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vol 3 - issue 03 (nov 2000) :: untapped
UNTAPPED TALENT: MANDY COOK
interview by miss tina wells

BEFORE EVERY ARTIST GETS THEIR TURN IN THE SPOTLIGHT, THEY STRUGGLE THROUGH THEIR DAY WITH THE REST OF US. THEY WORK ODD JOBS TO MAKE ENDS MEET, WAIT PATIENTLY ON THE OCCASIONAL FREELANCE JOB, AND RELY ON WORD OF MOUTH TO GET SAID FREELANCE. THEY'RE ORDINARY PEOPLE WITH EXTRAORDINARY TALENTS. MANDY COOK IS ONE OF THEM. SHE'S AN EXCEPTIONAL PAINTER WITH A GENUINELY SINCERE INVESTMENT IN HER SUBJECT. TASTES LIKE CHICKEN'S UNMEDICATED TALENT, MISS TINA WELLS, SAT DOWN AND CHATTED WITH MISS COOK ABOUT HER LIFE, WORK, AND HOW THE TWO MEET.

tina: You graduated from the Columbus College of Art & Design with a bachelor's degree in fine art. What was your college experience like and how has your work changed since then?

Mandy: I was a double major. Before fine art, I was an illustration major and studied animation. When I started painting I really liked it, but I really didnít know where to start. I painted still life, landscapes, and portraits. I wasnít really into painting, but I figured I should paint something I am passionate about. Thatís why I started painting Anne.

t: Who is Anne and what inspires you to study her?

M: Anne is my girlfriend. I really have to be into the subject matter in order to be passionate about it enough to paint it, because painting is probably my most honest form of expression.

t: Do you take photos of her for reference, or do you work from life?

M: When I first started painting her, it was from life. Then I started painting from photographs, mostly for convenience. I use a lot of drapery in my work, and if the drapery moves you can never get it back. The drapery is a very important element to me in the paintings.

t: What mediums do you use to create your work?

M: Mostly oils and, sometimes, pastels. I usually use pastels for fun, but if I really like it, I will frame it. I have a couple of pastels in a show right now. I also do copperpoint in my small drawings, which are created with actual copper on a clay-coated paper which gives the piece a really nice effect. In about ten years, the copper will turn into an antiqued green color. It is really a lot of fun to use. The copper can be filed down really sharp to get a lot of detail.

t: Do you have a medium you typically prefer?

M: Not really. Itís usually just what I feel like using. If I donít feel like painting with oils, itís really that I just donít feel like breathing in turpentine fumes. With drawing, I will use pencil or copperpoint. Or if I feel like drawing, but want color, I will use pastels.

t: You just had a show opening. What did you exhibit?

M: I exhibited mostly figurative oil paintings of Anne, along with two pastels and three copperpoints. There were a total of 12 pieces.

t: How did the show go, and do you plan on having another show in the near future?

M: The show went very well. I was told by the owner of the gallery that it was the best turnout she ever had for an opening. Iíve sold three pieces so far, and three more are currently being looked at for purchase.

t: Do you ever plan on exhibiting your work in other states?

M: I would love to. But probably not for a couple of years. I am using word of mouth now to promote myself. I really havenít been looking for that just yet. Iím just keeping it low key right now.

t: So where are you from?

M: Goodlettsville, Tennessee, which is north of Nashville.

t: Do you plan on staying in Columbus?

M: For a few years. I think I would like to stay here and build a good foundation.

t: What is currently on your easel?

M: Commissioned work. I just finished a portrait of someoneís mother who has Alzheimerís. It is a small portrait. Once I am finished with that, I will be working on a landscape another person wanted me to do. Itís a 12" x 16" piece I am creating from a photo. So, I am mostly catching up with some freelance work.

t: What kind of responses have you gotten from your work?

M: The night of my opening I heard a lot of people I didnít know talking about my work. It was nice to hear what people had to say.

t: What do you want people to think, say, or feel when they see the images you have created?

M: I want them to feel a warmth and a connection between the artist and the subject matter. I think a lot of people look at art without thinking from the artistís perspective.

t: Most of the time, people who buy art just buy it to match their carpet and their couch. Typically, they could give a crap about who the subject is and who created it.

M: People will look at a piece and say and think itís ďnice.Ē But they never question why the artist painted it and what inspired them to paint it.

t: Of the three paintings you sold, did any of the people that purchased these pieces have any questions or comments for you?

M: Actually, I never met them. So I guess I will never know what made them buy my work. I just know that the first piece I sold was to a woman from out of state on the day of the opening before I even got there. She came in five times that day to look at the painting and she finally bought it.

t: Who are your inspirations?

M: Andrew Wyeth is a big inspiration. His figurative work, like the figures of Helga, really inspired me to do my figurative work. I like John Singer Sargent mostly for his technique. I think his oil paintings are amazing. And my father is an oil painter. As I was growing up, I was always around his work; but I didnít realize how inspired I was by him until I actually started painting in college. He really influenced me.

t: Any other artists in the family?

M: One brother works for Disney, my oldest brother is a freelance illustrator and does CD cover art, and I have another brother who is an engineer who also draws.

t: How long does it typically take you to create an average-sized piece of work?

M: It depends. The pastels only take me a couple of hours. Sometimes I will spend three months on one and have three in progress on the side. If I get bored with one, I will work on another one and put the first one aside. It depends on how well it clicks. Some of my paintings never get finished because it just didnít click. I have a lot of unfinished work that I will probably just paint over.

t: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

M: Hopefully I will be at a point where I can stay home and paint, live happily and comfortably, eat well, and sleep in a nice fluffy bed!

t: Besides your current work, do you create other forms of art, like sock puppets?

M: Well, I carve soap. Just kidding. Actually, during the summer, to make ends meet I have been landscaping. Every once in a while my supervisors will let me be creative with a bed of flowers. But thatís pretty much it.

t: How do you feel about the new quarter designs?

M: Well, um, I think itís going to take a long time for someone to collect all of them. I really donít pay much attention to them. They are just quarters. I use them for money and thatís it.

t: Are you happy with the new design theyíre releasing next month: Bill Clinton on the nickel?

M: Nuh-uh! Really?

t: No. Not really.

M: I think Bill has a nice profile and I think it would look nice for years and years of generations to see.

t: What are you thinking about right now?

M: I was reading that sign on the wall. It says ďPhotography, as we know, leads straight to porn.Ē

t: What music do you like,.. besides Britney Spears?

M: Besides Britney Spears? (laughs) Well, I really like Elvis. I think that man was a genius and he will live forever. I like G. Love and Special Sauce. I also like Luscious Jackson and am really sad that they are no longer together.

t: In your amateur opinion, do dogs have lips?

M: I believe they do, because I have two dogs that kiss me all the time.

t: What does brown and purple make?

M: It makes, um, brown.

t: It kinda makes a shitty color, huh?

M: Yeah, exactly. Can you print that?

t: We can print anything we want. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of tastes like chicken?

M: I am always available for freelance work!

CONTACT MANDY HERE.


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