The following two-part interview is with Brian Blood and Laurie Kersey, both wonderfully accomplished artists who are invited artists in this year’s Door County Plein Air Festival. Their awards are many and their work is in multiple galleries throughout California.
Even though you can see accompanying images to this interview and go to the Peninsula Pulse online (DoorCountyPulse.com), I urge you to go to the artists’ websites to see just how visually stunning their work is. Brian’s site is brianblood.com and Laurie’s site is lauriekersey.com. I spent several hours just looking at both their sites enjoying how each, in their own distinctive way, interprets a subject. Enjoy.
Randy Rasmussen (RR): You both live in the most beautiful places I have ever been. I played Pebble Beach in the late eighties and it was one of the few times I couldn’t concentrate on the golf, the scenery was so incredible.
Laurie Kersey (LK): Yes, the natural beauty of the area is one of the main reasons that we live here. It’s no accident! There is a lifetime’s worth of painting material right out our door. It’s not only beautiful but quite diverse: there’s everything from sandy beaches and rocky coastal bluffs to forests, rolling hills and farmland – all within 15-20 minutes.
Brian Blood (BB): I can’t disagree with you, we do live in an exceptionally beautiful area and a perfect area for an artist to live and work. Some of my favorite spots and most frequently painted are no more than 15 minutes from my front door. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park, Carmel Beach and the many spots in Pacific Grove, Monterey and Pebble Beach provide us with endless opportunities. The nice thing is that we can and often do go back to the same spots and paint them over and over again. Because each time there’s something different about the scene. Don’t feel bad – my golf game too suffers by my being distracted by the visual beauty around me.
RR: Both of you were graphic artists before you became fine artists. Did either of you have difficulty making the transition?
LK: No. I had moved from graphic design and art direction to freelance illustration before switching to fine art so the shift from an office-type situation to working on my own had already happened. I am by nature a pretty disciplined person so I have no problem being my own boss. I’m actually probably the toughest boss I’ve had! When I was working in commercial art, I was already painting on the side and had already found my way into a few small galleries so the transition happened pretty smoothly.
BB: I never really liked being a graphic designer. I mean, it was fine at the time but I never really felt right. I always wanted to do more with the jobs I was working on but wasn’t really able to because as a designer, you’re really working for someone else and not yourself. Upon making the transition, which didn’t happen overnight, I really began to enjoy creating my own art and luckily the public responded. I was in the right places at the right times it seemed. I met and was able to learn from great people and they helped guide me along and I went into good galleries, many of whom I’m still with today. But it’s still a business and has to be run as such; you have to be disciplined and motivated, seek out opportunities and work hard at your craft each day to succeed.
RR: Laurie, do you remember drawing as a child and when you did your first painting?
LK: I do remember drawing with crayons as a child. I have always loved animals and I can remember that the other kids would ask me to draw them a horse. I must have been six or seven. And I still love to paint horses! All kids draw and paint but for some reason most people eventually stop. I just never stopped. I always enjoyed drawing and moved on to just about every other conceivable medium after crayons – pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, scratchboard, airbrush (very cool in the 70s!). I think my first oil painting was around age 13 or 14, a squirrel on a tree stump.
RR: Brian, do you remember your first painting and when you progressed to oil?
BB: I can’t say I remember my first painting, but I remember my early works. I still have my old portfolios from the first art school I attended (Vesper George School of Art in Boston) and it’s great to pull them out and remember back 35 years ago to those days. I do remember early oils from the summers when I’d go to Cape Cod and paint the area. They were clumsy and poorly thought out attempts but at the time I was proud of them. I can’t say the same now however. Having a long and strong art education and over 30 years of painting under your belt has helped move my work forward.
RR: Do you both look at the same scene/location and see different subjects to paint?
LK: Yes, there was an article written about that (Plein Air Magazine, “Painting Side by Side,” December 2005). We often go painting outdoors together and sometimes we’ll paint the same general scene but react to different aspects of it. Sometimes we’ll go to a location together but end up painting in different directions. Other times one of us will want to go to a certain place and the other one just doesn’t see a subject there that appeals to them. And it’s the same with any other artist that you go out painting with – we all filter input through our own experiences and instincts and end up reacting to different things.
RR: Brian, I have read several critics describe your work as meticulous. They mention how careful you are in selecting what you are going to paint. How do you select your subject?
BB: I think the simple answer is that it has to interest me. When I was teaching in San Francisco, I used to tell my classes that they should be able to paint a crappy old dumpster and make it into a great painting. That’s what artists do, we take what everyone sees and may just idly pass by and make a great painting out of it.
RR: Laurie, in one of the interviews you did, you describe the moment when it was “no more office work.” You were passionate about painting. Can you describe this moment for our readers?
LK: I don’t recall the interview you’re referring to but I had certainly had it with commercial art. The objective in commercial art is painting to please someone else (the client) and the joy of fine art is painting to please yourself. The irony is, of course, that being a professional artist is a business and there is still office work to be done. Alas, here I sit at the computer even now, doing office work!