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Muriel Areno

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
As long as I can remember. My aptitude for art was recognized early and encouraged. When I was a toddler, my mother gave me piles of old letterhead to draw on so I'd stay out of her ledgers. As an only child, I spent many hours alone in my room. We had no TV, so I would either read or draw. I remember being fascinated by the huge sets of watercolor pencils in shop windows. There was nothing I wanted more. Just round the corner from my house, an artist held an art open house for kids every Thursday (French kids' day off in those days). It was fun and unstructured, but the artist was always willing to give guidance and encouragement. I only ever stopped making art between 1985 and 2000, when I was too busy with kids and/or my career as a graphic designer. But then my work was creative, so it was just a different outlet.
What is your medium of choice?
When I was young I would mainly draw in pencil, colored pencil or paint in gouache. I tried charcoal, conte chalk and oils in high school, and used mainly acrylics for the large paintings I did in college. I have a lifelong love of paper and everything that will make a mark on it. I also enjoy the sensual feel of paint. I liked clay for the same reason in college, but was never as good at ceramics as I would have liked. Photography is another passion; I found a camera in the attic at the age of 7 and have not gone anywhere without one since. I had a black and white darkroom for many years, but vision problems forced me to give that up. My digital camera is not professional-grade, but I have become proficient in Photoshop. I use photography and digital manipulation as a tool as well as an art form in its own right.
What are your motivations for creating?
Creating art has always been part of my life, and I can't imagine not doing anything creative. Looking at art, going to galleries and museums is a huge motivator. Art supply stores get me going as well. I am always on the lookout for an interesting object, a new composition, a different angle, the next source of inspiration as I go about my daily life. Most of all, I have come to the realization that art is what I do best, it is what I was put on this earth to do.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
I was lucky to be exposed to lots of art early in life; I would spend many hours as a child looking at art books and copying paintings. My main sources of inspiration have been early 20th century artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Gauguin and Cézanne. I can relate to the gestural quality and immediacy of their work. Among contemporary artists, I feel close to David Hockney and Alice Neel. Artists share a vision of the world that is personal and unique; I feel closest to those artists whose vision I recognize, whose excitement I can feel.
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
I love the look of collage and other layered works. I have always found mixed media exciting and would like to explore that direction, although I don't think I'll ever stray too far from two-dimensional work. I am in the process of sorting through boxes of accumulated stuff and am finding lots of perfectly useless junk that would make great components for future art pieces! From my years in graphics, I retain a love of letterforms. I will be looking for ways to incorporate words in my future work.
Read anything good lately?
American Vertigo by Bernard-Henri Levy. I was not impressed; he took a whirlwind (less than a year) tour of the United States, passing judgement on everything but not bothering to study the reasons for anything. I need to write a book about this country! I read a lot of non-fiction and magazines. I subscribe to Harpers and find much thought-provoking material there. I often pick out a book at random in a bookcase and start reading anywhere for as long as I can, particularly art and history books.
What are some of your artistic goals for the future?
To do more art than I have in the past few years. I have finally given up looking for graphic work, and I absolutely need to devote more time and energy to creating new art that is meaningful to me and hopefully to others. If I can find a direction and explore it in depth, I will be happy. But not satisfied: if you are satisfied, you stop producing.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
The works in my portfolio are extremely varied and different, but I see that as a strength, not a weakness. Even as I find a new direction for my work, I don't think I'll ever develop a rigid style to stick to, nor would I want to. I will always be ready to experiment and try new things.

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