Skye Lucking agreed to do an interview. But she wanted to interview me as well.
Give it a Try
Full Time Sunshine
Cowboy on a diet
My interview with Skye Lucking
1. How has your family’s skydiving business influence your art? I’ve never skydived. What is the experience? Especially from a young age? You say your art is the experience of viewing below. What types of things do you see from looking from above?
· I joke I was 'raised by a wild pack of skydivers' but that isn't too far from the truth. The sport attracts people of very different minds - from wandering hippies, to college students, to members of the military. You can only fit so many people into a plane at once - so there was a lot of sitting around, talking, and playing games like Trivial Pursuit. This mix of people in my early life (plus playing with new kids every weekend) opened up my mind in what might have been a cloistered existence in rural Oklahoma.
· In terms of my visual vocabulary – the bright color palettes of the parachutes both inflated and floating softly down against the blue sky or bunched up in various forms of packing on the floor did much to foster my love of the bright and whimsical colors that they usually came in. Rarely will you see a mono-tone or muted parachute! Also, jumping out of the planes myself (strapped to the chest of my father on tandem jumps) allowed me to see the expansive Oklahoma farmscape – with its various colors of crops and shiny ponds – influences the combination of the geometric with the botanical.
2. You studied under Miguel Angel Giovanetti. How does it feel being an art pupil? How has his artwork influenced your own?
o When we moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina – we knew we’d be there only a short and wondrous time. I looked for opportunities to expand my art portfolio and skill as soon as we arrived. I looked for calls for artists in the city and this search lead me to my very first show for Radio Palermo – a beautiful building in Palermo, Buenos Aires – a very hip neighborhood. The art program there was run by Miguel’s wife – and this lead me to the opportunity to study with him along with several other artists. It was Miguel who told me I needed move from ink on paper to pain on canvas. This was a transformation shift and I’m so glad he pushed me in that direction.
o Miguel hated some of the elements of the work I’d created. He said it needed space and there should be no checkerboards or ‘black holes’. It was hard to take the criticism, honestly, but I knew that I was there to learn. So, I was glad to listen to him and change my style based on his instruction. That isn’t to say that I’ve adhered to his advice since then – but it was a great exercise at the time!
3. How has your art evolved throughout the years? Were you always an artist? When did you start taking art seriously?
o One of the most attractive aspects of being an artist is the evolution of your style and skill set. Before moving to Buenos Aires, I was exclusively creating in sketchbooks. Now I’ve stacks of canvas I’m ready to work on. As simple as it sounds – the discovery of a simple compass, straight-edge, and embroidery rings were a total game changer. I was always frustrated by the oddly shaped circle or inexact box. Suddenly I could make cleaner designs and perfect circles and this gave me a freedom and confidence. It was one of those ‘why didn’t I think of this earlier’ kind of moments!
4. How long have you been showing your artwork in Arizona? What was your first show here? What has been your most successful show? I noticed we both showed at the Central Library. How do you feel about the general public viewing your artwork?
o I’ve just been in Arizona for a short time, about 5 years I think. I had most sales from exhibiting at Pita Jungle. However, the curator stopped texting me to show after I declined his request to play “Words with Friends” which I thought kind of ridiculous. I’d say the show I was most proud of was for Burton Barr library because it was my first (and only so far) solo show. They do such a wonderful job in hanging the work and the space is so beautiful.
5. What are your favorite places to show your art in the valley?
· At the moment almost all of my art is hanging at F.A.B.R.I.C - FASHION AND BUSINESS RESOURCE INNOVATION CENTER in Tempe. The women who have created this new fashion incubator in Arizona are truly inspiration and amazing. They helped me with the creation of my first custom bow tie and now my work is hanging all over their building. Every time I see a snapshot of a class or the lobby and my work is hanging there, I’m so proud and happy!
6. What impression do you want the viewer to have from your artwork? What do you want others to remember from your work?
o I’m a very happy person. I’ve gotten so lucky in life that it kind of boggles my mind sometimes (and makes me look over my shoulder). I want people to see that happiness in my work. However, I’d want them to also take a piece of that happiness with them after having viewed it. I’d like my artwork to brighten peoples day – literally and figuratively.
