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american outsider art Jesse Reno

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Often it isn't until a painting is almost completely finished that I understand its meaning."
Jesse Reno

american outsider artist American Outsider Artist

outsider artist interview

Jesse Reno Artist Interview - April 2005

1 ::: Why are you an artist Jesse?

I am an artist kind of by default, I see and act on things instinctually... my mind is always running with ideas, and I'm anxious as I wait to act on them.. if I didn't create I think my shoulders would implode from the stress of inactivity. I've always been this way. Since I could use a pencil I've been obsessed with drawing.

+2 ::: Could you tell us some more about your paintings?

I approach painting with random intentions to give a sense of natural order.. its integral to my process, as well as my intentions. I attempt to find meaning through separating myself from my thoughts and then following them through with my actions. I generally work on 5 to 10 paintings at all times so I can jump between them all, and stay busy. I try not to get too caught up with any one piece until it nears its end. I feel this keeps my self editing more honest, it keeps me from getting too attached to one idea, and allows me to move on to follow rather than lead my thoughts. This is what I strive for more than anything in process, following what I see. I generally work on pieces in many small sessions so my assessments are new and fresh each time I sit down to work a piece. In the final stages I tend to make sense of the imagery and add any final touches. Through the process of following, I feel I work through problems as well as learn about myself by making free visual expressions and associations of my feelings. Often it isn't until a painting is almost completely finished that I understand its meaning.

+3 ::: You seem to be a very prolific painter, and your works seem to be filled with intense emotion. Is painting like a release for you or is it emotionally draining?

Painting is a real release for me, I have so much energy I need to get out. It helps me work through my thoughts while staying more occupied on painting than thinking, this keeps me from running in too many circles. I try to keep things as random as I can until I find my focus accidentally, it makes mistakes just as relevant as purpose.. this makes letting go easy. In the event that I catch my self obsessing or frustrated with a piece I general paint over everything that isn't working and start over from this point. Letting go and destroying a painting always leads to a reborn mess of color that shows itself, you cant act with true expression and find nothing. Its moments like this that cant help but make me trust the ideas of randomness and persistence.

+4 ::: What artists have influenced you, and how?

The artists that have influenced me most have been close friends. Its more our conversations and assessments then looking at there work. One of my closest friends Chris Giordani, has been a huge influence on my entire approach and drive. One of the most important things he said to me is "paint and if you don't like it paint over it." By watching his methods and talking about them I feel I learned everything that has lead me to what I know as a painter. Free expression is true expression. True expression is undeniable. This is what I saw in his work from the first moment I saw it, this is what I strive for.

+5 ::: What other interests do have (besides painting)?

I also make music, I play guitar, bass, drum machines, synths, record players, and samplers. I record and produce various music projects in the studio by myself as well as with friends. I play live electronic music under the name kidspecial. I also play guitar with various live musicians, generally in improvisational settings. I like to approach music in the same way I approach painting, by playing in the moment and following the sounds around me until it makes sense.

+6 ::: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

I'm inspired by anxious energy, and passing thoughts, just about anything can cue me want to paint. Even the act of not wanting to paint can drive me, the challenge of pushing myself through it. The act of being frustrated has brought me to some of my favorite works. I'll have one of those days where I just don't want to do anything and I'll push myself to paint, totally frustrated and unhappy I push out a painting that catches the feeling perfectly on accident. I'll totally disregard it and go on with my mood, eventually I'll get back to it and realize what I've done. One moment like this will motivate me for the rest of the day...

+7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

I've handled the business side much like the art side.. I try to deal with galleries, shop owners and people I respect that way no matter how the show turns out I'm happy.. anytime you find yourself working or acting just out of money, the worth of the outcome can only be reduced to money. So I try to remain as far from this as possible. This could destroy any artist. Popular opinions can lead you to things that have nothing to do with yourself, and this is an empty feeling. I try to price my work as fair as possible, I try to put it at a range I can afford. Its all priceless and worthless at the same. Higher priced paintings follow my own personal scale of attachment.. I keep creation separate from business by trying to stay at least a month ahead on work, this way whatever I'm creating today has no sense of sale. Along with that I realize there are too many paintings in my house to keep so I know I have to sell them or eventually there will be no room to live. This intern pushes me to get my work up any where I can, from coffee shops, to fine art galleries, street fairs, tattoo shops, and the Internet. The bulk of my actual sales comes from the Internet through my website, so this is very empowering I'm free to show as many paintings as I want without waiting for a gallery to hang my work. I'm also left free to create, without ever having the feeling I need to critic my work for a specific gallery or market.

+8 ::: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I don't know where to say I'll be in ten years but as far as I can see into the future I will be creating and learning from my creations.

+9 ::: Could you talk about your latest series of paintings and what you are trying to achieve with them?

My latest series of paintings is entitled - THE NATURE OF MAN... All that is specific to human kind -


Man separates himself from all other species, he uses his sense of consciousness to claim righteousness and self importance within the animal kingdom. He controls cages and consumes any species of animal in anyway he sees fit. For pleasure power ego and exploitation. To do so he avoids his own consciousness by learning to lie to himself, he uses all his creations to distance himself from responsibility for the actions that his conscious deems wrong. Along the way he creates right and wrong to justify his actions and control the actions of other who might threaten him. He creates a god in his own image to take ultimate responsibility for those things he would rather not claim, religion is mans ultimate scapegoat. Man creates angels and devils to guide him in an attempt to keep his lying conscious from getting him into too much trouble, and to blame for the actions he himself can not excuse.. He seeks to control and secure his life at every turn believing he deserves more with each new day. He works and saves to achieve more and more control over his life, he follows trends and ideas through popular opinion, he uses the opinions of the masses to secure his sense of righteousness. He then builds on these ideas to further separate himself from nature and even the rest of mankind.. All along caging himself, feeling more and more alone, feeling more and more afraid and confused with the world around him.. Fighting wars he does not understand. Paying taxes to a system he knows only as empire.. Breaking down all that is around him in terms of money class control ownership laws morals rules and gods all created and explained by his surroundings. When and if he stops to think for himself he will realize he is responsible for his own entrapment, and the animals he thinks he is above are free making all decisions based on personal instinct. The only true right or wrong. A personal decision made out of basic survival.

+10 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

I think my biggest point of advice for painters just starting out is "paint, and if you dont like what youve painted, paint over it until you do."

More artist information can be found at the website of the artist.. Jesse Reno
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