The World Is Meant To Be Discovered: An Interview with Artist Tjasa Owen

  • Aug 31, 2012
The World Is Meant To Be Discovered: An Interview with Artist Tjasa Owen

Featured artist and personal friend of the Eisenhauer Gallery, Tjasa Owen, recently gave an interview where she discusses the inspiration of her paintings, how social media has changed the art industry, and why she has a soft spot for The Eisenhauer Gallery.

Q:  A lot of your work is inspired by what you see in your personal travels, do you think an advantage of your work compared to your competitors is that your paintings allow your audience to, almost relive your direct experiences? Tjasa Owen:  I photograph a lot when I travel..It's my other creative side, which helps me express things I am drawn to if I am not in front of the canvas. I never actually paint from my photographs, so the landscapes are completely started from scratch, but inspired by colours - compositions - feelings I get as I am on my travels... {C}

I think people enjoy the BLOG because it shows both the paintings in progress, the studio, but also the "off season", which is the time when I close the studio doors and "set off down the road" behind my camera and with my sketchbook. And to answer the question, --I don't think of other artists as competitors; each one is unique in their own kind and create beautiful things whether well traveled or not. The travel for me is personal and comes out often in the work, but when I start a painting, I am staring at a blank canvas which slowly gets covered with lines and then colour.  There is never a particular plan in mind...I start layering the colours and then slowly something comes together, and I keep going until I feel that moment --where it does come together. Q:  Do you think there is a benefit for an art enthusiast to see something that the artist sees, or to view an idea that the artist has? Tjasa Owen:  For me personally, I would rather they not. I love watching a client see my work and have that moment of connection. They go to a place in their memories where the painting evokes something for them that way. My paintings aren't of any specific place...and so I love watching the viewer connect with that memory or inspirational moment and share it with me. I keep the titles of my paintings very loose, just for that reason. It's truly a magical moment when a person "falls into" the landscape and connects with it on a deeper level.

Q:  How does your experience and inspirations change from your residences on the east and west coast? Does your work reflect a certain style and tone depending on where you are within the U.S.? Tjasa Owen:  I only paint in my studio in San Francisco. When I am traveling on the East Coast or abroad, I only bring a small set of watercolours, my journal and camera...when I return to the studio, those things and my memories are my biggest inspiration before I start the painting. Q:  Other than natural landscapes, what else inspires your work? Tjasa Owen: Travel, travel, travel- I can never say that enough. It cracks me open every time and brings so much to me emotionally and to my work...but also there is nothing like walking the coastline wherever it should be, feeling the sand, finding beautiful treasures the ocean sends back, sitting with the incredible horizon line and feeling the salt air and surf. There is absolutely nothing in the world that moves me quite like that. My heart skips a beat. Q:  For anyone who personally knows an artist, most people understand that their “process” for creating a new painting, is unique in that it takes time to come up with an idea and see it through to fruition. Can you take us through your creative process when developing a new painting? Tjasa Owen:  There is no process for me. I lift the canvas up on the wall and just start painting...I will mark up the canvas a bit with coloured pencils and graphite with lines that help guide my composition, but within an hour, those lines have disappeared and the landscape presents itself to me. It's a slow but beautiful process...and many layers of colour. Q:  You have your own blog, a website, and are building a social media audience to further your reach. Do you consider “Tjasa Owen” to be a brand? If so, where is this brand heading in the future?