7. What social causes do you advocate? What do you have passionate opinions about?
o I was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2004-2006 and have never really stopped looking for places to make a positive change. Currently, I’m the president of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Phoenix and we’re working toward education reform in Arizona, which is sorely needed. Also, after several years of being a vegetarian – I’ve done my best to be a vegan as a way to lessen the suffering of animals and degradation of the environment and my own health.
Also - I've been trying to create more politically inspired artwork in my own style. I recently did a series of 'Notable Women' for the 'Nasty Women - Phoenix Unite' show.
8. Your art is full of vibrant and lively color. Also. your art is very joyous. Do you have favorite colors? Why do you pick this color scheme? Sometimes you combine black and white and also color? Why do you do this?
o I’m always drawn to the rainbow spectrum. As a child and even now I just get giddy at the site of a rainbow. It’s so random and so beautiful and always a gift. I’m trying to work in other palettes now just to add variety to my portfolio, but I’m drawn to ROYGBIV all the time. Aside from that, I really enjoy the shimmer of metallic paints.
9. What art genres categorize your work?
o I call my work geometric abstract. However, I think modern, contemporary, mid-century, and pop could be applied to certain pieces I’ve worked on.
10. What is your artistic process? How do you start a piece and how do you finish it? What is your studio practice? What is your studio like? How often do you do art in a week?
o I’m hoping to start a piece right after I finish these questions – so it’s a perfect question for the time. I usually start by getting all of my tools ready: embroidery rings (for large circles), stencils, straight edge, and Faber-Castell markets. Then I draw an outline on the canvas (be it big or small) and once I finish the outline, I start to paint it. I’ll give myself bonus points if I can set up my Canon to capture a time-lapse.
11. Your artworks have fascinating titles. What is the reason for this? Do you title the pieces before or after your artwork?
o Thank you! If I’m drawing or painting I’m almost certainly listening to something. This can be a podcast, audiobook, or Intelligence Squared US debate. Many of my paintings take their names directly from something in the content that I was listening to, either a chapter title, quote, or idea.
12. What types of literature or art history do you read to get ideas? What inspires you?
o I love science fiction – both reading it and writing it. However, I’m not sure if that influences my art. More than anything I’ve turned to authors who write books encouraging artists and entrepreneurs to create and be confident. Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic) and Jen Sincero (You are a Bad Ass) are two recently that help me keep plugging away at what can be a daunting adventure.
13. How important is social media for an artist now at days?
o I’m right in the middle of trying to figure this out. I’m constantly struggling to balance the time I’m spending creating vs. posting about my creation. I have some serious internal struggle with the idea of creating an artist’s ‘persona’ versus being an authentic self – and when or if those two things merge for better or worse. I think social media is important for artists. The question is just how important is it.
14. Is there something you haven't tried yet that you want to?
o I’d love to do a mural either indoor or outdoor. It is one of my goals for 2017 – but I’ve not yet been able to make it happen. My last resort will be just to paint our wall in the back yard!
15. What are some of your favorite artists in Arizona? What do you think of the Arizona scene in general?
o I will keep this list to 3 or I’d spend all day! Some of my favorite artists include:
v Mary Lucking (my sister-in-law) for her amazing and thoughtful public art works which incorporate the history of spaces along with beautiful cut metal and other media sculptures. It’s amazing. (www.marylucking.com)
v Ashley Macias: She’s got a mix of bright color, abstract mixes of human and animal forms that I find fascinating. I hope to have one of her pieces on day! (f)
v Janel Garza: I love the clean lines of her work and futuristic shapes of her sculpture. Also, she chooses her color palettes really well and I always learn something from every piece she shares. ()
Before Time 3
Before Time 11
Apotheosis exhibit 2014
Eye of God 1 2015
Butterfly Wings and Angelic Messengers 4
Her Interview with Me
1. You grew up among a family of artists and writers that also have strong religious roots in the Mormon faith. You mention this as an element in your most recent exhibit at Burton Barr – “Before Time”. In what other ways has this part of your life affected the way you work and your subject matter?
