21 Feb Veron Ennis – Artist Interview
Passed Night, 15″ x 15″ x 15″ (closed), 44″ x 33″ (open)
What made you decide to produce art or become an artist?
Like many creatives, I was drawn to art since childhood. I had a natural talent and I loved art museums, and happened to be blessed with the opportunity to grow up outside of Washington DC. Being an artist, it was all I ever wanted to do.
That was when I was young. As time goes on, I understand more and more what it means to me to be an artist. In short, it is to communicate through my own symbolic design, the love, excitement, and exuberance I have for all of our precious souls and their journeys. I open my heart to reach the hearts of my fellow human beings in the most genuine way possible that is unique to me and I do so in a dedicated, uplifting manner. I work to truly speak universally, painting in such a way that the person experiencing the work receives it like a…hug. A compassionate embrace that is unmistakably loving, solely for the benefit of each person that comes in contact with the work.
While being an artist I have worked in several fields relating to the art world. I’ve been a director for two gallery spaces, written for art publications reviewing exhibitions, independently curated for art centers, gallery spaces, and a university, lead courses for artists’ careers, judged several art shows and fairs, hosted art talks on a bimonthly basis in my studio, and I’ve served on an exhibition committee at an art center for three years until I relocated to Virginia.
Star Plan, 30″ x 40″
How does the creative process work for you on a daily basis?
I love this question. I currently live in the end apartment of a giant barn in the northern area of Virginia with my husband and young son. It’s a neat space, cozy and vertically stacked like a tree house. Very early in the morning while it’s still dark on certain days of the week, I get up and write. Currently I’m writing letters hypothetically addressed to all of the creatives of the world and I speak to them about the responsibility of creating art. Some of these can be found on my blog. Other mornings, I read and have discussions over coffee with my husband, Duncan.
After I bring my son to school and husband to work, I go to my studio, a little space with just enough room to create large paintings (barely). It is in a 200 year old brick building in downtown historic Leesburg, Virginia. If you like history, particularly the civil war, look up this town.
Throughout the day I document inspiring photos, articles, and moments, usually on my phone which I file into inspiration files. In the studio I reflect on my most recently collected inspiration while I prepare to paint. If I am painting a large painting, I first have to prepare the surface with the ground medium which I mix from a joint compound, acrylic matte medium, a flexible adhesive, and sometimes paint. I paint either on maple wood board or on canvas. I work on either raw canvas that I’ve stretched myself or prepared canvas, both are coated with the ground in order to have the right surface for the rest of my paint. Sometimes I mask off areas of the wood so that the raw wood remains exposed and use this as part of the composition.
All of my paint colors are predetermined. I plan a palette, a set of colors, that I use for an indeterminate amount of time. I have been using my current set of colors since 2015 and added a deep blue in 2016. I either mix these from tubes of paint to achieve the perfect color, as I did with the recent addition of deep blue, or I send Golden Paints Custom Lab the exact Pantone color code I’m looking for and they send me large jars of the custom color. This has been very helpful in the last two years for me to stay consistent. I then mix each paint color into a new jar, adding compound, medium, and sometimes texture.
After careful consideration, I begin with a pretty clear understanding of the overall feeling I’m looking to achieve with the painting. I’ll have chosen which color I will begin with and have a plan for either a geometric layer or a free-flowing pull of paint. Each require different preparation. A geometric layer may require some measuring, drafting, masking, or other techniques and a pull of paint requires loosening of self and lifting of internal restrictions. I go between these two approaches until the painting is successfully communicating what I intend or if inspiration stays long enough in a miraculous place, even better than I intend.
Most afternoons I’m back at home researching by way of reading books on artists, saints, or history, reading articles regarding current news and art news. On alternating days, I work on my website, update social media, write for my blog, respond to emails, return phone calls, pay bills, and even write the occasional letter, you know, with a stamp.
What has influenced or inspired you most?
On a daily basis I am inspired by other artists, constantly. I am so amazed and have so much wonder at the capability for us as people to communicate with such beauty and creativity. Following other artists, being friends with them, reading about them, all inspire me each and every day. Early on as a wide-eyed child, I would gaze with complete awe and wonder at the work hanging in DC’s art museums, always thinking to myself, these are my heroes, I want to know who these people are. I am invigorated, to the point of being overwhelmed sometimes, at how artists can create work that communicates so well, the infinite mysteries of this world, us, God, the universe, all of it.
Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to artists in 1999 and said, “Every genuine artistic intuition goes beyond what the senses perceive and, reaching beneath reality’s surface, strives to interpret its hidden mystery. The intuition itself springs from the depths of the human soul, where the desire to give meaning to one’s own life is joined by the fleeting vision of beauty and of the mysterious unity of things. All artists experience the unbridgeable gap which lies between the work of their hands, however successful it may be, and the dazzling perfection of the beauty glimpsed in the ardour of the creative moment: what they manage to express in their painting, their sculpting, their creating is no more than a glimmer of the splendour which flared for a moment before the eyes of their spirit.”
Major artists of influence over my lifetime include, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnett Newman, and Corita Kent.
Aeropause Return, 11” x 11″ x 11″ (closed), 28″ x 21″ (open)
Which medium do you favor and why?
I favor working in acrylics combined with a very matte finish compound. I prefer to work on dry layers, as opposed to using a wet-on-wet technique. This keeps the edges of each layer defined and graphically this accomplishes the crisp design I’m looking for. My colors are typically bright and saturated, which can feel shall-we-say “loud”, so I like that the finish is matte because I feel it keeps the painting approachable and soft without an added barrier of glare. I believe without this barrier the viewer has an easier time connecting with the intention of the work. Acrylics dry quickly allowing for faster drying layers which helps me accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, especially while my inspiration is fresh. On most paintings I also sand down layers of paint to reveal color hidden beneath, and the acrylics mixed with the compound works well for this technique.
Please comment on the subject, content or significance of your images.
Throughout the ages, ideas have been communicated through symbols; their shape, color, size, and order. I have a love for this universality of communication. In modern art, I love the paring down of elements in a composition in order to deliver a message in a concise, intentional, and perhaps minimal way. I create my work using a unique code comprised of universal symbolic elements that are combined with careful intention to communicate the beauty, the infinite love, and the wonder of this life we all share.
Metro Projection, 36″ x 36″
What have been the highlights of your career?
All of my solo shows have been great highlights of my career. The preparation times for them have been times of great leaps for me in my work. The challenge and excitement has propelled me to new levels of exploration concerning my theory and technique.
Also, I recently traveled to London for a special filmed interview at Illuminum Fragrance in their gallery. I exhibited a piece that evening that was featured in British Vogue and on that trip I had the opportunity to visit British Vogue’s headquarters. From there, I traveled to Riga, Latvia. I explored the city and its art culture and attended one of the most beautiful weddings I could imagine in an ancient forest along the Baltic Sea. It is a collector of my work that was married and had invited me there. It was very special.