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Born in San Francisco, California, USA, 08/19/1951. No art education.

To make Art is a basic, instinctive need for the human animal. It pre-dates all language and civilization. Interesting that it is seldom an occupation that makes much money. Perhaps that is because we all can do it? Perhaps because it can only be judged subjectively? Perhaps because it does not serve a 'functional' purpose?

It seemingly has no purpose other then to reach a deep yearning of the

human spirit ... A deep yearning to 'create', To externalize our ideas and to emulate our visions of God. We want to create our own worlds, just like God. We can not command the seas to rise or the mountains to move ... but we can draw them any way we wish.

This need in us, so unique compared to other life forms, is the basis of all the cultures of the Earth. All that man has accomplished, the domination of the planet, all has it's basis in or need to create art.

Most of us grow older and become set in our ways, slowly growing blind to the beauty that life offers. The things in life that effect us makes it difficult to keep open eyes and an open mind.

I struggle to maintain my simple faiths in the face of inhumanity, horror and the
evident randomness of tragedy. It is increasingly difficult to keep hold of the magic that we once took for granted. I try to hold on to that in spite of the kicks that life hands out ... and to inspire others in that way, all through the creation of my art.

Living as an artist is my dream come true. I work 14 hours or s each day, and so far 'making it' each month is not easy. BUT MAN, I'd rather be doing this than ALL the other bullsheit I've done in my life leading up to now.

www.rsConnett.com

www.myspace.com/connett
http://vmaximus.deviantart.com
www.flickr.com/photos/connett
http://stores.ebay.com/rsconnettoriginalart

 

 

An interview with Robert Steven Connett
by Selin Yurdakul
January 2009

Hi Robert, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live? What is your background? When did painting become important in your life?
I currently live in Los Angeles, California USA. I was born in San Francisco, Ca. In the year 1951. I come from a middle class background with no artistic family influence. There are no artists, musicians or creative types of any kind in my family. One exception, My younger sister, like myself, is an artist. My father was an insurance broker. My mother, a housewife with no hobbies. In spite of being brought up in a family where there was never a single picture on the wall for decoration, I was always drawing.

I was encouraged to draw and recognized as having some ability to

do so when I was very young, perhaps 5 or 6 years old. Although my family did not appreciate art, they did encourage my ability and helped me by gifting me pens and papers with which to draw.

I feel that, concerning my art, there have been 3 stages of importance in my life. First, as a child, being recognized to have some talent in drawing, I was encouraged and so became interested in making art. This made art an important thing throughout my childhood, young adult and adult life.

The second important stage occurred with an event in 1978. At that time I was working in my fathers insurance business and was terribly unhappy. I had a depressive meltdown because I was drinking too much and felt as though my life was pointless. I decided the answer was to make art again. I had not made much art from my teenaged years to that point, when I was 27. It was then, to preserve my sanity, that I began making art as a serious hobby. From that time forward I worked on my art in all my spare time. Of course, I was young, so "spare time" came after social interactions. As time went on, and social interaction became boring to me, the time I devoted to my artistic hobby grew.

The third stage in this evolution occurred in 2004. My art grew in importance to me over the preceding years. At this time, all other occupations seemed impossible to continue. In spite of my need for money, I decided to make my art for a living, and no longer as a hobby. Since then I have devoted as much time every day to my art as I can. This averages out to 10 hours a day, every day.

Can you describe your typical day and what time is it right now as you are reading this question:)?
Okay … Right now it is 2:28 PM in the afternoon. I am eating breakfast and answering these questions. My typical day begins at noon or 1PM, and ends at 4 AM. This is my semi-nocturnal schedule which has developed on it's own over time. When I became an artist, I decided, "no more alarm clocks!" I do not sleep unless I am tired, and do not get up until I am ready. I followed what my body wanted. I did not look at clocks. It's ended up here; I feel sleepy at 4 AM, and sleep 8 or 9 hours every night. I use earplugs and an eye mask to cut off the light and sounds of the day. I like this. It's part of a new freedom for me.