My late mom was a Mormon history buff who spent ten years writing a book. She would take trips to BYU to research for her book. She had articles in LDS magazines. I was proud of her writing. I wasn’t a big Mormon back then. Thought it kind of boring. Now I realize the connections to Mormonism were some of the most fascinating things about my mom.
There are three creative people in my family of 6 siblings: myself – an artist, my twin sister - a writer, and my brother - a muralist. The three of us are the ones that are active in the church. I think spirituality makes you vulnerable and that vulnerability connects you to an imaginative side. You find your faith and enlightenment in something that isn’t tangible.
The religious part of my painting started on a whim. LDS paintings are typically very conservative, i.e. a semi-naturalistic picture of Jesus with a light behind him. I grew up with that all my life. My art has always been more outsider or abstract, and my style not for everyone. So, the idea of actually doing LDS art as part of my career was never seen to me as a possibility. My brother who went to RISD talked about a Mormon classmate named Jeff Larsen. He said Jeff did a performance piece where he dressed up in a yeti outfit on stage and recited the LDS children’s song “Once there was a snowman.” I was impressed that he didn’t let conservative artistic traditions hold him back from how he chose to express his faith. So, I began to think about how to paint spirit babies. I did some paintings of some old men as spirit babies in pajamas. I thought of spirit babies as old men full of wisdom. It was fun and goofy. My brother called me and encouraged it, saying “That’s definitely not the usual LDS art.” I wouldn’t say I’m a Jack Mormon. But I was never the Molly Mormon go-to girl. I was not happy-go-lucky, nor ready to be a missionary.
2. You are posting about an Arizona artist every single day for 365 days. What has that process been like for you? What have you learned from the interviews you’ve had with these artists?
I have a friend Ione Lewis who started a Central Arts District Blog. I was hanging out with her while she was writing up her blog, and was inspired through her to do a blog myself.I had been going to First Fridays for a year and the same ten artists were rotating in the same five galleries. I thought “There have got to be more Arizona artists out there.” I thought about the 365-day format because it’s a large number but on a daily basis easy to absorb. I did a lot of research. I looked up all I could about vendor artists and artists who stand outside Revolver Records. I researched different scenes like Yuma and Tucson. Also different types such as glass and ceramic artists. Looked up graduate students. I emailed a million artists on Facebook asking them if they wanted to be on my blog. I really love helping out emerging artists the most, but also enjoy including seasoned artists.
I feel that I’m more aware of the Arizona art scene in general. I realize the artists are showing everywhere now. I also try to make it to shows by the artists on the blog. It’s nice to meet them in person.
The photography scene is the most provocative and some of the most cutting-edge stuff on my blog.
3. If all of your artistic dreams were realized – what would that look like? You mentioned you’d like to do installation art. Do you have a concept in mind for what that would look like?
I would love the opportunity to work bigger, I stopped doing large works because of storage problems years ago.
It’s funny I started a painting series a month ago. When I started I decided to do it as an installation series. I didn’t listen. seventy five percent into the series I realized that my intuition was right.
I have this I idea of canvas cut outs of these tall pleurant figures around a room with thousands of little paintings in the middle of the room.
At ASU Sandy Winters came to visit. I looked at her installation work and it was very amazing. Would love to do something larger than life.
4. You mention you spend five to six days a week at Warehouse 1005, an art studio and gallery in the Phoenix art district. What has that experience been like?
Warehouse 1005 is an art therapy studio. I have bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. I have been going to Art Awakenings and the Warehouse for five to six years. My self-confidence has increased and the diagnoses define me less. For years I felt like I always had this load on me and it would never go away. When I entered the program I started painting about my mental illness. I never liked painting about the darker side of me. Also, I never liked being too introspective in my work. I don’t think I was excited about revealing the unglamorous sides of me. But when I did a feeling definitely showed up in my work that hadn’t before. All the pain made my work richer. I still paint about the topics but less obviously. Confronting those arenas of my life made me more self-accepting and overall a more well-rounded person.
