An Interview With Cierra Rowe
Cierra Rowe’s artwork is captivating. Totally unique and powerful, her acrylic paintings have a soulful intensity and ethereal beauty. There is a dark edge to many of them. Yet there is a playfulness and wondrous creativity in all of her ideas, that are exploded onto canvas in her detailed and energetic brushstrokes and vivid colours. Coming from a personal lover of dark film, photography and artwork, I cannot help but admire her awesome paintings of horror icons such as Freddy, Pennywise and Jason.But it doesn’t stop there, gorgeous landscapes, awesome abstracts and incredibly detailed and utterly compelling illustrations that obviously come from an artist of unique talent. I am reminded of Salvador Dali and David Lynch.
You can view Cierra’s artwork on her website: www.artbycierrarowe.com
Cierra is also on Facebook
And see her paintings on Pinterest
She also has a a Podcast: https://www.mixcloud.com/CGRPodcast/
Please talk about where you grew up and where you live now?
I grew up in Kentucky, in the belly of a rural area outside of a very small and quiet country town, where the hills roll and the locals roll their eyes. A town where strangers aren’t hard to find. It’s the kind of a place that is easily forgotten once you pass it on the interstate headed to more vivid and lively scenes. Kentucky has so many beautiful trees and land, but the smaller towns can be gloomy. I’ve only ever lived in rural areas and though the quiet has a way of being very loud at times, it can also serve as a companion for finishing a piece. I currently dwell in a similar place and within the same State.
How did you discover artwork?
As a child I gravitated towards art. I fixated on shapes and colors and would pair them together as if they were mates. I loved scribbling and drawing portraits that looked nothing like the subject, telling silly stories with my crayons, markers and pencils. I guess that I was a somewhat curious child with a vivid imagination and like most children I felt proud of my mini masterpieces. But the glow and magic of childhood is fleeting and as I grew older and came face to face with womanhood, I began self injuring and suffered through a long battle with bulimia nervosa. Therapy wasn’t working, the threats of being institutionalized were not phasing me and the medication seemed to steal the best parts, or what remained of me, away. It was at this time that I began focusing on Art and gave it a real chance. Painting (and art in general) served as a healthy outlet for me. It alleviated the stress and racing thoughts while giving me the opportunity to freely express my feelings without boundaries and without harming myself. I was able to ‘’confess’’ in a way and find clarity through the maze.
How does your personality affect your artwork?
On most days I question my eccentricites and I sometimes try to understand why my subject matter veers into the abyss so absentmindedly and why I often walk towards darkness, rather than light, with paint in hand. I’m moody and have dealt with anger issues in the past, so maybe my palette is directly influenced by those crawling moods and that past red-faced anger. Like everyone else, there are dark things in my past as well. The foggy canal that is memory surfaces and engulfs me from time to time to let me know that it’s still there and that all is not forgotten. Because my artwork acts as many things, including an escape for me, I tend to not think very often while painting, maybe I ”leave” for a while and come back and find clarity upon completion in some odd way. I can’t say for sure how my personality affects my work, but I’d like to think that it adds something authentic to my paintings and that it aids me in staying true to myself and who I am.
ARCHITECT OF THE MASOCHIST
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from within me. Sometimes I’m not even thinking about painting and an idea will come to me and I’ll have to jot it down on whatever paper I have at hand to preserve it. It’s very easy to lose ideas. I think that my curiosities and fondness for experimenting have a great deal of blame to carry for the ideas that come about. I’m an emotional person and I should also add that brooding, overthinking and panicking is a ferocious combination that has the potential to bring forth some very queer ideas and conjure unusual or unique scenes.
What preparations do you make when you come up with a new idea?
First off I have to write down the idea, lest I forget it and ruin what could have been a good thing! Depending on if I’m in my studio or not, I’ll grab my crate of paints, a few colored pencils, my jar of brushes, a canvas of my choosing and set to work in a natural lit area. That sounds mundane, I know but that’s really the only preparation. I don’t levitate or speak in tongues, haha, it’s just that simple.
Inside and outside the art world, who or what are your greatest inspirations and why?
While considering everything, I have to say that in terms of inspirations I am inspired by what is real; Fear, love, intimidation, facts, lies, sex, tragedy, chaos. There is an endles supply of inspirations in the chilli of existence. But to be more specific, Nature comes to mind, namely the woods. The woods have always surrounded me and so many of my paintings have been sparked by glancing at them or thinking of them. Their textured, worn branches reminiscent of older nights, interlock to form a womb, and invite my ideas. The woods hold so many miniature homes and critters, one can’t help but find a place inside of them and let them hold more. Human nature is another inspiration. I think that we are all creatures in some way shape or form. We are all walking to a different drum but despite superficial differences all of our flaws, fears, faces and desires collage together to form an astonishing fresco, pulsating with voices and color. It is inspiring because when you think about human nature and when you consider all of those years before yours, all of those legends, tales and omissions and all of those people who came before you, how can one not feel the impulse to share what is inside and to capture and release time onto a canvas? Thirdly, my husband inspires me, in more ways than I can count. He utters not a bad word of me but I know how difficult I can be. He puts up with me, haha, you know but he gets me. His firm support of my art and of me as a female painter inspires me to continue decorating canvases while satiating my appetite for hue and form.
