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Six of the Best, Part 29: Stella Untalan

Continuing the interview series in which I pose the same six questions to artists, writers, and other creative people. Today's interview is with Stella Untalan, whose stunning works on paper caught my eye one time on Google Plus. You can see more of her work here.
soundings #2, matte vinyl paint, graphite, and white drafting ink on 22 x 30 Rives BFK White, drawing 6.5" x 13", 2012

PH: What medium do you chiefly use, and why? 

SG: I’ve recently returned to drawing with inks. For the past several years my drawings were made with pastels and graphite. Almost all of my work is on paper, museum quality board or synthetic papers like Yupo. My paper of choice is Rives BFK. I use traditional drawing tools but am very interested in using tools co-opted from untraditional sources. These are essential to discovering different ways to create new mark vocabularies.

PH: What piece are you currently working on?

SG: Right now I have 5 or 6 projects underway--I can’t work on one at a time, it’s not in my nature. I am working on two series of large drawings ( 22 x 30 inches ). Each series consists of nine drawings. I work on an entire series at once. For both of these I’m making tonal rhythms using intaglio inks, creating rhythmic marks with brayers. The results have surprised me. I’m not sure where they are going from here. Then I have a series of collages based the forms and tonal aspects of typography. So far the project name is alphabet collage; there will be at least twenty-six of them. I'm also working on an altered book project, three single sheet books for an exhibition called Ritual, and a plein air drawing under the influence of the river project.
waiting for a wave
ink and pencil on rag vellum : 12" x 6", 2010

PH: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

SG: I never know what will happen with the drawings. Every mark I make is a surprise. Recently, I've increased the size of my drawings, increasing the space in which I draw. For the past several years many of my drawings haven’t exceeded 14 x 17 so making the leap drawings that take up a 22 x 30 sheet is monumental. Paradoxically, this was spurred by my 2012 drawing-a-day project where small iPhone drawings somehow had a feeling of substantial scale. Moving my current vocabulary to a larger space has been challenging. Now new tools and new marks have found their way into my work. I find myself really drawing without any concern for results, totally caught up in process. I find myself being even more experimental.

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

SG: I’m not a full-time artist. My professional work is information architecture. This feeds my investigations of vocabularies and the referential nature of repetitive marks. I love to read poetry. I find poetry to have a direct relationship with my drawing. I love its rhythm and abstractness.

new unfinished work
intaglio ink and casein paint on 22 x 30 Rives BFK White, 2013

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

SG: I’m not sure which was the first but I can remember being reprimanded in grade school, I think I was seven or eight, for drawing when I should have been paying attention to my academic subjects. I would make still life drawings all day long. I also made lots of comic books. I love graphic narrative.

PH: Finally, and you can answer this in any way you want: why are you an artist?

SG: I’m compelled to make art. I don’t necessarily want to make it. I just have to.

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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