Deborah Bakos - Featured Artist for January 2010

Each month we spotlight a different artist and artwork. These in-depth interviews with the artist provide an insight into the making of art and the artists relationship with their creation.

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

My preference is for painting. Colour is usually my first consideration in art making and painting allows me the opportunity to use it as my primary means of communication.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection?

I will always pay homage to Vermeer for his mastery of colour and composition, to Lucian Freud for his ability to make me feel uncomfortable, and to Piet Mondrian for his search for equilibrium as he moved from representational to abstract painting. And, because of the interaction between abstract marks and figurative subjects in his knife paintings, Ontario Artist Chris Langstroth is my current obsession.

Which particular processes or techniques of art-making interest you now?

Right now I am hovering between concrete and abstract forms. I am working exclusively with palette knives and complementary acrylic colours to produce simple, thickly layered geometric shapes. The entire process is driven by the notion that there is futility in attraction.

What particular technical challenges in art-making do you face at this time?

Waiting for an image to emerge before I cover it up with another layer is my foremost challenge. Frequent bouts of panic emerge because my need for structure can propel me to work quickly without stepping back. Also, palette knives are more limiting than brushes and more ruthless. But, for now, I am thriving on the potential for hidden meaning in my abstract work.

What in your artistic training do you value most in your work at this time?

The opportunity to work with international artists changed my way of seeing what matters.  Colour theory and Brush Stroke Bootcamp with Lisa Birke at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design launched me in a new direction. I appreciate the lift.

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?

Because I have recently chosen a new direction, new tools and inspiration, I have few preconceived ideas about the outcome of my work right now. The elements of surprise and unpredictability are welcome changes from the more deliberate approach I use in my representational work. Though I embrace accident in my painting process, I maintain control in the preparation. My color palette is limited to compliments or tetrads and my ideas are fairly developed before paint meets canvas or board.

What are some of your artistic challenges at present ?

Since I have ventured into the abstract realm, my greatest challenge is fighting the desire to go back to my comfort zones. I still have the need to ground myself in realism in order to legitimize my contemporary practice, so I know I will always swing happily back to figuration in some capacity.

What are some of your artistic accomplishments at present?

I got my professional start as an artist in Istanbul, Turkey just 2 years ago. I painted and exhibited with local and international artists who were interested in celebrating our similarities and differences. I sold 9 paintings (several to international collectors) my first year and donated many of the proceeds to local charities in support of art education for underprivileged children. In 2009, Artists in our Midst and Laura K. Jewitt Gallery provided me my first opportunities to exhibit locally. As an artist and educator,  I am happy to continue this year to promote art in our community through residencies, studio lessons, charitable Art donations and exhibitions

Can you share 3 things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

Art cannot be separated from life; outcome should be a consideration not a focus; and my paintings are my stories.

When you need inspiration, how do you get it?

I go gallery hopping. I look at the ever changing sky (thank you Lisa) and I read everything I can from newspapers to poetry. I am a voyeur . . . so even a cereal box can provide insight and inspiration.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it?

I paint. I take classes, talk to other artists, walk, sample images and, all the while, I try to mix in my head colours that appeal to me in my immediate environment.

What is exciting on your artistic horizon?

Though ripe in age, I am an emerging artist, so everything is exciting for me.

What is it about this artwork (self-selected work shown) that led you to choose it for this feature?

This is my latest work. It’s titled Juliet’s Window from my Futile Attraction series. I am not even sure if it is finished, but I do know that it is represents a radical departure from much of the work I have exhibited and sold in the past and therefore is a definite risk for me. Risk is good.

Thank you.