Name and Year: Becky Bailey, 2012
Hometown: Mendham, NJ
Major: Fine Arts
Medium of Choice: Oil Paint
Street: How long does it take you to create a painting? Where does the process start and what is it like?
Becky Bailey: It can take as long as a semester or as short as a few weeks. Usually I start with the very broad idea of conveying a moment within a story. I ultimately want that moment to be strange, odd, uncanny, or just plain weird for the viewer. With that in mind, I gather sources from all over. I make a lot of small oil sketches, decide which ones have the most potential for the feeling that I want to have happen, and then use them as my source for a large-scale painting. As I’m painting, things change. I get new ideas, need more source material, fret about making decisions, make bad decisions, rethink my life, and paint more. It’s a vicious cycle.
Street: Of your pieces, which is your favorite?
BB: I have love-hate relationships with most of my paintings. I cycle through wanting to vomit all over them and then lovingly stroking their surfaces. I think my painting of The Woods is my favorite at the moment. I made it in the spring and it was the first time I really felt inventive. I like how much it transformed from beginning to end.
Street: Do you have any favorite artists? Role Models?
BB: I looked a lot at Peter Doig, a contemporary painter, last semester. I like the way he always changes up his paint language, never settling into one specific hand. He combines figuration and abstraction in an awesome way. Not to mention his stuff is pretty strange. I like Kandinsky for similar reasons. Titian, a Renaissance painter, might be a role model, not least because he was court artist for the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire for awhile. He was just kept around by Charles V and paid to make epic paintings: clearly a boss.
Street: Do you usually listen to music while you work? If so what kind?
BB: Right now I’m into bluegrass. I’ve been listening to a lot of Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth. I’ve also been into Talking Heads. I listen to a lot of different types of music, but I always go back to Phish, Frank Zappa, and The Grateful Dead. Those bands have produced and performed so much, the listening options are endless. I typically don’t listen to techno or pop because I just end up jumping around and raging. Not very productive.
Street: What is the most frustrating/challenging thing for you when you’re painting? How do you clear your mind?
BB: The paintings are always in flux, so usually the challenge is making the next move. It might be a decision of color or the question of whether or not to add a new object, and if so, what object? When I’m really stuck I turn to the small library of art books in my studio, looking at the painters that are piquing my interest that week, forgetting about my painting for a little bit and just figuring out why I like these artists. Just don’t tell Fisher Fine Arts I’m hoarding their collection.
Street: If you could express yourself through a different artistic medium, what would you chose and why?
BB: Dance. It could be because my only move is bending my knees and holding my solo cup in the air, but I have serious admiration for people who can express so much feeling and elegance with their bodies. The passion is right there in front of you, so present and engaging.
Street: Did you always know you wanted to do art (in general and at Penn)?
BB: I did a lot of art in high school, but mostly brushed off the idea of studying it in college. I came here thinking I would study something with “job prospects,” and maybe minor in art. After my first Fine Arts class, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Last summer I studied art in Italy, which confirmed that I want to do this forever.
Street: What do you see for yourself in the future?
BB: A dog and a studio.