Casey Matthews is a dear friend, whos paintings never fail to stir my imagination. They have such energy, movement, and depth to them – each one pushes the boundaries of reality just a little bit.

What are your main inspirations in art?
Aside from my art being “my job” and profits from “my job” provide me with both necessities and comforts in life – a more creative answer for inspiration and motivation for creating is actually difficult to articulate without confusing both myself and the “listener”. For me, I believe that my art is neither a blurred color interpretation nor an exact blue print of the world, but instead, an initiatory approach, an examination, a projection, an echo from a relationship with the world – with other people. It is a relationship which is constantly reexamined, ever present, and one that should never settle. It is an invitation to proceed on the way to meeting myself, the one that is forever evolving and reinventing. Painting (creating) is a sacred act. A naked self-examination is the most precious thing to be discovered. And congruently being the most and the least tangible, and elusive: It is wisdom far and beyond. It is a fear of being discovered as the cliché you really are; a walking contradiction.

I also create to preserve my sanity.

What is your art background? (education, experience, etc):
From a very young age I was encouraged to create. My parents had me involved in every sport and after school activity you could imagine yet nothing really held my interest like art classes did. I have always lived my life as a creative person and creative thinker. Whether it is in the form of cooking, gardening, decorating a home, dressing, fixing things, inventing things, or solving problems: I find comfort in all things visual and beautiful. I try and take things at face value – never really analyze or question the process or habit.

I have a formal art education in Art History, Painting, and Graphic Design from the University of Alabama, but I really think I learned the most from being thrown out there in the real world and given the freedom to explore on my own. It has been a long, hard (lonely) road at times. I was not really “taught” that I could actually be an artist. Like everyone else, I was encouraged to go on to graduate school – but for what? To teach? But how can you teach if you have not lived/worked/struggled as an artist? I never understood that. I could barely squeeze out an undergraduate degree, so 2-4 more years of school (and debt) was not an option. I have no idea what my former classmates are doing today. I never see their names in regional juried shows or galleries. I can’t imagine what I am thought of by my art peers or professors. I try not to over analyze it too much and just do my own thing. One can waste too much energy if they begin to worry about what everyone else thinks of them.

And even though I often cuss the fact that live in a cultural wasteland and a vacuum of a small town – I find I am actually more productive if I keep to myself and not concern myself with what everyone else is doing at the moment. I enjoy looking at other art, but I find creative over-stimulation to be crippling at times. I subscribe to New American Paintings, and ArtForum, and Art News in case I feel really out of touch.

What is your process for creating your work?
I am always looking for visual sources of inspiration in everyday life. I can walk through a retail store and absorb composition ideas, or flip through a design magazine for color combinations that strike me. I mentally collect patterns in nature that intrigue me while on a bike ride or beach walk. I even admire different types of music for its rhythm and multi faceted layers. I then combine these influential snapshots with my own energy and mood and to create an intuitive piece of art. It isn’t until later that I can be subjective and dissect what was actually going on in my life at the time. For the most part, I refer to my work as “non-objective” because I don’t really want to answer to any symbolism that may or may not occur – but in reality, my work is a visual diary of current events in my life, history, and surroundings.

I paint for myself. I am a visually driven person, and also enjoy experimentation and challenge. I am more successful when I clear my mind and let the circumstances of the painting come to me. I try not to over think or plan about what I am actually doing. In turn, I find my work very rewarding and I feel that the viewer can recognize the soul and passion that goes into each piece verses something that is massed produced just to turn a buck.

What is the single most important thing you want to communicate with your work? Actually, I am not really sure I want to communicate anything with my work. Is that weird? I don’t deny that it is a form of communication, but it is only a private glimpse here and there that I let you see. (if I incorporate writing in my paintings, I often blur, erase, and smudge words so it is not completely recognizable.)

To be honest with you, I am not sure what I really have to say yet. And even if I had something to say I would probably think it too arrogant to push that on society. That is just my personality. I am private and shy. I am not angry or political. I am not a feminist or disabled. I don’t really have story. And even if I did – I loathe pity so I probably would not share it just to sell a few paintings. So if my paintings are reduced to being called “pretty mindless pictures” I don’t really mind all that much. I am not really trying to prove anything. I am not trying to pretend I am deep, or articulate, educated, or even know what I am doing. I am my own worst critic and have myself to answer to. When it comes down to it, I don’t really think I am doing anything all that new or inventive – besides, hasn’t everything already been done? I just find joy in pushing the envelope with my materials and technique. Maybe that is what I am trying to say?

What are your career goals?
Good question. And one I need to repeatedly remind myself of. I have goals that I achieve and constantly add to, but these are the forever constants:

– First and foremost I will always need to paint more. The more I paint the more consistent my body of work becomes and is easier to market and easier to get into the galleries and juried shows I really desire. The more I paint the better I become and the more I sell. And the more I sell – I can putt off the thought of that day job I was supposed to get way back when.

– I need to have more of my work seen. I am currently trying to get into a more galleries and juried shows. To gain a foothold on larger markets I have only just tasted (NYC, New Mexico, California, and Chicago). I would also like more corporate placement work. Work with interior decorators and architects.

– I would like to write and obtain grant money. Also achieve a level of success so I can submit proposals for public art programs.

– To maintain relationships with the patrons I already do have but have neglected (mailing list, emails, etc). Attempt to blog, and let people “in”

– To be a better business person, keep better records, be more outgoing, and market more. I will always be in a constant battle for structure and organization. Something that is difficult for me but essential for any self-employed person.

What has been the most instrumental in helping you achieve what you have so far?
I have very supportive parents and long time friends that “get” me.

I have been blessed with fearlessness. I never give up and I don’t take no for an answer. I am a sensitive person, but for the most part, when it comes to my work I can be objective to criticism and rejection. I am very thankful for that. I also try to keep really busy and avoid putting my eggs in one basket to allow myself to get hurt. In fact, rejections, insecurities, fear, and anger fuels me – I am able to successfully harness my problems and struggles into creative endeavors. It is the best antidote.

A few random factoids about me:

– I have hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and camped!)

– When I was 16, I became a published poet, and to this day I won’t let anyone I know read anything.

– I have an Italian Greyhound named Stella.