My wife sees me only a few hours every day. (and I'm sure that's more than enough for her!) I am a reclusive and introspective person. I have grown to dislike and dread the city and it's people, (Although I live in Los Angeles). On the other hand, I can do well with people because I have been a salesman most of my life. However, my interactions with 90% of my fellow creatures is a conscious and deliberate role I play. Nothing is real. Everything must be analyzed and thought through, every word and action. It's uncomfortable, and often exhausting. I want to stay home in my studio and paint. I prefer to communicate with my fellow man via computer. This is more a 'real' world for me than the stage that exists outside my front door.

My typical day consists of getting out of bed by 1PM, responding to emails, working on making sales of my art and prints. Working on spreading my art over the web, and in galleries and magazines, etc. (for instance; interviews like this one), I spend time looking at the art of other artists. And of course, mundane mindless tasks of all kinds, (the curse of man). I usually devote the first 2 to 5 hours of my day to these things. The rest of my day and evening is spent painting, until I return to bed at about 4 - 4:30 AM.

What is your favorite medium? Are there any brands or materials that you like to use?
The medium I have gravitated to is acrylic paint. For many years I used watercolor and gouache. All of my early paintings are watercolor. However, they should have been acrylic! It was my ignorance and unwillingness to experiment that kept me using watercolor for almost 20 years. I look back now and see that I was using the
watercolor as one would use acrylic or oils. It was my dear wife who "forced" me experiment with acrylic. Once I started with acrylic, I never returned to watercolor.

For now, I am working very comfortably with acrylics. My favorite brands are "Old Holland", "Holbein" and "Goldens" acrylic paints and mediums, (in that order).

My favorite paint brushes are made by "Isabey", France. I often use sable

brushes, and I am very careful to keep them clean. For fine details I use "liners" in very small sizes. For these I use an inexpensive brand, "Loew-Cornell", so each small short handled brush is only a few dollars. I use these up in a matter of weeks. The more expensive Isabey brushes, I use for several years before they wear out, even though I use them with acrylics, which is not recommended.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by my every vision, every breath. My anxiety and my elation. The pains of every day life. The ecstasies of pleasure. The feeling of dryness and wet, cold and warmth, salty and sweet, heavy and light. My night dreams. My fantasies. My horror. My fear. My exaltation. My humiliation. My pride and my shame. The magnificent and the mundane. Every aspect of life is a thought picture which can be expressed as art.

What do you think about “Brave New World”?
I do not know it. You are referring to the book? I have not read it.

You write comments and share your thoughts about your works, give links to related web pages, suggest books and films. It is really great to read about the thoughts behind every piece and look at your works again with all the clues that you provided. Your words and works really complete each other and several visual sentences reveal themselves in your works after reading your comments. I’m really curious about how your art and thoughts are shaped. Please tell us about your creative
process.
Thank you for saying that. I do enjoy elaborating upon my artworks. I also like to link the things that inspire me to the painting. Many times, I will begin a painting with an incomplete vision of what I am entering into. As the painting evolves, I begin to see things in the painting, which I will then bring to life. Often these images are directly linked to subjects of interest. For instance, my last few paintings had images inspired by my interest in "transhumanism"
(wikipedia link).This is a quasi-scientific term for a possible future in which mankind, through science and technology can attain immortality and oneness with the universe. That sounds far-fetched. However, if you read the works of the respected M.I.T. Professor, Raymond Kurzweil, (wikipedia link) you might change your mind. Another recent work, "CRUSTACEAPODS" (link to the work) is inspired by my research into the work of "Ernst Haeckel" (wikipedia link). As you can see, I like to set reference links so if others are interested, they can read about these subjects themselves.

All of your works illustrate beautiful, surreal worlds, thought and painted with great patience down to its last detail and all these details have their own deep characters and true emotions no matter how small they are. They are all alive. How do you accomplish this?
Again, thank you. This is my goal. I try to achieve this by setting my goals higher and higher. There is no end point. If I could live hundreds of years, I would still be learning and evolving. I would still be perfecting my skills as a painter. I strive to become as proficient as I can in externalizing my thoughts and feelings through the mediums available to me in the world. Art is a mode of communication. I think the visual
communication of painting is more elegant and eloquent than verbal communication or writing. Many hours of work is required. As many hours as one can take is needed to perfect a craft such as painting. However, this is not "work" in the sense of that awful business I used to drag myself to every morning for 27 years. This is Gods work! I work for God, and my job is to become God through creation. No matter how many hours as I put into this work, I am always sorry to leave it, and always anxious to return to it!

