In the modern art world, there are thousands of creative minds working each and every day to make our imagination soar, and to connect with their audience in a very cerebral way. It is up to each of us to decide what in fact we consider art, and what makes that connection with us. Some of us prefer hyper-realistic art that often appears as sharp as a photograph, others prefer to have their favorite subjects immortalized in a very artisticly muddled way, allowing us to know what the subject is, but marvel at the creative way the artist has chosen to present it to us. More than likely we all find ourselves appreciating the fine medium of abstract visual art. No specific subject, no defined emotion the artist is trying to convey, just you with the canvas and your imagination, making fantastic visual imagery out of a vague assemblage of paint strokes.
Enter the incredible artistic talents of Seattle artist Tracy Boyd. Her creativity is beyond definition, although some may have attempted to fit it into some category or another. If you’ve ever taken your sense of sight for granted, you will certainly appreciate every second of it, when standing in the midst of one of Boyd’s enormous works. If you have been deprived of your sense of sight, the texture of Boyd’s canvas and the layers and varying thickness of her brush strokes will make your imagination dance the tango in your mind. Any way you conceive of this artist’s amazing talent, one thing is for certain, if you are lucky enough to stand in the midst of her work, you will never forget it.
Boyd credits her process and the depth of her creativity to solitude. In a world absolutely FILLED with distractions and constantly evolving schedules and priorities, Boyd’s work reminds us of the beauty in stillness. Born on a rural farm outside Philadelphia, Boyd’s artistry came to life through hours of solitary contemplation and boundless stretches of her imagination. No instagram, no twitter, no facebook to fill her subconscious with ideas born in popular culture. Boyd was fueled by the desire to create, whether it was painting portraits of her friends and family, or recreating images she experienced in the vast expanses of nature that surrounded her.
Fast Forward to today, fresh off of a summer abroad sharpening her skills in the hillside villages of Italy at two different Artist residencies she was rewarded with because of her indomitable desire to create, and to master her craft. The first chance you get, you need to make your way to her latest exhibit. Whether you travel from across the city, or across the country, this artist is phenomenal, and you absolutely must include her work in your collection, or at the very least, the experience in your mental repertoire.
So…to break the ice, and allow you a glimpse into the mind, and the process of this phenomenal artist, we sat down with Tracy Boyd to learn a little bit more about her. Without further adieu…Ladies and Gentlemen,
Meet Tracy Boyd…
Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Tracy, let’s start off with how you got started as an artist. Is it a gift you’ve always had? Talk about how you came to realize art as a professional adventure rather than just a hobby.
A: My mom tells a revealing story, when I was taking an aptitude test to get from kindergarten to first grade she said “there were a handful of questions, but you never got past the one where it asked you to draw a duck.” I think I am still trying to master drawing that duck.
I grew up on a 66 acre farm, located an hour north of Philadelphia so I had a lot solitary time to allow creativity to independently develop (something I still cherish to get in the creative mode and do my best work). As an elementary student I was that kid drawing portraits of my friends and teachers and as I got older I excelled in art in high school and began creating paintings, many of which my family members still have.
Q: Take us on a visual tour of your studio space. What should we watch out for? What should we observe before anything else? What do you cherish most about your space? Talk about how your creative environment affects your art/ your style?
A: My space always must have huge windows, 10 feet plus high ceilings because of the large artwork I create. Of course it wouldn’t all tie together without a rolling bed & my older pug Haley who can be found snoozing away.
I usually have some kind of industrial plastic on the floors or walls to protect the surfaces from the paint that I will spatter around while working on a painting and it gives me clean surface to start with every couple months. My paints are in big standing tubes on a heavy industrial roller cart, (it is important my studio can reconfigure to what I happen to be working on or if I open my studio to the public) large brushes stored in recycled gallon gesso buckets, old yogurt containers filled with water and terri cloth towels everywhere I used to wipe paint away while working on a canvas.
I work on multiple paintings at once so you may see a myriad of paintings out and leaning on each other in my studio and often down the long hallway outside. It is essential I can see the current series I am working on as a group so I can constantly inventory what is working in the paintings and what is not. Much of what I paint isn’t left to chance but that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of happy mistakes I choose to keep.
Q: Your paintings are so incredibly textural and almost vibrate with a energy/life of their own. What materials do you work with when creating your art? Talk about your creative process. Are there different stages or do you just grab the brush and get after it?
A: I work in a quiet studio alone where I look for “that perfect” image I feel I can explore through my painting. During this time I go through thousands of visual thoughts about what might work filtering and discarding ideas until I finally have a workable one. Once I can visualize my intent, I begin with a big piece of charcoal to roughly sketch out my idea; immediately thereafter I grab a big wet brush and scrub those marks to let them drip and start to become something and soon after that I start applying a dark grey paint that begins to form the base of almost all my paintings.
