Thursday, April 19, 2012

Subterfuge Studios Project: Episode 4: Vesper Lucille Rasputin

Subterfuge Studios Project is a blog series aimed at providing a glimpse into the studios and spirits of an eclectic mix of local artists. Whether they be painters, writers, musicians, performers, designers, or crafters, each artist featured in SSP has agreed to share his or her personal space with you, the reader. All bio and interview questions are answered in the artist's own words.

In this episode of SSP, elegant seamstress and visual artist, Vesper Lucille Rasputin, shares her lovingly arranged creative space, as well as some strong opinions about the hard work involved in being an artist.

Vesper Lucille Rasputin a.ka. "V", Ves, or Vesper

Oils, acrylics, brushes, canvas, inks, nibs and pens, pencils, Bristol, needles, thread, fabric, etc. I am a mixed media artist, and am involved in various projects from painting to illustrating, designing to sewing, photography modeling to artist modeling, and so on.
Studio name (if any):

I don't call the studio by any official name; it's simply “My studio”, and I'm just grateful to have the space. I know it won't be my last studio, and the one I have now will continue to go through many changes and re-arrangements. I think the only name that would be able to stay accurate, or fitting, enough over those changes would be “Swiss-Army Studio”, because it is used for a myriad of activities: painting, illustrating, writing, researching and reading, sewing, belly-dancing, etc. It re-adjusts to my needs every day, it is constantly changing, and more items need to be built and added to the space.

Northwest Bakersfield
Studio dimensions:

Approximately 14' x 10'

Favorite feature: 

I think my favorite part of the studio is the painting corner. It has the easel and converted card catalogers, which I hand-sanded and stained. Then I have a framed magnetic board (which my outrageously amazing boyfriend built for me) to match the other items, and to hang sketches and favorite quotes on. The corner also has a framed picture from the Victorian era (which is my favorite era) hanging just by the window. Then all of my canvases, paints, paper, brushes, pens, and pencils are in easy reach for when I'm working. It's the perfect little corner to lose myself in my work.
More info at:

1. Desert island book/movie/album (the one you can’t live without): 

Book: The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll--I am a die-hard Alice fan. Movie: The 1950s Disney animated version of Alice in Wonderland. Album: If I wasn't able to have my whole music collection with me, I would just drown myself in the ocean anyway.

2. Describe your favorite outfit: 

Neo-Victorian/Aristocratic or 1920s adventurer. I have studied the Victorian era and the fashion, and describe myself as a Neo-Victorian (and I'm sometimes referred to as “that Victorian chick”). I also like the 1920s aviation/adventurer style wardrobe. Corsets, gloves, goggles, stockings, hats, knee-high boots, flowing skirts and fitted's all fun and good.

3. What local events do you promote/attend? 

Well, every blue moon, I would go to the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra concerts, and during the holidays, will attend the Nutcracker Ballet. I try and go every year, or else it just doesn't seem like the holidays. Music is my most favorite and adored art form, and nothing is as wonderful as hearing it in person. The ticket prices can be a bit much to go frequently, though, but for some free fun, checking out the local galleries, or perusing the streets at First Friday are enjoyable, as well. It's always inspiring to see other artists' work, and to see the change that is happening in the art scene; it keeps growing, which is what this town so sorely needs.

4. When/how did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I never really thought to myself at any point, “I want to be an artist.” I simply enjoyed drawing and painting when I was younger, and kept on with it. Then, I got involved in many other artistic and artisan activities, and progressed in them, too. After drawing and painting for so long, I changed my major at university from music to studio art, and “studied to be an artist”. That blew up in my face, because after I graduated in June of 2011, I stopped drawing and painting for the rest of the year. I was burnt out and frustrated, and still lacked knowledge and technique that I should have received. I'm only now getting back into the habit of drawing again, and will soon pick up a paint brush when I feel that I'm ready. I am focusing on studies, and drawing items over and over again. My main focus is to re-learn, become re-acquainted with the tools and materials, and to study from life. That is the only way I will get better, and catch up for time lost. 
5. Personal soapbox: 

I tend to find that many people in the art scene are not artists; they don't take their art seriously, they don't practice, they don't want to learn, and they don't want to get better. Fleshing out the same things repeatedly, without any effort, is not learning; for example, paintings shouldn't be started and finished in thirty minutes (notorious amongst acrylic painters), and no one should start and finish five paintings in a day. They're not going to be good—period. They're certainly not going to be as good as they could be, if more time and effort was put into them. Art isn't a race, and to respect it, people need to stop treating it as though it were. 
Art is hard work, and so many “artists” don't put in the work to actually be artists. The label gets used, abused, and tossed around, because it's easy to do so. I never see anyone walk around and say, “I'm an accountant”, and then not actually do any sort of accounting. People tend to think anything can be art, and that anyone can be an artist. Just like music has a theory, art has a theory, and just like music has rules, so does art. Music theory is nothing but mathematics and equations, and not surprisingly, art is nothing but mathematics and equations. In order to be a successful artist, you have to know the rules. If you want to make distorted, abstract art, you have to know how to break the rules properly. So many artists jump right into art, and don't know what they're doing. Art isn't about putting down “whatever feels right”. There are rules, which actually make it easier to make art, since art doesn't rely on instinct—there is a scientific basis. Knowing the rules = better art. Practicing (with effort) = better art. Drawing the same thing repeatedly = boring, but absolutely necessary in learning how to draw it properly. 
While in university, it was saddening to see so many students create portfolios with absolutely no effort or talent. I remember in the life-drawing class, many students kept making the same mistakes, acknowledged the mistakes they were making, and kept making them. They didn't measure proportions, even though they knew they should have—they didn't put in the effort to learn, or get better. I worked hard in the life-drawing class, because the opportunity to draw a model from life is difficult to come across in this town. In other classes, though, I found myself not putting forth the effort. I wasn't trying hard enough in my work outside of university, either; I was following the cycle many others fall victim to, and don't get out of. Then again, in a town like this, it seems to me that there is no reason to try, because there is nothing to compete with, and there are no high standards or expectations—very few people actually try, and it seems no one expects you to. It's a harsh truth, but it is the truth, and more people need to hear it. With better education, informative ateliers, and working together, the artists in this town could rival artists in other major art-concentrated cities. If we all put in the work, it can happen, and with the art scene expanding, it needs to happen. 

[Ed. note: Vesper is currently focusing on master work studies, creating Art Nouveau style pieces, and costume work for an upcoming Celtic project. Keep your eyes peeled for more from this fashionable artist--coming soon.]

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