5. How long have you been showing your artwork in Arizona? What was your first show here?
I’ve been showing my art in Arizona since I was 19. My first show was in The Paper Heart which was a great place for emerging artists in Phoenix at the time. I showed for two to three years. I really wasn’t prepared for all the hard work that I would have to do to get my work out there. I was naïve thinking things were going to happen to me really fast.
I stopped showing my art for five years because my thoughts were too fast and I couldn’t concentrate. I was later put on the right medications again and my focus was back. The experience has taught me never to take my art for granted.
6, What impression do you want the viewer to have from your artwork? What do you want others to remember from your work?
With the current work I’m doing I’m hoping have a connection to spirituality and to a perspective that is uniquely my own. One viewer at the show said “I didn’t even read your artist statement but I knew it was spiritual.” I know my LDS perspective might weird some people out. One person even said “Don’t give me no Book of Mormon.” That is far from the point. I am actually conflicted about my spirituality. I would even admit I don’t fully have a testimony yet. So my artwork is me trying to question and still connect to the spiritual on some level.
7 What social causes do you advocate? What do you have passionate opinions about?
I’m not extremely political. Feminist, but not an extreme. I do try to keep my positions on issues moderate, despite having an extremely conservative upbringing. I am that way. My mom was extremely black-and-white in her way of thinking. She would say “It’s bad. It’s a sin. Case closed.” Though I do tend to have mostly Christian friends, I recognize there is value outside of that bubble. Some artistic people aren’t Christian and have intellectually sound opinions.
8. What art genres categorize your work?
Probably outsider art. I’ve had my art called that negatively. In art school I found it insulting. Now I realize the best artists are from that genre. I remember seeing the art of Adolf Wolfli when I was 20. I was a pop artist at the time so my work was far from that at the time. But I saw an artist who created his own cosmology and artistic language. You know there is a hidden artistic language in his work. He has layers of musical notes and swirls. Yet it doesn’t matter because its intensity and different cosmology draw the viewer in.
9. What is your artistic process? How do you start a piece and how do you finish it? What is your studio like?
Each series lends its own kind of figures. I have questions like: “How do I dress them?”, “What art period do they come from?”, and “What do their anatomies look like?” I generally use a reference. For the “Before Time” series I printed pictures of Renaissance sculptures. I sketch but generally distort the figure in some way. A lot of this is because I started out studying caricatures when I was seventeen. I don’t see things realistically. They always come out looking cartoony and unreal. Once I have the figures sketched out I imagine some sort of backdrop. With the “Before Time” series I thought of some Roman buildings and some open organic form in the background.
I start a figure in terms of layers. I look at the sketch and paint the shape of the body and the face. With the hundred figure project, it was 100 or so of these types of figures lined up. With a close up of a face, it’s the shape of a head. I layer first in black, then blue, then red. The layering makes it more sculptural and gives it some history. I then do some line marking. I scribble some dark red, dark yellow blacks, yellow blacks and some neon dark reds. I then proceed to do the eyes. The eyes are really important as they show the soul of the figures. I do the mouth and the lips. After the eyes and the lips I call it a day and then do the flesh tone the next day. It’s not usually obvious but I do add neon pink and neon red in my colors. It helps brighten the skin tones. I usually do most of the blending of the skin tones with big brushes but usually my fingers. With the Before Time series I did hundred so of the figures. One painting took me a month. Very detailed work. Every figure had their own personality and soul. I finished the painting think almost of a spaceship on top. One person even commented “Beam me up.”
10.What’s your current studio practice? What is your studio like? How often do you do art in a week?
I paint right now upstairs at Warehouse 1005. I rent a little space. I no longer do art therapy there. I graduated from the program. It’s affordable. The table I paint on is full of paint. So is the floor. I paint five to six days a week I usually start painting at 10 am and go home around 2 pm. I think that’s as far as my attention span can go.
The night time, in general, is when my creative juices start working. Between twelve am to three am I usually binge on some TV show and sketch all night.