Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Welton.
Andrea, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was three, I used to stop by Marvegos Fine Art School in Saratoga, CA for hours at a time before my piano lessons next door. When my mom realized I had a true interest in art she signed me up for classes. The rest is history. I continued taking classes at Marvegos till the age of 17. At the time, I was painting mostly realism; landscapes and such.
My art education continued at San Diego State University, but I ended up not being ready for college and dropped out my third year. It’s funny looking back on it now, but at the time I had failed painting. It’s a lesson I’m grateful for. Thankfully that wasn’t the end of my art career. I ended up managing and teaching at an after school art program, Little Artists, for eight years before finally applying to Art Center College of Design.
In 2013, I moved up to Los Angeles and started my undergrad. Art Center taught me a lot, and I’m extremely grateful for those years. During this time, I started hiking and camping again which was one of the turning points for my work. The landscape has had a huge influence on my current practice.
After graduating, I attended Picture Berlin residency in Berlin for two months before attending UC Irvine for my MFA. It’s been three years, and I can finally say I’m graduating in June. If you are around the opening of my thesis will be held on May 18th from 2-5 pm in the UAG Gallery at UC Irvine.
Has it been a smooth road?
Oh goodness, no. I think being distracted in my early twenties and having other priorities than art definitely put a wrench in my plans. Sometimes I feel like I lost a couple of years when I look back and see how many artists who are younger than me have succeeded. But then I ask myself what really is success? I think just being able to maintain my practice and be comfortable.
It can be difficult not to be too hard on yourself as an artist especially when there are constant rejections, struggles to find a reasonably priced studio space, etc. And don’t even get me started about grad school. Grad school is literally tearing your practice apart and building it back up. I remember the first year of grad school I was speaking with a friend and he said to me, “Do you feel like you’re in hell?” I responded, “Yes.”
He replied, “Well, then you are exactly where you are supposed to be.” That has always stuck with me. He, of course, was right, and I have confidence now that I never had before with my work. I’ve realized that whenever, mentally, things start to get dark, and I begin to lose hope something always happens to remind me of why I continue. I live for those moments.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I produce paintings with layered applications, materials, and techniques that speak to both the historical representation of nature as well as the lived experience of the body in nature. I investigate new methods and processes to challenge the properties of the materials I use as well as asking the sincere question of how do I construct a relationship with this land?
Process is imperative to each of my paintings. I consider my practice performative painting placing myself nearest in history to the Gutai movement. The Gutai movement was interested in performance, painting, and interactive environments. They used the nature of materials to tap into chance. The purity of the material was important to them – not wanting to change the material but use it for what it is.
Currently, each of my paintings begins with walks in nature and collection of natural materials, writings, and mappings. These walks are through different geological sites, altitudes, and seasons which allow for a range of experience. Starting October 2018 and with the plan to continue, I have taken research trips to the Eastern Sierras in order to forage natural materials.
I have collected bark of Douglas Fir, Mountain Mahogany and Birch seed pods, quartz, granite, soil, volcanic rock, Coyote Sage Brush to use for natural dye stuffs, and pine cones from the Tamarac Pine. Sketches are then produced on site experimenting with the boundaries of each material. The sketches created are through a highly utopic lens.
The final paintings are created in the studio based off sketches, photographs, research, and findings. The painting always begins flat with an ink spill and depending on the size of the canvas, my whole body is usually involved. There is a dance between natural and synthetic materials. Both are poured onto the canvas and react to each other slowly, finally intertwining as the materials dry.
An extension of myself, my paintings express the values I have for the outdoors, relaying to the viewer both a physical landscape as well as the inner landscape of the artist. My practice is engaged primarily through the investigation of natural and synthetic materials as well as texture and color as a response to the land and my experience.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
I’d have to say I truly adore the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. There is always something to do whether that be an art opening, a concert, a new restaurant to try, a beach clean up, you name it. I’ve always liked to keep busy, and this city allows for that. What do I like the least about this city? Traffic, no question.
- Website: www.andrea-welton.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: awelton
Stephanie Klotz, Kayla Kee