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Meet Palmer Earl

Today we’d like to introduce you to Palmer Earl.

Palmer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Like most kids, I had a passion for drawing and painting and seemed to have a natural talent for it. Growing up in New York City with its incredible museums and copious amounts of art, my passion to create grew. At home, whether it was painting, making shrinky dinks or learning to sew, my mother, a fashion designer, did art projects with my sisters and me a lot. My father made sure we saw all of the big museum shows. I will never forget when he took us to a Mapplethorpe exhibit. I must’ve been about nine. It was a shock! When I was seven I started taking painting classes from a wonderful woman weekly after school and continued that for nine years. At eighteen I was fortunate to spend a semester in Florence Italy at The SACI College of Art and Design where I spent my time painting or just walking around seeing amazing renaissance art like Botticelli’s Primavera or Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes right where the renaissance began. I think seeing the work of the old masters sparked my continuing interest in painting the female figure. After that, I begrudgingly attended a small liberal arts college for a few years before switching to School of Visual Arts and getting my BFA.

I wasn’t ready to try and live off painting alone in New York so for the next few years, I tried to stay creative by working as a Christmas sweater designer, decorative painter, pet and human portrait artist, and assistant to an interior designer. Somewhere in that time I moved to L.A. and decided to stop everything else and give my own work the attention it needed. My then new husband and I moved in to our house in Los Feliz in 2010 and I made a studio out of a small unparkable garage. Aside from the break I took when my twins were babies, I have been working as a full time painter, or as full time much as possible with two six year olds. I have regularly been in curated group shows, my work has been featured in Studio Visit Magazine, 3Elements review and on set of Happy Together a CBS Network TV show. I am very excited about my current body of work that explores the history of women’s oppression. Needles to say I have been busy but continually inspired!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always areas I want to improve. Finding a balance between family time and work time is a challenge. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the kids when I really want to get something done in the studio. I don’t always want to drop everything and rush to Target because it’s favorite color day tomorrow and my son has no magenta colored clothing. Luckily my studio is attached to my house so I can run down and work at odd times. Another area I’ve been working on is carving out “office time” for career advancement. Things like posting on Instagram, applying to shows, researching and emailing galleries, organizing my photos and updating my website, take up a lot of time that I would rather spend painting. I know it is important for a working artist but it isn’t very rewarding or stimulating. Also, marketing myself goes against my nature and it’s tough to accept it as vital for my career. Probably the hardest thing has been quieting down my inner critic. It could keep me from starting new paintings by disapproving of any ideas I had. So much time was wasted listening to that voice! Now I’ve learned to let it speak softly once a painting is underway because it often has good advice at that point.

Please tell us more about your art.
I have almost always made realistic, figurative paintings with narrative threads that speak to my experience of being a woman and the difficulties therein. During the #metoo movement, I became very interested in how we, as women, were still in this position that is lesser to that of men. Was there ever a time we were on equal footing with men or was this always our place? For weeks I read everything I found about this subject and filled my sketchbook with notes as if I was possessed. I was left enraged and compelled to visually interpret these stories, incidents and ideas that so negatively colored the perception of women. The time period between ten thousand BCE and year one CE seemed like a good place to start. So many social constructs like religion, mythology, philosophy, and government were created in that time and still greatly influence the way we are treated today. Sometimes I use pages from significant literature like the Old Testament or The Illiad, collaged on my canvases to represent the power of the written word or simply to relate painting to a specific story or idea.

Most of my paintings include the female body to represent famous women from myth, history or religion. A few paintings are about the destruction of the Goddess religion that flourished in Mesopotamia for thousands of years. Some work references creation myths like Hesoid’s Pandora or Genesis, and their negative implications on women. Ancient philosophy like that of Aristotle also played a big part in promoting misogynistic ideas about our nature and anatomy. Because of him, our reproductive organs were thought to be defective male ones well into the 1600s. He claimed we were unintelligent, overemotional and weak as well as deceptive, amoral, and materialistic. Maybe if we all see that the world’s general perception of women is rooted in false and unflattering mythology and history, we can see that our current views and treatment of women are unjust. I believe if we can understand the past better then we will be able to see the present in a truer light and begin to fix injustice within the sexes.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Success for me, pertaining to my career, is having the ability and means to pursue my passion for making paintings I am proud of and to continue honing my skills and growing as an artist. I think total dedication is the most important quality needed for success. I hope my dedication to painting will keep driving me to produce the best work that I can and that one day I will consider myself successful.

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