© Laura Guese
Castles in the Sky | Oil on watercolor paper | 22 x 30
Castles in the Sky
“Many of my paintings contain building thunderheads viewed at higher atmospheric levels, surreal and fortress-like. My work embodies the concept of ‘castles in the sky,’ or striving toward the impossible. The clouds have sharp edges similar to the harsh exteriors of castles, yet they still evoke a certain cloudy softness and luminescence. I’m captivated by the idea of attempting the impossible because I believe anything is truly possible. It is through my paintings I wish to pass on to the viewer a moment of endless hope and serenity.”
− Laura Guese, From the Artist’s Statement
With Mike Foldes
Q) When did you get interested in art?
A) I have been interested in art my whole life. I started drawing on furniture and walls when I was a really young child, much to my parent’s dismay. I think I became serious about art around the age of 12 when I started taking classes at the Art Student’s League of Denver. From then on, art was always an important part of my life.
Q) What are the subjects of your earlier work?
A) The subjects of my earlier work were much more representational. I painted landscapes and buildings for the most part. When I started focusing more on the sky, I moved away from other subject matters. I was and still am fascinated by the sky.
Q) Who were your primary personal influences? Family? Friends? Teachers?
A) My older brother influenced me at a young age to become interested in art. In high school I had a wonderful art teacher who really encouraged me to keep painting and exploring my art. In college, I had fantastic professors as well that motivated me to become a professional artist.
Q) What other media do you work in these days, besides oil on canvas?
A) I primarily work in oil on canvas but sometimes I like to paint using oil or gouache on a really heavy cold pressed watercolor paper. Sometimes it is nice just to work on paper.
Q) Do you have any memorable teachers? If so, who, and what did they bring to your process?
A) My high school art teacher, Mrs. Bouchard, was so memorable to me. She was the first one that really taught me how to paint with oils and I became fascinated by oil painting. She was so encouraging and passionate about art.
Also in college, my painting professors, Ray Beldner and Roy Schmaltz, were so instrumental in helping me to develop my own style, technique and voice artistically. They really taught me to trust my own artistic perspective and to run with it. I’m so grateful to have these teachers in my life! I’m not sure if I would be an artist today without them.
Q) What about artists? Who would you say is/are your strongest influence/s?
A) As a woman painter living in the West, I have always loved Georgia O’Keeffe, especially her western landscapes that are a bit more stylized.
I also love the romantic painters, J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Fredrich for their moody atmospheric effects that feel so haunting and emotional.
I’m a big fan of René Magritte. His wonderful surrealist landscapes have really influenced my work, and inspired me to think about the sky in a more surreal manner.
Q) You speak of a meditative quality to your work that you hope people will find and follow… Do you meditate?
A) I consider painting itself to be so soothing and meditative for me. That is my form of meditation. Time stops while I’m painting and hours pass without me realizing it. It is such a great feeling to become totally lost in the creation of a painting.
I also practice yoga, which I consider a moving meditation. I’m so much more at ease with a daily yoga practice.
Q) Do you have musical influences? If so, what are they, and what kind of music do you listen to most while you work?
A) Yes, I have always loved listening to music while I paint. I’ve always been a big fan of classic rock like Tom Petty and the Beatles but I also love listening to bands like Chvrches and Tennis while I’m painting. Music helps to get me in the right mindset to paint and connect with emotions I am hoping to translate onto canvas.
Q) What is the program in France that you will be doing? How did this come about?
A) I already completed an artist residency in France called Centre d’art CAMAC in Marnay-sur-seine. I had been researching artist residencies and came across this one and decided to apply. While in residence, I was able to develop my most recent body of work, which was a departure from what I had been creating prior to the residency. Being in France without any daily distractions allowed me to look at my painting in a new and different way.
Q) Is there anything you would like to add that I have not asked?
A) Thank you so much for your interest in my art! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to explain my work further.
For more images and information about the artist, visit www.lauraguese.com.
About the interviewer:
Mike Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in About Us.