Interview: Tim Strouss (Part II)

Part two of our interview with Tim Strouss…

Are there any paintings in particular that stand out to you as having either more meaning or being a big jumping off point? Maybe you learned something new?

dsc_0065Yeah, I’m sure there are. If I could go back and recount all the different things I’ve done I could probably say, ‘Oh yeah, this here had meaning because it correlates to this.’ I can’t think of anything right now.

Something I’ve learned just recently, in that I don’t know anything about art, I’m learning about the basic principles of art; which is contrast and what not, and texture. There’s one that I just did where I made swirls of texture with the paint using a different instrument and then I contrasted it with straight chalk lines. That’s really what it is, I’m learning the basics. I’m learning about contrast and balance and composition.

Somebody told me to ask you this. How does the tuna-melt factor into your inspiration?

(HA!) Eric Thompson huh! (laughs) Soooo delicious. (ed: Actually Chay Leonardo)

What materials are you using? What materials do you prefer to use at this point?

Well, the only stuff I’ve had at my disposal has been acrylic paint. I’m doing stuff with various types of paper, and then just other cheesy things. I use a fork, that carpenters snap line; and again, I saw lines in Blaise’s stuff and I really liked it, because I’ve been close to his work a lot. He does a lot of lines. I thought, how can I do lines like that, I can’t hold a ruler, I only have one hand, I can’t hold a ruler and a pencil at the same time. I guess part of that is using the snap line. Otherwise it’s just been things that I’ve been afforded, which is paper. Simple things like my mom used to do a lot of art, she had a bunch of left over paint brushes, so I’m using those. I use a palette knife a lot.

Do you work at home, do you have a small studio space setup at home, or do you go out someplace to create?

I find that I’m not so willing to just do whatever… if somebody is watching me. I start to say to myself, ‘Wait, maybe artists don’t really do this.’

#48 by Tim Strouss Umm, no, I have a small studio space at home; just a kitchen table. I’ve done a few paintings at Blaise’s studio with him, but I find that I’m a little bit self-conscious. I find that I’m not so willing to just do whatever, explore, like cutting into the canvas like I was doing if somebody is watching me. Because I start to say to myself, ‘Wait, maybe artists don’t really do this.’ So I find that I’m a little bit more subdued when I’m with someone, or at least someone that knows what to do.

So, I do enjoy being by myself a lot. That being said, there’s four little paintings I did one day in Blaise’s studio; they’re some of my favorite paintings. So is that a contradiction to what I just said? I don’t really know.

Do you have a process for getting ready to create art? As a graphic designer, I work better with a clean desk and I try to have a beverage, and sometimes it’s music and sometimes it’s not.

Not necessarily. I was telling somebody earlier; I listen to a lot of classical. So I’ll usually have that playing in the background, but at this point I don’t think there is a direct correlation to any sort of creating that I do. Pretty simple, I think at this point I’ve been encouraged to do it, I want to do it, I have a lot of time to do it, so I just jump right into it. I don’t create a space necessarily, beyond what is needed of course. So yeah, usually just music; I’m already in my kitchen, so it’s pretty simple with that one.

In creating by yourself, do you find that you’re creating for yourself or are you thinking of an audience for your work when you’re creating?

Oh that’s a good question. It’s funny, both. I’ve had enough people say, ‘Oh, I like this’… That’s a hard question to answer. Ultimately yes, obviously I create what looks good to me, but in everything I’m making there is that knowledge that sure, somebody is going to come over and say they like it or they don’t like it. So I feel like it’s a little bit of both maybe. It’s a little bit of me saying I’m creating something I ultimately would like to look at, but I know that I’m making this to hang in a public place or a wall in a public place and other people are going to be evaluating my art.

In thinking of an audience and in creating for ourselves, is there an emotional response or something specific like a mood or a concept that you are wanting to get across to your viewer?

I wouldn’t say that I’m consciously trying to communicate something. I do see it in what I’m creating, so it may be subconscious.

I would say that I’ve seen hints of that, but I haven’t been able to articulate it. I think at this point I’m looking back, that I’ve done maybe 50-60-70 paintings or something like that, not too many; it was kind of like what I said, I see something there. There’s some sort of emotion that’s conveyed in how sporadic and unpredictable it is. But no, I wouldn’t say that I’m consciously trying to communicate something. I do see it in what I’m creating, so it may be subconscious, is that what it would be? I guess, I don’t know. I mean, yes in a sense and no, I don’t have a conscious agenda to create or convey a certain concept. But I am definitely conveying something, I see that now.

Well, that’s exciting to have that context as I look at your future work. There’s something kind of voyeuristic about it because you are creating it for yourself, but I’m looking in. So it will be interesting to look back on this interview six months to a year from now, and say, ‘Okay, that’s where he was headed’, and start to see hints of that.

