Breaking the regimented paint process of commercial art
Originally from Sacramento, Calif. artist Erin Galvez recently walked away from a guaranteed paycheck in an effort to allow her love of color, her imagination and her heart to break through the confines of commercial artwork. Galvez earned her degree in art from California State University, worked in Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts while growing up and moved from Portland, Ore. Last January she moved to El Paso, while painting for a Phoenix based company that specializes in commercial art. However, shortly after she arrived she says something about the people, the culture and the local art inspired her to quit her job and create her own paintings.
TAA: What was commercial art to you?
Erin: Commercial art is not in my heart. I did what some call “sell out” with commercial art because I didn’t really know how to paint until I began teaching myself. It is a set of different choices. There are certain rules you had to follow. You are never to paint anything peach. Healthcare never wants red pieces and you weren’t to use a lot of purple, but that is changing. Commercial art is how to make something look really well, really fast. I started at 10 cents a square inch in 2004 and I was up to 35 cents on paper and canvas until I quit.
TAA: You consciously made the switch three months ago to quit painting in the commercial world—how do you feel about that choice now?
EG: Oh man—I am so relieved. There is this burden lifted and coming to the studio is such a different feeling. It’s my work. I’ve never had this kind of freedom. My drive is kind of insane now and it’s all coming together. I feel blessed.
TAA: You are currently prepping for a 25-piece exhibit at The Art Avenue Gallery this December. What inspired the collection?
EG: This is actually the first collection I started when I dropped my commercial art. I was inspired by a serape collection. I’ve probably been influenced by this area…these first designs were like serapes and now they are transcending, starting to look more like designs.
TAA: Knowing they are evolving from your original direction, do you feel you have been able to successfully navigate your breakthrough from commercial art to contemporary abstract painting?
EG: Yes the pieces are definitely meditative and they change and each one evolves into the other. I think chiefly I am a colorist. I just started researching Gestalt psychology which tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. I am hoping it will allow the information to articulate a language to describe my work, that is why I am applying to graduate school. My strength is in color, it is intuitive. I am responding after each successful layer and I am also really interested in surface and acrylic materials in regards to contemporary painting as an art practice.
TAA: Have you noticed a difference in the time it takes you to create a painting now versus the turnaround time for commercial art?
EG: I’ve never really clocked it but it would probably take me, when I am working on eight at a time, that’s at least two a month of work, not including weekends, that’s weekdays. That doesn’t include the prep or framing. That’s a lot. I have to give myself breaks. If I worked on just these, it would take three to four months. It may look simple but it’s incredibly time consuming.
There are some of the pieces that have up to 60 layers in paint and glaze. I’ll put down a paint layer and a glaze layer that gives a physical space—it gives each layer a separation. There is a tiny bit of hovering between each color. That’s how the old masters used to build up their painting with glazes. We were taught to paint like that in college, I am not doing that exactly but it is the same thought.
TAA: Do you think you are too hard on your own work?
EG: No I wouldn’t have gotten here if I wasn’t. I am critical, I want to make really good work. I don’t want to be famous. I want to be respected about my work and make a living off my work. Making artwork is a big deal for me. It’s all about life and you don’t want to put just anything up.
Mestizoan will be on display Thursday Dec. 3, 2015 through Jan.9, 2016. The Art Avenue Gallery will also be hosting a workshop with artist Erin Galvez on Thursday Jan. 7, 2016.