Eyes, flying fish, faces, translucent spheres… What can you tell us about these
recurring themes in your work?

These, and others, are objects that fascinate me. In every artist's work I see recurring objects and styles. These are a direct reflection upon the artist’s personality, and his soul. The way an artist works, and the images he creates are as unique to him as snowflakes or fingerprints. This is why I revere all art. The act of creation is always a personal unique act. And in this world, it can be a courageous act! Art is like no other thing that we do. To make Art is a basic, instinctive need for the human animal. It pre-dates civilization.
Art is an integral and vital element necessary for the invention of civilization.
Creating art seems to have no purpose other then to reach a deep yearning of the human spirit ... A deep need to 'create', to externalize our ideas. With art we emulate God. We want to create our own worlds, just like God. We can not command the seas to rise or the mountains to move ... but we can draw or paint them any way we wish. Through art we create our own worlds.

This need in us, so unique to us, is a prerequisite to the foundation of all the worlds cultures. All that man has accomplished, the domination of the planet, all can be traced back to our need to create art.
Most of us grow older and become set in our ways, slowly growing blind to the beauty that life offers. The magic that we believed in as children fades into foggy memory, then dies. The hardness of life makes it difficult to keep open eyes and open minds. We become fixated on simple and superficial goals. We become weak.

I struggle to maintain my simple faiths in the face of inhumanity, horror and the
randomness of tragedy. It is increasingly difficult to remember and believe in the magic that I once took for granted. I try to hold on to that in spite of the kicks that life hands out ... and to inspire others in that way, through the creation of my art.

How do you know when a work is finished?
It tells me so.

I’ve read that you collect different objects in your studio. Can you tell us a little about these objects and do you have a favorite object?

 

Like most artists I have met, I am inspired by "things", and I end up with little collections. At one time in my life I had a huge collection or art and artifacts. All that burned up in a fire in 1995. However, that's a tangent story, (link to the story). Now, I have more simple things. Stones, old bottles, a petrified cat, dried fish, old bones, pine-cones, masks, animal skulls, old dolls, paper weights, stones. The list evolves. Mostly junk. I do have a few treasures. A rhinoceros skull that survived the fire which I've had for 40 years. That might be my favorite thing. Bought it for a hundred dollars from an old man back in 1968. I've managed to hold on to it all these years. I look at these things very differently than I did before the fire that took my house, and most of my art up till that time. In those days, I was obsessed with my collection. I was obsessed with acquiring for the sake of acquiring. It was a beautiful and valuable collection. However, it took many precious hours of my time

Now, I understand how important time is. You can never possess things. You can never truly possess anything. If anything at all lasts, it is what you make of yourself.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
The "zone" of perfect concentration I can sometimes achieve when I have been working for many hours. It's like a state of self hypnosis where I feel completely focused on the painting. It is the time when I do my best work.

What do you do when you’re not working?
Wanting very badly to return to my work.

Could you tell us about your future projects or shows?
I have one show group scheduled for April 4th, 2009 at the BOLDHYPE gallery in Orlando, Florida, (gallery link). I am submitting work to several galleries. I want to get scheduled for group shows during the coming years. I have not shown my work for 15 years. My last solo show was in 1990, and I was still a hobbyist at the time. I have many commissions. Enough to keep me very busy for about a year. I love the commissioned paintings because I can do anything I want. The only predetermined part of any project is the size. My work will be published in a hard cover book about underground artists that will to be coming out next year. The book is titled "UNDERGROUND ARTIST'S REVEALED". My most important project is to keep focused on my painting and to keep evolving.

 

www.rsConnett.com

www.myspace.com/connett
http://vmaximus.deviantart.com
www.flickr.com/photos/connett
http://stores.ebay.com/rsconnettoriginalart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Steven Connett

 

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