Samantha Giesige’s Botanical Paintings Luxuriate in the Psychological Effects of Color [Interview]
Any art student worth their salt would recognize Samantha Giesige as a master manipulator. Her botanically inspired latex paintings luxuriate in the psychological effects of color, playing with temperature, harmony, and context just for the fun of it.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Giesige is preoccupied with formalism, reducing her works to a meditative blend of color, method, and structure. “My current painting and sculpture emerge from a predilection for pattern,” she writes in her artist statement. “Euphoric and sprightly hues are suspended within nearly symmetric silhouettes.” Her decorative works are painted with “brooding dexterity,” a technique that belies their youthful exuberance and lighthearted appeal.
Manipulator though she may be, Giesige shrewdly guides her viewers into a frenzied fever dream, one that delights in repetition as meditation, meditation as joy, and joy as an invaluable part of the human experience.
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Samantha Giesige discusses the value of collaboration over competition, how to feel OK with “unfinished work,” and finding frugal ways to keep creating.
Which books, art-related or otherwise, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Samantha Giesige: The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene.
What do you wish you learned in art school but weren’t taught?
SG: Teamwork. Most of our fires were stoked using competition, not collaboration. There wasn't a great deal of preparation for executing shared vision or how both personal and professional successes often hinge on being able to communicate with people who are not themselves artists.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?
SG: Most useful has been from my Dad. "Nothing ever ends, your relationship to it just changes nature." And the most confusing for me is probably, "Choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."
What's your biggest barrier to being an artist?
SG: The scope and variety of professional opportunities is hard to grasp on your own sometimes. But ultimately, the big barrier is anticipating a place for work to land before you let it take off.
What does generosity mean to you as an artist?
SG: A quote by Paul Gardner says, "A painting is never finished, it simply stops in interesting places." When I feel like I am being the right kind of generous with myself during production, it is when I can walk away for a moment or forever and admit I may never be certain this one was appropriately finished, but I can accept it for where it has settled. A good example are the mobile murals I have done during Franklinton Arts Urban Scrawl. It's a time-sensitive event. My ultra-meticulous, unpremeditated style isn't easy to pull off in two short intervals under the summer sun. I have to present that work whether I still feel indebted to it or not. The process has been humbling.
What does success mean to you as an artist?
SG: Success is whatever keeps you engaged. Latency can work in the right direction.
What role does the artist have in society?
SG: My longtime definition of an artist is someone who problem-solves with (tangible and intangible) materials. I believe at their most minimum, an artist makes a new puzzle out of familiar pieces. At its highest result, that helps them or another person ascend as a contributing level of spiritual scaffolding.
I think society ultimately benefits from artists because they're compelled to spend time in a rare way … a reminder of what one can do with their time and to yours. Commercially, art and entertainment is so taken for granted. The role of a creator is increasingly about ubiquitously soothing a consumer.
If you had to pick one, would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist? Why?
SG: I don't have tons of enthusiasm for how art history distills down to a few drops. Any laurels will gladly be taken during this lifetime.
What’s your relationship with money?
SG: I definitely grew up knowing the overt and hidden costs of life. I learned how to see the potential in my dad's carpentry scraps or reuse my mom's old makeup for drawing. I've shaped my studio for the last several years around discounted paint and fabric samples, recyclables, and donations. I luck into and hoard plenty of materials before I have a real plan of action. The upside of that is I feel free to play without sensing waste. The downside is a lot of things come out feeling like heavily detailed sketches. I do invest money into legitimate materials and tools. Though I get the most for my money when I travel and get inspiration from the color, life forms, and texture of uncommon environments.
Have you ever turned down an opportunity? Why?
SG: Absolutely. I have been apprehensive for foolish reasons. A few jobs never came to fruition because I really over-scrutinized my contribution or let the fear of unmet expectations commandeer my entire approach. Mostly I got ahead of myself. The kindest retrospect to take for this stuff is the quote by Jim Rohn: “If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
SG: I have inherited everything it takes to start crafting stained glass. I am looking forward to the labor but anticipate a learning curve during the construction. In the past I've loved using mosaics for portraiture, so I may leave the botanicals behind for a moment.
What do you do to maintain your mental health?
SG: I often play tennis with pickleball equipment; we call it Chupball. I've gone pro in Wii Golf. Reiki helps me stay relevant to myself. A lot of times I will get a fresh sheet of paper, dump out all my markers, and as I put each one back make a mark of some kind. I thrive on conversation and I am fortunate to have friends who indulge me with tons of meaningful and hilarious discourse and memes.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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