#57 by Tim Strouss I didn’t think of that, that’s kind of funny. That is definitely my hidden agenda if you will. I would love, I know all of the experiences I’ve had, I have a memory of the emotion I’ve experienced. When I see art, anything I’m doing, when I see that somehow I did communicate emotion in this, a part of me says, ‘I want other people to see some emotion,’ because really nobody knows how hard some of those days were for me. And nobody knows the dark times, the agony you know. And you want to be able to express that. So if I’m somehow doing that through paint or whatever medium I choose, and other people view it in that context of saying, ‘Well, there’s something here’, then there is a little bit of solace in that. There’s a little bit of, ‘Oh yeah, I’m starting to tell people how hard my days were.’ How I was close to suicide blah blah whatever else.

Nobody knows the dark times, the agony, you know, and you want to be able to express that.

So, yeah, it’s been kind of fun, I have actually been able to experience that through painting a little bit. There’s something very unspoken about what the paint communicates that brings a little bit of, ‘Oh, they get it… kind of.’ It’s very subtle, but I feel like I’m developing that ability to express. Maybe that’s what it’s all about, you know. That has been one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about painting.

Do you have any shows or exhibitions coming up?

I’ve got a small little studio show with Blaise at his studio, and he just volunteered to share his space. And then, recently, conversations have come in to my life… like my friend owns a salon and she wants to hang some stuff, my other friend says that his best friend manages the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, and they have tons of art all over now, well not tons of art but they display art. And so he’s like, ‘Yeah I’ll just talk to him.’

I feel like I’m just now entering that place where I’m like, ‘Okay, now I want to start hanging some of this stuff.’ Maybe if somebody wants to pay me for it, that would be great too. I don’t have a lot of things setup concretely now. I’ve been told a little bit about Kaleid Gallery in San Jose or even the Kulpa Gallery here. (Felix Kulpa?) Yeah, but nothing else concrete. I think some things would look very good at Verve, you know, or something like that. You always have these little visions of where you want to see your stuff hung. But, nothing totally setup right now.

One of the things I wanted to focus on with the blog, and I want to ask everybody I interview, is: what’s your perception of Santa Cruz as a town being either inviting to artists, or a town that’s difficult to be an artist in. I’m just curious as a new artist, what is your initial perception of the way it’s been received and the opportunities.

I feel like Santa Cruz, the populous of Santa Cruz, they’re very inviting of artists. Art is a welcome thing here, you see it in coffee shops, you see it downtown, music, all over, you know? They even legislate artistic stuff by the city council and whatnot. I think people are obviously very open to various types of expression.

I personally don’t see a ton of art that I really like. I do see a few artists for sure, but if I had to make a very uneducated prediction, I would say that Santa Cruz will start producing some really good artists in the future. I think Blaise’s stuff is looking great. I think, man, I can’t think of other artists right now. There was a guy that was one of Blaise’s friends, Josh something, that had really cool stuff.

Really, what do I know, but if I had to make a prediction I would say that, yeah, in the future Santa Cruz will be known for producing some good art. And that’s not a backhanded way of saying I’m going to be an artist. No, I’m just saying seriously I see stuff.

Following on from that question, what local artists inspire you? What artists would you like to see get more exposure than they do?

I don’t know too many at this point. You know, people that I know of, I personally think Dani Fox creates some pretty cool stuff. I was really exposed to different artists, literally, by that Stations of the Cross thing. I didn’t even know people did art that were artists down there. What’s his name, Adam (Greene), did the woodcut.

I was impressed by that too.

Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool.

#57 by Tim Strouss

Definitely Blaise, I think his work is… he says that he’s at a standstill, but I think that it’s totally progressing. Man, I wish I could remember last names. There was a guy who came over to the house the other night named Josh. Really nice guy, showed me his website and just had some great stuff. I personally liked it. It wasn’t a huge website, I think he only had like 10-12-15 paintings, but I liked what I saw. I think part of it was cause I saw things with lines and he said, ‘Oh yeah, I did all those freehand,’ and stuff, and it was like they were tiny little pinhole lines. I was like, ‘Wow, he did that freehand.’
A lot of artists are very hesitant to self-promote and are very hesitant to be explicit about promotion. It’s always like passive marketing.

It seems, like, cheap kind of…

Yeah. Is there a creative or tangible way that someone reading this article could have an impact on either your work or the exposure that your work receives?

I’m sure there are, because I think the logistics of my life lend to not being able to do things, though that hasn’t really been the case. Like, oh I don’t always have material, or sometimes I need a space to go and do art. Like right now I have a setup in the kitchen, but I’m outgrowing that. I have like 60 things now. So there’s nothing that I can think of that somebody reading would be able to do necessarily. I think at this place, I’m not fully comfortable being like, ‘Yeah, buy my art.’ I mean, on some practical level, sure, that would solve some problems. I need to buy materials. But it’s like, I don’t even know what I’m selling things for. I’ll be able to answer that question with more time for sure. Right now I can think of some things, but not really realistic things for readers to be able to do.

Okay, cool. Anything else you’d like to add?

I don’t think so. No, I think we’re good. I feel sufficiently expressed.

To inquire regarding the purchase of showing of Tim’s work, or to view more of Tim’s recent work, visit his website:

Back to Part I


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