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Six of the Best, Part 9

Part 9 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8). Today's artist is painter Abigail Markov, who lives in Florida.


"Release," oil on canvas, 24" x 12", 2012


Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Abigail Markov: I work predominantly oils. Sometimes I throw in oil pastels, charcoal and resin. I love the smell, the feel, the texture, the flexibility, the seemingly limitless possibility I find with oils. And, of course, the mouth-watering, intense, brilliant, century-withstanding color that is a hallmark of oils.


Philip Hartigan: What piece are you currently working on?

Abigail Markov: Actually, I'm almost always working on several, though in various stages. Granted, I have one that's my baby, one I am working on intently at any given time. As of right now, that baby would be the one I just finished a painting today: “It Was a Good Dream.” It turned out to be a significant (to me!) piece on a few levels and was an experiment with the power of the unfinished in representational work. This feeling forced to finish has been something I've struggled with and part of why I have, to date, hated painting representational work so much.


"It Was a Good Dream," oil and oil pastel on canvas, 12" x 24", 2012

Philip Hartigan: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

Abigail Markov: Well, it was a great surprise to discover the extent of the effect of allowing myself to say done when I was no longer held in thrall by a painting. It was intimidating as hell to do it, to give myself permission to not finish, but I have found that I rather like giving myself permission, the freedom, to not finish a piece, to work on what holds my interest, while it holds my interest, and leave it be, pronounce it finished, once it hits the point where I am no longer interested. There is a joy in the work that has been waning for a while, and relief too; a return to the temporarily lost innocent enthusiasm that I had when I started, and when I start new ideas. There is a surprising renewal of my love and a deepening of my passion for my work as a result of cutting myself some slack on that front - a much needed thing! It's kinda like being given permission to eat only the things you like best on your plate and leave the stuff you don't want, or to just eat dessert. And when it comes to relief, that helps tremendously with creative flow, but I think it also comes from not forcing myself to see the world, things, in ways I don't naturally see them. Which reminds me of some of the best advice I have ever been given as an artist, from another artist (who also happens to be my mother, Helen H. Markow), about what constitutes good art, a good artist, the reason for creating, what you should strive for - which is, simply put, a unique, courageous, authentic voice of your own, and the only way you find that is to chase what holds your interest, what excites you, what you love. Chase what you love most to find your most authentic voice.

Philip Hartigan: What other artistic medium (or non-artistic activity) feeds your creative process?

Abigail Markov: Oh, MUSIC. I live and breathe music. What I listen to varies - it can be anything from heavy metal to boy bands to opera - but I'm rarely without my headphones, or the volume below 80%. Other than that, driving helps me reset, and clear out the cobwebs, and so does cleaning the studio.

Philip Hartigan: What's the first ever piece of art you remember making?

Abigail Markov: The first one I remember actually creating would be one my mother still has framed in red, hanging in her kitchen. It's oil pastels on something like newsprint, or a kid drawing pad most likely. The paper is yellow as anything now. I clearly remember at the time trying to draw a flower with a sun and grass and such, but my flower would not cooperate, and the petals were not all the same size and each time I tried to correct them, my hand would go too far one way or the other - it frustrated me to no end at the time. Eventually I up and turned it into a bunny. Strangely enough, it's a rather good abstract expressionist bunny, considering I was maybe five at the time.


"The Beginnings of Courage," oil on canvas, 24" x 12", 2012

Philip Hartigan: Finally, and you can answer this in any way that's meaningful to you: why are you an artist?

Abigail Markov: You know, there is only one major difference between being an artist and being a politician; both are trying to sell to those around them a world, a vision, an idea, a concept that exists only in their head, a world that only they can see. The difference between an artist and a politician is that the artist is not delusional enough to believe that this world does or should exist in reality for anyone else and is content with simply sharing it with those who want to know.

I am an artist because I am not a politician - because there is this world inside my head and heart that I want to share with others, but that I in no way believe or think exists in reality for anyone else.

That, and yeah, I'm not sure how not to be an artist.


If you liked this interview, and you'd like to keep up to date with the series, why not Subscribe, or sign-up via Google Connect, using one of the options over on the right? Thanks, and keep creating.

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