Why do acrylics work for you?
When I first began painting I immediately gravitated towards acrylics, almost as if they were my only option. I guess that I can attribute this to being familiar with acrylics at a young age. I only ever experimented with oils once and let me tell you I was not prepared for the patience that they commanded. Acrylics dry faster, while still having the ability to be molded to fit my preference and style.
What specific tools do you use for your illustrations?
My illustrations are admittedly much easier to create than my paintings, this is because my materials are minimal. I use a basic generic brand of blank white paper, sometimes cardstock. I buy in bulk, which is always a good idea and brands tend to vary depending on where I purchase and how much I can afford. I also use black ink pens of the gel variety, pencils, be it lead or graphite and black acrylic paint to fill in the gaps that pens sometimes miss.
What themes/concepts are you interested in expressing in your work?
I am very clumsy, not just literally but in the sense of being a painter. I am a clumsy painter because I will begin a painting with one theme in mind and inevitably, like those darn suspense movies, there comes a twist. An example would be my painting ‘House of the Red Sun’. I exhibited this at my local Chamber of Commerce some time ago and laughed a bit too loud when the women studying it spotted the large serpent that I had added near the couch. Originally I had intended to paint an unfolding scene centered around an antagonist and a protagonist. I wanted to convey a sense of uneasiness and excitement, and maybe the serpent was just what I needed to do that, but I didn’t have that in mind when I added it. I’m impulsive. ‘House of the Red Sun’ is one example of how uninhibited some of my art can be. My illustrations are also very clearly impusive and very nearly perverted. I don’t always have a blueprint in mind or a basket of themes and concepts to touch on, because I’m human and, like everyone, I have those days where I just want to paint apples. You know? but I do have real life experiences and I do have things which keep me up at night so if you bear that in mind, you can see that I really enjoy expressing reality, from my points of view, in my paintings. I’m never one to limit myself with regard to subject matter or concepts and frequently enjoy expressing passion, anxiety, lust, debauchery, innocence, confusion and scenes of everyday life within my paintings. In truth, you can’t get away from life until you’re dead and as my Father-in-law said, ”You’re a long time dead”, so in that spirit, I’d like to keep adding life to canvases and express every single thing that comes to mind, for me.
How has your work changed over time?
I would like to think that my artwork has changed in a positive way. I’ve always been imaginative and have always enjoyed experimenting with lines, form and subject, so that has remained the same but I didn’t always take my time. I was much more impatient when first starting out and have grown be more patient and slightly more relaxed in terms of completing a piece or working towards completion. Some of my older paintings are hard for me to look at. I know that it’s a good idea to revisit them but I frequently think ”Now why on Earth did I go and do that? That looks stupid.” haha, it’s just very easy to find flaws in my older creations. I also think that I’ve improved on my ability to capture faces. I wasn’t always able to to that. Portraits used to be very intimidating for me and more often than not as a young girl I would huff and puff like that big bad wolf and cry at how disappointed I was in myself. Little did I know, portraits, like all artwork, takes time.
How do you market your work?
I share and market my artwork on my Facebook page and on my Pinterest. I also have a site which I update and list my paintings on. It wasn’t always as simple as this. I was very much caught up in social media and trying to reach a larger audience. I have trekked through the hellacious island that is social media and have came out on the other side carrying a bitter frown. In the past I have given Twitter and IG alot of my time and energy and that’s not to say that I didn’t reap benefits from using those sites but I’m not built for managing all of those accounts long term and there are disadvantages. I no longer have Instagram or Twitter and am focusing on simplifying things and connecting with those who take the time to appreciate my efforts.
As a working artist what successes have you had?
I have been fortunate enough to send my artwork to buyers across The USA, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, China and Canada. As an artist, selling a piece feels so warm and good. Anyone who has ever given my art a chance, knows that they are very much appreciated. I have reserved a very large bear hug for each of them. They’re allowing me into their home, in a way and I find comfort in knowing that my paintings are sitting in homes that I’ve never seen, around people who I have never shaken hands with. I have also submitted to and been featured in a few print magazines, along with completing special or private commissions for authors and people who reach out to me. I have had the privilege of exhibiting my art twice and intend to find more places willing to showcase my artwork locally.
What is your favourite painting or illustration by yourself?
Presently I’d have to say that my favorite painting by myself is ‘Anxiously Awaiting’. I finished this piece in November and put alot of feeling into it. Not only was I inspired by panic attacks and general anxiety to paint this but the Gigantopithecus and Sasquatch were also a driving force due to my interest in animals (extinct and extant) and my curiosity of Cryptozoology.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, aside from more painting, I see a hot mug of tea, a hot meal and a movie starring Liam Neeson in my future. Those are my plans. I have to take it a day at a time.