The work of Stephanie Buer strikes a chord in me, it’s lonely, isolated and quiet. Every one of her pieces makes me want to step in to have a moment of humbled silence to appreciate both the human impulse to create and capacity to abandon. Come along as we see the process for one of here new pieces, Happy Bday.
WEDNESDAY July 23rd, 2014
What is the first thing you do when you begin a piece?
Well, first I have to go out exploring and take pics, then I go through my photos and choose one I’d like to work with. In this case, I picked a series for this larger show and this one is just part of that group. Then I pick a size or sizes for all the work, right now I’m finishing up the two smaller paintings for the show.
These steps were already completed but the part I’m starting in at now is laying in a drawing. I like to put very detailed perspective and building lines in. A good painting starts with a good, detailed drawing . . . . in my case anyways. There’s a million ways to go about it.
Where is your mind for this piece?
This and another one the same size, are my last pieces for the show, so my mind is a little frazzled at the moment. I’m just trying to keep focused, and calm while stressing out a bit. Its hard to keep that frame of mind from the earlier pieces when you’re right up against that deadline, plus you’ve added the task of arranging for framing, photographing, shipping, press, etc.
What’s going on in it and what does it mean to you?
This is another image from Detroit, the exterior of a building, the Packard to be exact. The images for this series were all taken within two days, this past winter in Detroit. I love winter and I miss it dearly living on the West Coast now. I was very excited to be in town when there was snow(winters there have been very mild the past few years) so I took full advantage of all the beautiful whites and the peace and calm that comes with a city all covered in snow. I love that. I have very fond memories of winters in Detroit, I’m the weirdo that just loved the snowy, cold weather. So this painting is just a continuation of that. The larger pieces have been expanded views, so the smaller pieces are a more intimate shot.
THURSDAY July 24th, 2014
Do you ever clean your studio?
No. I’m pretty tidy and organized on a daily basis . . . . maybe once a year.
What is the vibe of your studio?
I work in an amazing old building in the Industrial Northeast of Portland, right on the railroad tracks and down near the Willamette. Its beautiful! I work with 9 other artists in a shared space(10 if you count Scrappers 5 year old son Camper who works in the upstairs of the ‘Stay Wild’ cabin) With that many people working together the vide changes a lot. Sometimes when we’re all together working and its very industrious and focused, or I’m alone and its peaceful, or we’re all together and we get a lil crazy. We have lots of fun when we’re all together, I love it. The space has such a fun, creative energy.
What is the mood of the piece?
How is that mood changed or influenced by your work space?
The mood of the piece never changes, I hope, but my mood while working on it often does. I like to keep a calm, focused attention, but sometimes when the studio gets loud and crazy I feel a lil anxious. If that happens I’ll just throw on my headphones and put on some calm music. I like it when everyone gets loud and crazy though, most of the time I’m happy to take a break to see what kind of trouble we can get into.
FRIDAY July 25th, 2014
How has your week gone? Is your mood effected by the quality of the work?
My week has been busy!! but good. Sure my mood is effected, when I’m fighting the painting I get anxious, nervous or crabby. When things are going smoothly and lookin’ good though, I’m super happy!
What of your piece have you finished so far?
The bricks are done, and the graffiti, and I’m finishing up the concrete and window coverings after I finish my break.
What are you proud of?
I like the painterly quality of the concrete. The mix of warm and cool tones is looking nice.
Is there anything you need to repaint?
Yup. The road. Because I use a bright underpainting, the darker, more transparent colors need two layers.
SATURDAY July 26th, 2014
When do you name your pieces? What is the name for this piece?
Sometimes the name is very apparent right away, other times its a struggle. So anytime during the process I will name a piece, it just depends. I’m not sure yet, this is a harder one . . . . .
What’s the most important part of the piece? What is the focus for you? Why? What do you think viewers will consider the most important part of the piece?
I really enjoy the textures, and the different materials, its fun finding interesting and beautiful things to look at in unusual places. I was very happy with the piece of particle board over the doorway. I love it when you can take something like a rotting piece of particle board, and discover something very beautiful, I get very excited about that. The focus is the graffiti. It stands out the most, its bright, interesting, and centered. I believe people relate to it, they respond strongly to graffiti, either in a positive way or a negative way. Its hard to say, people are drawn to different aspects of the work, which they think are the most important, which is great. Some people will want to talk about the graffiti, some about Detroit, the composition . . . .
SUNDAY July 27th, 2014
Is there a prevailing feeling you have when you finish a piece?
If I’m on a serious deadline, like with this one its relief and hopefully satisfaction.
What is the mood of this piece? Where is the piece from and what was the adventure that lead you there?
Peaceful. This piece is from an image I took last winter of the Packard Plant in Detroit. Oh man, thats a long adventure. I suppose it started when I moved to Detroit at the age of 20 to go the College for Creative Studies. It was my first time living in a big city so I was curious, and I liked exploring. I ended up exploring this building in particular by hanging out with the artists at the Heidelberg Project. I was hanging out there a lot and helping them with a certain project. They knew of this giant room in the downstairs of the old car factory that used to be a collection room for Salvation army donations and the stuff was completely abandoned, we were in search of hundreds of cowboy boots that had been left to rot down there, it was for an installation. I went with them and immediately fell in love with the building and have been going regularly ever since. I remember one of them had a pack of lunchmeat on him, he said it was to distract the wild dogs roaming the plant, in case we had to get away . . . . I was like, this place is crazy!