This month’s Artist Spotlight features painter Ali Herrmann, whose encaustics fascinated me as soon as I saw them. I love the organic nature of her work and the layer upon layer of delicate seed pods and dried flowers in her paintings. She notes at her Etsy shop that she is “heavily influenced by the growth and decay cycles of nature” – hope you enjoy this peek into her creative process!
BT: Please introduce yourself and your medium.
Ali: I am Ali Herrmann, an artist living in upstate New York. As a child I always had coloring books and crayons in hand, so I think my creative talents probably began when I started filling those books and branching onto blank sheets of paper. Over the years I’ve done some book arts and ceramics, but my medium of choice has become painting. Within that medium I use oils, acrylics, watercolors, encaustics, mixed media…whatever it takes to the get the look I want to achieve.
BT: What themes do you pursue in your work?
Ali: The themes I work in are inspired by nature and the botanical environment. I document what I am see and am inspired by in my sketchbooks, that way I have a visual reference when I tackle my paintings. In addition to using nature as a reference point, I also like to use pattern and repetition in my work, and find that I enjoy looking at bright, colorful fabric patterns for inspiration as well.
BT: What “fills your well” and inspires you to create?
Ali: Color is such an important part of my work and probably the biggest component that inspires me to create, but unlike other artists, I cannot easily put color on a canvas and call it done. I really need the imagery, the visual recognition of something more than paint, that draws a viewer in. Color is only part of that equation.
BT: How do you handle creative block?
Ali: Creative blocks happen to everyone. When that happens, I look through magazines and my old sketchbooks. Something is bound to catch my eye, whether it be old or new, it allows me to see things that I’ve done and the things that we just mere sketches and were never given the opportunity to be anything more. Looking at my sketchbooks is like time travel for me; it always brings me right back to that moment. And if I ever feel really stuck, I work in my other medium, which happens to be artfully inspired jewelry. Making jewelry keeps my mind and hands busy, allows me visually see and play with color in a different perspective, and still create something wonderful. Often I find that that shift in medium inspires me in different ways, thus unlocking the block.
BT: If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
Ali: You asked me ‘if I had a superpower, what would it be?’…hahaha. I’m not looking to be a superhero, but I would love to have the power of teleportation. Living in a rural area means always having to get in the car and drive distances to do anything, which ultimately takes time away from being creative. There were a few times last summer when I had back to back craft shows on the same day, so that meant setting up and breaking down my booth twice in the same day, usually with only an hour and half (or less!) in between. It would have been so nice to have myself and display to be beamed up and back down!
BT: What artists do you admire?
Ali: Elizabeth Condon, Amy Sillman, Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, Jeffery Lipton, and Mark Shapiro.