I have a lot of physicality throughout the creative process, going from sitting and listening to NPR and suddenly I have three brushes going, a hairdryer some towels and it is a race to capture the phantom. A race to get somewhere. A race to catch something. I believe authentic painting is about not fearing the “fuck up” but instead embracing the rush of what you can come up with. Once the paint and water mix and begin dripping I start to wipe and create motion with a hairdryer. Inevitably there are puddles at my feet and towels down to collect some of the mess.
Q: Your piece “Falling” is one of, and if I HAD to choose, my favorite piece of yours. Can you talk a little bit about the INSPIRATION behind the painting, and also… talk a bit about how your style has developed since you began creating?
A: The painting “Falling” is also one of my favorites and in fact is hanging in my apartment. It is 7ft x 6ft Oil on Canvas which is my ideal scope. It is a great example imagery I found and pushed it further. I am constantly looking for imagery that is shocking in a nuanced way… like taking a typical subject such as a horse and or a figure and put them in different situations… off balance or larger than life for example. I love this piece because it represents the overall concept of the series very well, it demonstrates new techniques and it felt fluid and very original.
Q: Your work is very unique, and very large. How do you prioritize what environments you choose to exhibit your work in? Talk about your experiences with your shows, do you seek out specific events, environments, etc. to show your work? Do you have any current series’ in the works?
A: As a artist I am constantly keeping my art brand moving by networking with galleries, collectors and mentors. I look for galleries that my artwork will fit in and not the other way around. I may have an idea where a body of work is going but it often shifts once I hit a stride, my technique and painting style just take over. It’s hard to envision my artwork would end up in a small cottage because of the size and content but I am often surprised who buys my artwork.
As far as size, which I have been told by art consultants that the new construction going up has lots of windows (meaning less wall space and because of that larger paintings will be more difficult to market). My main argument, which seems to be proven true time and time again is that larger paintings like 6 feet can transform a room by actually filling a wall, unlike smaller paintings. I do embrace creating even larger artwork like in the Reclaimed Tarps Series (ranging from 10 feet to 20 feet in length). There are only a few spaces large enough in Seattle that could truly honor many of the pieces I have created these past few years. A work of that scale needs space to breath and of course a home, which means collectors that have room.
Currently I am working on series ranging from 5 feet to 4 feet that can be described as horses on vast energetic landscapes. I have focused on conveying motion and energy. I have also begun in this series to introduce new colors, new techniques and abstracted figures.
Q: Can you recall and would you talk about your most recent burst of inspiration? Did it come at an unusual place or time? Do you ever put yourself in a particular situation/environment to try and attract ideas or inspiration?
A: This summer I attended two separate artist residencies in Italy; one was in Tuscany and the other in Southern Italy. In both cases I spent as much time as I could outside, drawing inspiration from the exceptionally beautiful countryside. This was quite a different experience for a city girl and certainly was reflected in my work both there and since returning. I have a much stronger connection to the landscape and atmosphere my subjects live in.
Q: I normally ask about your most recent exhibit, but I know you just came back from a fantastic summer creative experience abroad. Can you talk a bit about that and what you brought back from that artistically/inspirationally/emotionally?
A: I believe the biggest shift was through forced action, much of this took place through simply painting, creating, and functioning outside of my comfort zone. Traveling to a foreign country is a challenge itself due to so many new elements; language, food, people, travel and location. Actually getting down to making art with all these other elements mixed in felt overwhelming at times and proved to be a challenge. Ultimately the residencies provided space to strip away many of accouterments and distractions.
Q: What do you hope that the audience takes away from their time spent viewing your art? What made you smile at your last exhibit? What made you gasp/cringe/retort/etc.?
A: My art is about studying the beauty of a subject while stripping away and exploring the essence of it. I fall into a trance when I am painting at my best and I hope the viewer does the same.
There is a part of the actual painting that has to be believable. What I mean by that is something the viewer can identify with and have clarity. The success of an artist lies in their ability to open the eyes of the viewer and reflect the subject in a new unforgettable light.
Q: Tracy, I am absolutely honored to be allowed to discuss your creative life with you. Being an artist myself I know how deeply personal some aspects of our process are, and also that there are those times we wish we could reach out to our audience and give them a better context of our passion, so thank you for being so open with all of us. I know the audience will all want to know where/when they can see your work currently? What is the best way to find out where you will be exhibiting next (Website, Facebook, etc.)
A: Thanks so much it has been an honor. I am scheduled to show the new paintings I mentioned February 2015 in Seattle WA. (please signup up for my newsletter or join my Facebook page for updated information)
My art website : http://www.boyd-art.com
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/TracyBoydArt