American artist Lee Price paints photographs of women and food. Working with her photographer Tom Moore, the images are painstakingly reproduced using oil on linen canvas’ to create a soft milky tenderness to a series of works exploring the deeper aspects of feminine nature. In this line of work, Lee develops her ideas by focusing on the nurturing traits conditioned in women to look after the needs of others before tending to their own. Continuing her observation of feminine conditions through this singular technique, Lee talked to Dazed Digital about the process…
Dazed Digital: How did you begin painting?
Lee Price: For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to making art. Even in kindergarten I knew that I wanted to grow up and do something in that field. My mother was a high school art teacher and I’m sure that had some influence on me. I started art school as an illustration major then switched to painting after the first year. I’ve been painting ever since.
DD: What materials do you use and why?
Lee Price: I use oil paint and rarely any medium. I like the thickness of the straight paint. On occasion I use a touch of linseed, primarily if I’m glazing (which lately, is almost never). I work on primed linen. I’ve been asked why I use oil paint before and I can’t come up with a better answer than I just wouldn’t think to use anything else.
DD: How would you describe your work?
Lee Price: My paintings are self-portraits. In most of my paintings, what I want to get across is a sense of distraction. How we grasp for things that distract us from being present when the present is too uncomfortable for us to sit with. How this "checking out" (or compulsion) often creates more harm than if we had just sat with the discomfort in the first place. I think the best ones show not only the negative aspects of this behavior but also the comfort that's found in doing it... and the absurdity of it.
In regard to women/food issues, I think that many women are brought up, both through our immediate families and through society, to nurture others at the expense of our own needs. We hide our appetites, not just for food but in many areas of our lives, and then consume in secret. In some of my most recent works the women seem to be coming out of the closet, eyeing the viewer - not censoring their hunger.
DD: What motivates you?
Lee Price: My ideas. I think that is what all art is about. You have something to say and you’ve learned a way of saying it and you feel like you HAVE to say it. One of my favorite quotes is “the more person, the more universal”. So I have an idea that seems so personally important. What I’ve found is that I put it out there and so many others resonate with it. It’s a way of connecting with people.
DD: What are you working on at the moment?
Lee Price: I have been working on a new body of work for an upcoming exhibit at Evoke Contemporary gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s a continuation of the women/food theme. However, I recently came across photographer Carla Van De Puttalaar’s Cranach series. It’s a series of full-length female nudes. The women are set against a black background and seem to be floating. It completely captivated me and has inspired me to begin a group of paintings of female nudes that are not self-portraits. I’ve always had trouble painting other women so I’m interested to see how this will work out.
DD: What do you do when you’re not painting?
Lee Price: At the moment, I’m spending 70+ hours a week in my studio. It doesn’t leave much down time. However, I live in the Hudson Valley which is surrounded by the most beautiful mountains. My favorite thing to do in my off time is to hike. Many of the trails have steep ascends so within 20 or 30 minutes you have a spectacular view of the Hudson River Valley. Not surprisingly, my second favorite thing to do is cook…