Excerpts from interview with Bill Ramsey, Art Creations


What part of the creative process do you find most exciting or engaging? When I’m looking through old photographs and the perfect one steps up and slaps me across the face and says, “It’s me. You’re looking for me.” It’s enough to make me call my wife in to show it to her and to stop work on the painting of the last pic that slapped me so that I can start on the new painting immediately.

Tell me how you create a new work — the process, the materials, the worktable, your timetable. I usually stumble across some cool pic and it goes from there. Next, a couple of rounds of sketching. Even on my smaller paintings I usually print an acetate to project so I can see how an image will layout on the panel. Sometimes I have to do this a few times until I get the composition right. Then I sketch out the shapes onto the panel and then paint. I paint with my drawing table flat, which everyone thinks is weird. But, that’s how I do it. Again, going from light to dark, mixing each color in the same pail as I go.

Do you prefer to work in the quiet, or with music or other sounds in the air? Music, music, music — all the time. I try to match the mood of the music to the time of day. If it’s light out, it’s uptempo, anywhere from The Clash and Ramones to Kasabian and Eagles of Death Metal. At night, it’s Morphine and Miles Davis to … I don’t know, XX and Fever Ray. If I’m working on a painting of a musician, I’ll work a lot of their stuff into the playlist. Hank Williams Sr. was great. Bessie Smith kept me company many nights at Track 29.

What words of encouragement or wisdom would you like to share with amateur and/or emerging artists? A couple of things: There are plenty of people out there willing to stomp on your dreams; don’t be one of them. If you are inspired, follow it. Work it. Make it happen. Also, have multiple skills. Dreams don’t happen over night. Look at me; I’ll be 40 this month. I would have starved three times already if I hadn’t had some other viable skills. Find something you can do during the day to put mac and cheese on the table while you paint (or draw, or sculpt, or compose, or play or act) nights and weekends. Oh, and don’t smoke — that shit’ll kill you and it’s expensive.