywhere, made at any time (even if it doesn’t exist anymore) what would it be?
Shit, it’s like choosing a favourite of something – and that’s really tough. Here’s 3: Francis Bacon’s Triptych (1962) at the Guggenheim in NY, Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World at MoMA (1948), and Caspar David Friedrich’s The Abbey In The Oakwood (1910) or The Sea of Ice (1923). I could give you 3 or a hundred more paintings made in the last few years that have struck a chord too.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
I have a group show up right now at Field Projects in NY (until mid-December); a group show of painting opening in the spring in Montreal; and have two solo shows opening in late summer and fall of 2017 at General Hardware Contemporary in Toronto, and the other at Viviane Art in Calgary.
Find more at scotteveringham.com!
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