Interview with Eric Zener
Date posted: November 6, 2010
Interview with Eric Zener | Published in Issue #15
CM: Tell us something about you: I live in Mill Valley, California (just outside of San Francisco) with my wife and three kids. I have a great studio near my home surrounded by the water, beach and sailboats. I have been a full time artist (oil painter) for 20 years. When I am not painting I love hiking, swimming and spending time with friends and family.
CM: Why illustration? What’s illustration for you? When you say illustration I am assuming you mean figurative painting..? I enjoy realism and the combination of both the technical challenge and the narrative of the figure.
CM: When and how did you start painting? Why did you choose oil on canvas as your work technique? I was exposed to art and painting at an early age within my family. I started in acrylic but discovered oils soon after. I love the translucent quality, how they handle light and the they have ability to blend wet into wet.
CM: Some people say that you are a photorealistic artist. How you define yourself your artistic style? At a quick glance my work appears to be “photorealistic” however in person, up close, they really feel like “paintings” – full of imperfections and the visible signs of the human hand. The allegorical nature of my work, and how I use water as a metaphor for transfor- mation and renewal, has been described as “Contemporary Renaissance”.
CM: Could you tell us how do you create the paintings? Which processes do you need to do? I use photographs as a loose start- ing point, or reference, for a pose. I have models in swimming pools and I take their picture. I use the photo only to capture their pose, the rest is created in the painting process and is from my imagination.
CM: We know that in 2003 you were living in Costa Brava, Spain. As we are from Costa Brava and we live in Costa Brava, we’d love if you could explain us some of your experience there and we’d like to know if you received influences of this place in some way. The Costa Brava is a very dear and special place for my family and I. We first came to Camallera in 1999 for a stu- dio exchange with Regina Saura. She and her husband lived and painted in my studio in San Francisco, and we stayed in their home for 3 months. We fell in love with the land and people. Luckily, and ironically, the following year I won the Becca De La Primavera in Saint Marti De Empuries. So, we of course returned and lived and painted there for 4 months in the Casa Forestal. Again, we loved the people, land and sea so much that we moved back in 2003. This time to Girona where I had a nice studio and made many great friends. I am not Spanish (or Catalan- :)), but truly feel such a bond and connection with your wonderful culture.
CM: What kind of connection do you find between water and people? We are of water, from water and universally drawn to water to sustain, cleanse and find joy in. I think the egali- tarian aspect of the beach and bathing together in the sea is a beautiful part of humanity. Water also acts as a portal to a nostalgic bridge to our youth; when life was more carefree. When we are submerged, for only a moment, the world above drifts away….
CM: If you couldn’t be an illustrator, what would you be? A teacher
CM: How do you see yourself in ten years from now? The same…only even less hair!
CM: Do you have any advices for new emerging artists? My advice is to work very hard and to stay focused on your dream and your art. I know a lot of great young artists that spend more time thinking and talking about what they want to paint, than actually painting. Nothing is better than just rolling up your sleeve and getting to work. Paint, paint and then paint again. Your true voice will only emerge through working in the studio.
Eric Zener website: ericzener.com