Orlando Sanchez is yet another fantastic artist in the lineup for the Empty Kingdom Summer Show. Hailing from Naples, FL but currently in Austin, TX, Orlando’s work is colorful and full of vitality. He has immersed himself in the perception of the human being, both physically and emotionally, check out his art and his interview:
Introduce yourself, where are you from, where are you now, how do the two differ?
Hello my name is Orlando Sanchez and I am a figure artist AKA Mark Maker living in Austin, Texas. I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. They are both beautiful places but Austin has running trails and streams of water with deer running around while you listen to live music playing in the distance. While Naples has it’s lovely beaches with the few nearby bars that have Jimmy Buffett “If you like pina coladas” on loop through out the day. In contrast of the flat swamp landscape in Naples, in Austin there are not that many mosquito’s because of the 750,000+ bats that come out from underneath the Congress Avenue bridge in a black swarm during sunset to eat from 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects nightly. I consider Naples, Florida a very relaxing place to retire and Austin an all around bad ass place to live!
How has living in Texas, specifically Austin, affected your work? How has it affected your technique, your subject matter, your opinion of art? How has your perception of art changed as you have become a more established and knowledgeable artist? What do you appreciate now that you did not before? Are there things that you can no longer appreciate that you once did?
This has been the first move out of the state and into a medium sized city. I loved Austin as soon as I got here and I think it was mostly because of the potential that I projected onto the city. To be honest there hasn’t been disappointments but just more opportunities that I wouldn’t have considered happening. Such as working as an artist at Fader Fort during SXSW and seeing Snoop Dogg perform “Drop it Like It’s Hot.” (I didn’t realize how powerful his music was until I saw hundreds of people sprinting towards the stage when they realized it was really him.) Then a couple weeks later body painting and live figure drawing at the ArtErotica event here in Austin to raise money for the Paul Kirby Fund. What I realized from being in Austin is the appreciation of experiences in your life. I see art being an expression and interaction with your reality. My work is not only about the figure painting but getting to meet and collaborate with amazing people. We get to make an entire experience from the figure modeling, body painting, events, hanging out, photography, drawing, and oil painting. Each person influencing the others’ work for the duration of that time. In contrast, I also appreciate the solitary struggle on every piece, the constant frustration of your limited ability, time, and resources. The internal battle of wanting to do your best and trying to enjoy the process at the same time. Once I get to the other side of the piece there is a sensation of growth in ability and a humble perspective. Well, sometimes it’s a bit arrogant but working on a new piece quickly destroy’s that ego. Austin has given me a perspective of having a life and enjoying where ever I am in it with the people around me, while before it was mostly about art and needing validation.
What does color mean to you, what does it convey to you? You use a vast and vibrant array of colors, which do you use for what purposes? Do you find yourself using different colors based on the mood you’re in? Or the music you’re listening to?
I love going running in the woods near my place that leads to what people call the secret beach during sunset. To see the color combinations and color transitions. I also enjoy going to the secret beach in the full moon. Watching deep blue skin tones on people while every 15 seconds fire flies give a little circular orange accent to the environment. Walking over to a bonfire and watching as the shadows dance around the figure in front of me. My point being I try to be observant and become influenced by the colors and experiences I have in Austin. Color has become magical and mysterious. I have associated color with a sensation, a feeling that I get by looking at a color shift, as subtle as it maybe. This is how deep in the rabbit hole I’ve gotten myself into.
How important is your headspace when you are working on a piece? Do you use music, literature, substances or other techniques to get in the right mind state that you want for a piece? Do you have to be in the same state of mind for the duration of a single piece or does it change? If so, how do different moods affect the outcome, the direction of your work?
It is more important to acknowledge the head space I’m in. That way I can tell whether I will need inspiration and constant stimulation from audio books, podcast, or music to get myself going, or am I in a space where I can work in complete silence. Working in complete silence is the best way of working but the most difficult one to work through. There can be a great deal of self analysis that makes my jaw clench.
I don’t for the most part have the same state of mind with pieces that take longer then 1 hour to make. The 36 hour plus paintings are layers of different states on top of one another. I don’t know if everyone can see the layers, but there have been times when someones description matches what I was thinking in those moments. It’s one of those WTF moments.
Can you tell us a little about the piece you are sending to Minna? What is going on in it?
It is an exploration of mark making, abstraction, and capturing Robin’s elegant demeanor. I enjoyed capturing the slowing down of time, the illusion of light and space. The piece is capturing these concepts and creating an overall mood of admiration and serenity.
One of your ongoing projects is Robin, what is it like to work on a project continuously for a long time? Are you the kind of person who works on something continuously and never considers the book closed or do you walk away for good when finish a project? How has working with a single subject for an extended period of time affected the content and the direction of the pieces in the series?
Well you begin to learn more about your habits and emotional cycles. The variable in the experience is your state of mind but the subject matter always stays the same. With one drawing a day I did a years worth of drawings, and found that when I was excited about the pose and had a clear intention the drawing would come out fun and well worked. If I was overly confident the piece would fall apart and ruin the experience. (It would feel like you’re just going through the motions, even if the drawing was done well).
During many bad drawings I thought there would be no way I could ever be a professional artist. I knew that this was only a limited feeling and had to press on and use that energy to achieve what I was looking for.
This ongoing project has shown my emotional cycles, tested my ego, and my perception. This experience has truly opened my eyes in my relation to others.
I like finishing projects and moving on to another adventure.
By having a single subject to study I have been able to visually explore more directions. If the subject is the same I focus on looking at it with a new perspective. I’ll do that by changing the medium, the design approach, or focusing on certain nuances. Such as the look that she gives in certain photos. There are times that I’ll choose bad blurry photos just to see what happens on paper.
What are you working on now? What is your dream project?
I’m working on designing a limited run of kinky scarfs for the models I shoot with to wear and also to collaborate with a couple of great designers here in Austin. I started a couple weeks a go and we shall see how far I go with it. I like the idea of making cool things for people to interact with.
I recently had the idea for a dream project and I don’t know if this would ever happen but to be commissioned by Abel Tesfaye A.K.A. The Weeknd to paint large gorgeous female figures in deep dark moody settings. To make a showcase at a gallery with a performance and light show. It’s a bit of a stretch but I love his music and it has been the limited music I can really get into for the past 3 years. It’s mainly because of the narrative in all the albums. I also play his albums during photo shoots and figure drawings, really sets a kick ass mood. It’ll get you to do that squinty feels good face and start moving back and forth a little.
Would you rather live in a castle in the sky or Atlantis and why?
Castle in the sky. I’m going to say a floating castle in the sky so that I can assume I would have an android device that allowed me to fly. What happen to the Jet packs by the way? I don’t like the idea of everyone having jet packs, but what about being able to fly with something that had a greater deal of control. I’ll also except griffins, when I was in middle school I loved the idea of a griffin being real. These bad ass giant winged lion serpent beast beings! Yeah son!