Tjasa Owen:  I hope never to be a brand. I am not aiming to be one through my blog or website...I just love sharing images in a way that could inspire or move someone...I know I have spent a lot of time on other people's blogs -whether they should be about families traveling with their children around the world...or another artist I admire and watching their creative process...it moves me. The website is a bit of a more formal setting for clients to look through the work, understand my history, galleries, where I have shown, exhibitions, academics, publications, whereas the BLOG is more of a daily entry for me which is creative and a bit apart from the canvas. I also have a page on Facebook, but again, that is less of a creative background for an artist I think, but it reaches out to many. My goal is to continue working with the wonderful gallery owners that I have been so blessed to work with over the many years, to continue painting for all my days and to eventually have a Barn by the sea where I paint and show my work as well --open to anyone who wants to come visit. I'm not sure where that is going to be yet, but I can already hear the surf and see the horizon line of the sea. Q:  How interactive are you with your fans and audience? What ways do you interact with online consumers and art enthusiasts alike? Tjasa Owen:  I would say mainly through Facebook and my Blog...people can easily find the website as well. I receive the most amazing emails and letters from collectors and admirers... I am always very moved by them. When a painting sells, I send the collector a note. There is nothing like watching a painting leave the studio and wondering what your connection will be with it in the future. I always try and stay in touch by sending all collectors postcards and notes along the way. Have I mentioned yet that I am avid letter writer as well? It shows through the work...the little hints of postcards/ lettering/ notes/ stamps...as if I am painting a postcard from my thoughts that I send out to the world. Q:  How has social media changed the dynamics of being an artist? How has the transition from predominantly marketing and displaying your work in a tangible way, to being able to host a snippet of your work online changed the way art collectors reach artists? Tjasa Owen:  It's extraordinary in all ways. I don't think the computer will ever replace the feeling one has from experiencing the painting first hand, but just being able to send the work "out there" into the world and having it be accessible is truly amazing. I know I feel that way as I discover artists I love and follow...I ended up contacting one of my favorite artists to tell her how much I loved her work and after many emails and calls between us, it turned into one of my most treasured long distance friendships. But in general, social media has been truly extraordinary for artists/ galleries and clients alike. Q:  Your work with The Eisenhauer Gallery is pretty extensive as far as your relationship and number of offerings listed, do you have plans for building upon this relationship in any way? Tjasa Owen:  Just to continue creating great work for Elizabeth who is one of my favorite people ever for many reasons. Her story, her gallery, and the immense amount of work she does for her artists and clients always inspires me. When we sell an artwork together, it brings me so much joy for the "two of us"- truly.

Q:  How do you feel your work with The Eisenhauer Gallery differs from others who host your work? Tjasa Owen:  Elizabeth and I have a wonderful connection for many reasons (one of which is an Island special in our hearts)...but, when not talking shop, we love to laugh and just connect...I wish it was more often, but I try to make it out to the Vineyard when I can. Elizabeth inspires me with the wonderful artists she chooses to show in her gallery and how she makes everyone feel special. I admire her lifestyle and the choices she has made her her life, both for her family, friends and work. She finds balance in things and always makes very very thoughtful decisions. It's important to admire that in someone who shows your work and I think that makes her incredibly unique. She also loves to laugh and I find myself in fits of laughter when I am around her.

Q:  Do you have a particular message for each of your audiences? Does the Owen name and portfolio mean something different in Europe than it does in the U.S.? What about each coast? Tjasa Owen:  I hope my message is the same on both coasts and abroad. The paintings I exhibit in each gallery don't necessarily reflect the galleries location (East, West or abroad) ...I always ask the gallery owners to choose the pieces they love out of my portfolio and those paintings are the ones that get packed up in big wooden crates to ship to them. Hopefully the "Owen name and portfolio" is of this: "Each piece, for me, is unique and carries its own story.  My landscapes are inspired by my love for the Atlantic coastline as well as my travels abroad. I will incorporate my memories of different places, textures and colours I have seen into the individual pieces. Rather than documenting any actual place, I am more interested in reassembling the elements of scenes I remember - the way we do with snapshots and scrapbooks - to create views that feel shared and remembered.  I sometimes add postscripts and incomplete phrases from my journals or sketchbooks to imbue these new places with a sense of time and history. I liken my process to conjuring a landscape postcard in my head, reproducing it on canvas, and, by adding an ink stamp, it’s as if I am sending it back into the world.  By making paintings that feel like correspondence, I invite viewers to invent their own stories about the places I create in my work." - Tjasa Owen Q:  Are you planning on coming back the The Eisenhauer Gallery and Martha’s Vineyard anytime soon? Tjasa Owen:  Send me a ticket and a babysitter for the kids and I'm there!

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