Linus Galleries, Fine Art Gallery
2014 Artist Interview Series
Linus Galleries, a contemporary Los Angeles art gallery, presents The Artist Interview Series. This series is a new blog featuring Linus artists from a variety of different practices and backgrounds and from all over the world! It’s an enjoyable read that shares insight into the artist’s creative process and workspace, as well as their view of the world around us. This week we feature Kassandra Mattia , a Laguna Beach oil painter whose creations are often times inspired from her childhood to create beautifully structured artworks. Two of Kassandra’s pieces were featured in the Linus Galleries Vulnerability vs. Strength art exhibition.
1) Please tell us your name, artistic practice of choice, and location in the world.
My name is Kassandra Mattia, and I am an oil painter. I currently live in Laguna Beach, California; however, my work is heavily influenced by imagery from my childhood in Northeast Wisconsin.
2) Are you self taught or did you formally study art?
As long as I can remember, I have always seen the world as artwork. One of my earliest memories is of having a huge headache from staring intensely at the edges of furniture in my parents’ house—I was trying to figure out if everything had a black outline or if colors sat flush together. I graduated with a degree in physics from Santa Clara University, but I took many painting and drawing classes along the way.
Because I lack a formal degree in art, I suppose some people may consider me to be self-taught. Personally, I never felt that I was teaching myself. Rather, I always feel the world giving me opportunities to see from a new perspective. That is why I make my work. It allows me to constantly be in a very childlike state of learning and discovery.
3) This is a hard choice for many visual artists, but what is the first answer that comes to mind when you think of your favorite color?
Yes, that’s hard. In my personal life, I don’t have a consistent answer. In my painting life, I’ve been increasingly incorporating phthalo green into my palette. All of the paints from the phthalocycanine group have a potent tinting strength, so they can easily add new energy to an established color scheme.
4) What subject matter appears most in your artwork? What do you love about that subject? What do you dislike?
In general, I tend to build abstract landscapes around the figurative elements of my work. I’m really interested in the tension that grows between the real and imagined images. There’s a certain psychological dialogue that’s created between the figures and the abstracted space they occupy. What I love about painting this way is finding the right balance between being descriptive and ambiguous. The goal is to create work that is definite enough to provoke emotion and memory in a viewer, but indefinite enough to leave room for the viewer to project their own story onto the image.
What I dislike about painting this way is waiting for the balance to come. There are times when I am impatient and force an image…no good. My paintings run on their own time. Some paintings come together beautifully—the tension is balanced from start to finish. Other paintings are just a series of climbs and falls, with the tension between the precise and indefinite unequal up until the end. It can be emotionally exhausting.
5) What is difficult for you about your chosen medium?
There is such alchemy to oil painting. The technical aspect of creating a chemically sound painting is fairly straightforward—however, it can be restricting. There are many choices of how to create an archival painting, but many of these choices depend upon one another, and can therefore prescribe physical limitations. While I want to make work that will last a long time, I also want to have the freedom to explore and really push the paint to do something visually extraordinary. Sometimes those two wants are at odds.
6) Do you have any secret talents or party tricks unrelated to your art making?
I can recall the chemical symbol for just about any element on the periodic table…also, not to brag, but I am excellent at translating song lyrics into emoji.
7) Which artist living or dead would you want to have a drink with? What type of beverage?
Egon Schiele. I’d probably drink whatever he was drinking. I would teach him how to take a selfie. I think he’d be really into it.
8) What musical artist/band are you currently listening to when you are creating?
Lately I’ve been mixing it up between Bon Iver, Regina Spektor, Josh Ritter, and Dolly Parton.
9) How do you unwind?
Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Repeat.
10) Any parting advice for budding artists?
I consider myself to be budding, so I’ll just share some advice I give to myself: Good ideas are everywhere. If they aren’t currently in your brain, attract them by moving a pencil around a piece of paper or something. Also, don’t be afraid to make terrible art. Some of my best paintings have very unpromising beginnings. It can be tough to find a balance between knowing when to just paint the whole thing over and when to tolerate the discomfort. But in my experience, making an effort to find the balance has really helped me develop my work.
Do you want to be a Linus artist?
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