This week we met New York-based artist, Cindy Press. Cindy worked for 15 years as a fashion designer, then took time off to her raise her family. She took up painting full time when her youngest daughter went away to college.
We found out what Cindy had to say…
On becoming an artist
"I can’t remember ever doing anything else but art. When I was a young child I used to come home from school and sit in my bed for hours and draw. In high school I went to a local college to take art classes on the weekends, because I could never get enough. There was never anything else I wanted to be but an artist, the challenge was to find a way to make a living doing it."
"In college I majored in Fashion Illustration because I always had a love for fashion too, so I thought that would be a good way to combine the two and hopefully be able to earn a living. I didn’t know at the time that fashion illustration was a dying field. Luckily during my senior show at Moore College Of Art And Design in Philadelphia a gentleman took an interest in my work and hired me to work as a designer for a children’s clothing company interpreting artwork from children’s books for clothing. That was the beginning of my career in fashion and I worked full time in fashion as a designer for the next 15 years."
On being an artist
"Being an artist for me is equal to breathing. It’s not really a choice but something I have to do, like eating or sleeping. I can’t imagine going through life without it. When I’m working, I do most of my soul searching and time goes very fast. I get lost in the process and that’s when I decide what I want to say with my art, that’s when I find my voice. I would consider myself a contemporary figurative and portrait artist."
On the studio
"My studio is in my home in a room we used to call the den. I have taken it over since my return to painting. It used to be a room where my children would play, or watch TV when they were young. It’s perfect for a studio because it has windows on three of the walls, so there’s tons of natural light."
"Working from home definitely has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is wonderful because I can work anytime, day or night. I can start working for a few hours, leave my studio in a mess and if I have to leave for a while I can then come back and pick up where I left off. On the other hand... there is plenty to distract me at home so I have to be very disciplined."
"Strong, beautiful, sexy women inspire me! I am constantly looking through magazines and browsing the internet for the latest fashion trends and styles."
"I’m drawn towards a look that’s clean and casual with a slight edge. It’s not only fashion images that I am inspired by, but also experiences and the idea that there is a whole history behind someone’s appearance."
"As I work on a painting the pose or expression speaks to me and I begin to find my voice and what I want to say with my work. For the viewer, this is usually evident in the title or sometimes I will use a quote in the description of the piece."
"I begin working from photographs or images I find in magazines, the Internet, Pinterest, Instagram, just about anywhere I see something that speaks to me. I use the photo as a starting point and change it to create my own interpretation. Oil paint on canvas is my medium of choice and because the drying process takes time I’m usually working on more than one painting at a time. First I make a sketch, sometimes the sketch becomes a finished piece of art as well and for these I use ink, graphite and gouache. I really love the dramatic feel of black and white so I go back and forth between working monochromatically to full color, this is probably due to boredom, I need to change it up a bit. Using a grid system I am able to enlarge my sketch onto any size canvas. As an artist I need to come up with my own ways to challenge myself and the female form does that for me. I don’t want to get caught up on always doing the same thing because I have to be known for a certain style so my one constant is the focus on women and finding new things to say with different series is the fun part."
"There are definitely times when the work flows more easily than other times. It’s frustrating for anyone in any field when this happens but I just push through it. I’ve raised two children and have been married for 25 years so I know that life is full of ups and downs and know that things have a way of turning around. I just try to stay focused and keep going."
On other artists
"Contemporary figurative and portrait artists like Elizabeth Peyton, Michael Carson or Aaron Nagel really inspire me. I love to see the endless ways in which artists can interpret the human figure. I also follow contemporary fashion illustrators like Gill Button and David Downton. I am always finding new artists that I love!"
On role models
"My two daughters aged 20 and 23, are my role models! I feel they have it so much harder than I had it, at their age. There is so much competition and pressure out there today with education, jobs and relationships. I watch how my girls handle the world they’ve inherited from us and I am in awe. I admire them and try to learn from them."
"I live in White Plains New York, a suburb 30 minutes from New York City. It’s a perfect location, close to enough to the city but quiet enough at the end of the day."
"I live by the philosophy that everyone should find something they love to do and work really hard at it and the rest will fall into place. This philosophy seems to be working for me so far."
"I joined Artfinder in January 2015. As soon as I posted work on Artfinder it started to sell. I now paint full time and have sold 40 paintings through Artfinder to collectors all over the world. Artfinder has changed my life! I’ve discovered that there are more people than I ever imagined who love and buy art, and Artfinder has made it possible for us all to connect with each other."
On the future
"I am also working on two new series right now, the first is called “Bloom” and is a series of portraits of women with flowers where I am exploring ways in which we become better people. The second is a series inspired by wonderful photographers that I have found through Instagram and with their permission I will be reinterpreting their work."