What is the first thing that you think or do when you wake up in the morning?
“The first thing I think is “don’t look at the phone” and then the next thing I think “Why are you looking at your phone?” and tea. Good English Breakfast tea is essential for me.”
What makes you whole?
“Seeing and experiencing more. What I want most of all is to satisfy some curiosity. Even if I only understand whatever has my attention for just a moment. A lived life is made of personal growth.”
Was there a pivotal moment or experience in your life when you decided to pursue art as a career?
“This is an interesting question for me… because I don’t have the moment from childhood or college to share that one would usually expect. Some Aha moment. Going into the arts was not an unnatural thing. The real pivot, in some ways, happened 10 years ago. Ten years ago, we had our daughter, Jane, and she was born with some profound medical problems. The first year of her life was the most tenuous. While we were struggling to keep her alive, knowing of her uncertain future, I realized that I couldn’t parent a child with her needs while also both doing some commercial work and painting as a fine artist. Parenting a child with special needs is unyielding. Anything that was remotely commercial, I pushed away. I refocused on what mattered the most to me, and it came down to parenting and painting.
Do you have any personal reflection you would like to share about life in “quarantine,” or how you have experienced recent times as an artist?
“Because of our experiences with our daughter, we are accustomed to the anxieties that many appear to just now be experiencing. It has been very disruptive, and we are muddling through like everyone else. We are trying to be gentle with ourselves and forgive ourselves in the midst of this time.
I have heard people say that they are upset that they have not used this time more productively and I can’t help but laugh. It is unreasonable to set high expectations for yourself in the midst of real social unrest and a pandemic. Again, some forgiveness of self is important.”
Could you tell me about your relationship with the medium you are using to paint flowers for this exhibition?
“I have been working in oils almost as long as I have been painting. I use it because it is powerful and capricious – it is going to do what it is going to do sometimes. I need that. I need to be surprised.”
Could you say something about what qualities you are looking for in your painting?
“Most of all, Sincerity. It is a good part of what makes a better painting or drawing. The best painting happens when you are opening yourself up, being vulnerable. It is an act of love of some kind. If you let yourself go to a place of intuition, deep enough that you are connecting with the subject, others will connect with both you and the subject.”
What is a flower?
“A flower is the quintessential piece of nature. The fireworks of nature. They are fleeting and ferocious, perfect, and also imperfect. They are all of that. I love their geometry, and how precise they are in their beautiful construction. And how incessant they are. A flower is life trying to continue. They are a metaphor made real. There is as much in a flower as you wish to see there.”
What made you want to participate in this exhibition?
“It just made sense. In the midst of a pandemic, what else am I going to do? As an artist, in the midst of strife or ease, we are going to paint. We may not be particularly happy in the middle of a pandemic, but beauty is not happiness.”
Why is this meaningful to you, and what do you seek to communicate in these works?
Speaking about daffodils One and Two, Scott says, “So often what we do as artists is try to pour everything we have into one painting. But of course, that is silly, we can’t say everything in one painting. By painting we are trying to understand things. Painting the same subject more than once allows for the opportunity to grow in my understanding of the subject and try to make different kinds of paintings…To me the best paintings are, as I mentioned earlier, those made where you are making a sincere effort to understand and see. It’s not about proving how good you are. If there isn’t that sincere motivation, if it is more about demonstrating how awesome they are as a painter, I am not as drawn to it.”
Scott, tell me about why you teach.
“I find it very satisfying and, as someone married to a public school teacher, it’s become clear that some people are just wired to be teachers. Mostly, I tend to think of it as helping others, and there’s not much more rewarding than helping someone (whatever the need). There’s a great joy in watching people figure things out but, in a sense, so much of what I am doing as a teacher is just giving people permission to be themselves. Creating and sharing things is such a big part of what we do as humans, but we take something that can already be difficult and make it even harder.”
To see Scott’s work in While We Were Still…Flowers Bloomed, click here.