Logo: picture of artists eyes as with name in front


APRIL 2006 issue, Kimberly Banks, interviewer

Valerie X Armstrong

I grew up in Coral Gables, Florida, which is right next to Miami. I spent much time visiting the Bahamas. To me my art is all encompassing. Everything I see I visualize as a potential art work. I also do freelance interior design work as that is where my training lies. My mother was an oil painter who was a great inspiration to me. My whole family is in creative fields. I like to take "nothing" and make it into "something".

Why are you an artist? What does being an artist mean to you? How does art serve you…is it your voice…your escape? Explain.
Actually I am an artist because I love to create. I can not imagine being anything else.

Could you talk about your latest series of paintings and what you are trying to achieve with them?
In my latest works I am using simplicity of line, brightness of color, visual impact and a little humor to invoke a sense of familiarity in each viewer. Sort of a" deja vous" experience.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully alive and well. I am very satisfied with my life as it is today.

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? Describe some of your endeavors
I have been in art shows and festivals, I have carried my works at the crack of dawn and set them up for grueling three day outdoor events in all kinds of weather.
Also, my art has been shown in galleries and public buildings which also involves hard work. I have donated works to charities which increases exposure while raising money for good causes. I find the less you have to carry an artwork around the better for the work and the artist.
I find that the internet is the perfect way for me to show and sell my works. There is a vast audience and I don't have to subject my works to the elements.

What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? Describe the influences or topics your works are centered around.
Life in general is my inspiration. I like simple everyday things; small moments to be captured forever.

Who are your favorite artists; what artists have influenced you, and how?
I love the bright colors of the Fauvist's such as Matisse, the clean lines of Picasso and Miro and the passion of African art. My mother was an impressionist painter and I feel her influence in my work as well.

Do you think of your paintings as being abstract? Traditional or contemporary?
I consider them to be a mixture of all three. When I "have" to pick a category I pick contemporary.

Could you tell us some more about your paintings?
I am very environmentally conscious. I abhor the concept of waste. I like to use left over interior design materials in my art works. My works are like paintings but I use fabric instead. They are what I call "pictorial collages", because they look as though they have been painted but are not. Essentially, fabric is my "paint'
I use black figures in my work to represent all humanity. They are sometimes genderless and usually faceless, leaving the viewer to interpret them as he wishes.

What formal art education have you had, and what role did it play in your artistic development?
Being the daughter of an artist was all the art education I had. But it was plenty. There were art books everywhere. I knew every artist in history intimately. I was fascinated by their stories and was inspired to learn more. I had a few art and drawing/drafting classes in college, but I already had established my style by then.

Where do you see painting today, meaning what is your view of art work being produced in today’s time?
Much of the art today is done on computers. I think that is the trend of the future. There are some wonderfully creative people out there. Artists today can use any form of expression they choose. That is the beauty of it. They are not limited to scratching an image on the wall of a cave.

If you could work with absolutely anyone (artists, companies, writers--anyone at all) on a project, who would it be?
I am one of those strange birds that works best by myself. I really have to focus on my work and I am easily distracted. I love people and love to be around them, but when I work, I work better alone.

Can you describe your creative process - how you come up with ideas for a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece of art? Describe your working method and technique for creating your pieces?
The ideas are everywhere. I wish there were more hours in the day to capture them all.
I draw out the picture on a board and find the suitable fabric to express what I am trying to convey. The fabric is adhered to the picture and is detailed with a delineating method. Other found objects are added as necessary.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Believe in yourself and don't give up. Explore every venue. Take every critique constructively. Let your light shine.

In this case we’d like you to contribute by shedding the light on another artist whom you may feel deserves a spotlight. Who would that person be, why and how can we contact them?
Everett Spruill Is a good friend and fine artist. I have watched his work evolve for many years. He is a wonderful artist and human being.

K. Banks

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