Alicia Rothman is a New York based artist whose paintings have been shown in exhibitions across the USA. In recent years her work has been seen on the walls of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and has been added to the shelves of the White House’s art collection. Her paintings combine various patterns and techniques, from printmaking to gold leaf, and the combination of traditional methods with Rothman’s innovative approach gives her paintings beguiling texture and depth. She paints hazy spaces filled with delicate light and graceful creatures.
How would you describe your practice?
You can always do it better.
What was your path to becoming a professional artist?
As far back as I can remember, I was always fascinated by the experience or the act of making something. It was natural for me. By the time I was 14, I was painting stage scenes for school plays. At Music & Art High School in NYC I studied woodcuts and painting and then went on to study fine art in college and graduate school. But I also found inspiration in literature. William Faulkner wrote in Light in August, “Memory believes before knowing remembers, believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders”. This mysterious quote seems to describe my method of working.
Your subject matter – horses, elephants, camels - seem quite far away from typical ideas about the artist’s life in New York. What do you study and draw inspiration from for your work?
I am more interested in art and the work that has been made, the power in seeing great art. I love to see ancient wall paintings, Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance art in addition to 20th century textiles, Japanese shibori techniques and woodcuts, the simplicity of tantric paintings and ledger drawings by American Indians. My subjects include animals, urban scenes, dancers. began to notice how patterns can serve as tone and to separate areas of composition and how dots alone can serve to express movement. In a way it’s an escape from daily city life.
My influences were Giacometti, Rembrandt, Paul Klee, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Giorgio Morandi and Baudelaire to name just a few. It is important to have spontaneity in drawing and allow movement. As Paul Klee said "A line is a point that took a walk."
What keeps you returning to horses as a subject in particular?
Their form is beautiful, and I haven’t achieved everything yet.
Can you describe the artistic processes used to make your postcard for the Christmas lottery? It’s hard to untangle all the techniques you’ve used just by looking closely!
I gesso the postcard to keep a stronger surface. Then I use various techniques to rework an image including relief, hand-made templates and intaglio printmaking techniques. Having studied Renaissance drawing techniques, I find it valuable to know how to make gesso, use gold leaf, or make red chalk.
Can you set the scene in your studio? What’s a normal working day like for you?
Early in the morning I try to begin work. My cat, Tiger would like to assist. There are many pieces going at the same time. On the walls there are post cards of art that inspires me as well as works in progress.
Amid life’s daily distractions, it’s wonderful when I really get to just work.
There are many techniques. I use oil paint, relief, silk screen, templates, and do endless studies which I enjoy. There is no end to the development of techniques that I use. In my work, changes in methods of making patterns and marks can be seen.
Do you know the story behind how your artwork ended up in the White House collection?
It was really hilarious. I painted Broadway dancers on an egg to represent Easter for the state of New York. This activity was rewarded by a tour of the White House by then first lady, Laura Bush and inclusion of my egg with 49 others, each representing a state, in the White House archives.
How did you get involved with Art on a Postcard?
Gemma Peppé thankfully found my work at the Royal Academy summer exhibition and contacted me. his was a great opportunity to participate in something that is so important and to make art a part of it! I love doing the postcards and working small is huge. It is so exciting to watch as the auction takes place online.
What are you hoping Christmas and the New Year bring for you?
Oh, peace, health, success. And more time to work on my art, more opportunities like Art On A Postcard.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up in 2017?
I will be painting. The rest is chance.
Alicia Rothman's Water Horse is part of our UltimART Golden Ticket with CultureLabel get your Golden Ticket HERE!