What are your earliest memories of art? How did you become an artist yourself?
Matt: My earliest memory of art occurred when I was 3 or 4. My mother hired her brother, my Uncle Phil, to paint my bedroom and I asked him to paint some cowboys on the wall, which he flatly refused.
I was influenced by my mother, who informed me of beauty by pointing out the striking scenes of factory buildings in the sunset or dilapidated buildings and tenements silloueted in the light of the sky.
Janet: I have no idea why, but when I was quite young, maybe six years old, I started asking my mother for paint. It was a sort of desperate need. I really don’t know where it came from but there are many artists in my family, including my father. I have an early memory of my cousin showing me how to color many shades of blue with just one crayon. I remember it impressed me as being quite beautiful.
What has been your evolution as an artist?
Matt: Drawing was the initial expression of my desire to create something valid. It continued and threaded its way through the different mediums and styles that I used. Painting emerged as a way to decorate the drawing but I never really overcame my love for line.
Janet: One of the greatest and most difficult things about being an artist is that there is no end to the artistic evolutionary process. We can always grow and learn and change and there will always be struggles as well as accomplishments as long as we continue the evolutionary process.
Are there any artists who have inspired and influenced you in your work? If so, who are they?
Matt: I have been inspired mostly by artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Pablo Picasso.
Janet: Matt and I met through a recognition of a similarity in our work. Working closely and collaborating with another artist has offered incredible challenges, growth and inspiration. These real experiences and practices, such as drawing together daily, keeps the process alive.
Can you describe your process for creating a work of art? Are there any colors that you particularly like using?
Matt: I start with a desire to compose by letting go of the control to define a specific form and concentrate on a feeling of universal harmony that encompasses all things.
Janet: I don’t have one way of beginning a painting. There are several methods that I use. One of my favorite methods, which I share with my students, is to start with a color study and let the process reign over any preconceived ideas.
I enjoy being surprised by what colors emerge in the process. It depends on my mood, the season, the supplies at hand. I tend toward cool colors with warm accents.
You both do abstract and representational work. Can you talk about your interest in both and is there one that you prefer?
Matt: My interest in figurative work stems from my desire to copy beauty from real life, although it metamorphosises into a feeling rather than a depiction of something I saw. The abstract is something I saw or something I’m seeing right from the beginning.
Janet: My interest in figurative work is in transcending subject matter to create beauty in two dimensions, rather than three dimensional illusion. I believe there is warmth and human connection in having something recognizable in a painting but it is very difficult to maintain a feeling of two dimensions if we focus too much on subject rather than composition. I use the lines expressed in observational drawing to inform my abstract work and allow the abstract techniques to dominate in figurative painting.
Where do you see your work going from here?
Matt: I can’t even fathom where it’s going nor do I have any desire to know until it happens.
Janet: I'd like to see my work go into the Louvre or at least the Art Institute of Chicago!