Olivia Kate Cerrone: In a profile written for the Pacific Art League, Judy Block reveals that your life as a painter emerged after an extensive and variegated career that included working for NBC studios to servicing an educational media group in Istanbul, where you lived for five years until a severe illness prompted an unexpected return to the States. During this period of recovery and essential transformation, you decided to pursue art. Why narrative painting specifically? What aspects, if any, from your former professional life in television and film influence the creative perspective that you bring to the canvas?
OKC: On your website, you mention how light holds a very significant, almost spiritual place in your work, which is especially true for most, if not all, of your narrative paintings. One leaves with the impression that the presence of light, so often depicted as luminous bulbs and distant bursts of explosive energy, signifies something beyond the traditional, if not archetypical meaning of light in terms of goodness and sanctity. Could you speak to this?
OKC: Process factors deeply in the creation of your paintings. On your website, you provide a generous depiction of this complex two-step procedure, essentially a layering effect that begins as a monochromatic under-painting (sometimes described as a camaieu or grissaille, depending on the color used) that is imbued with brilliant color and glossy light through a series of velatura glazes (another, darker layer of transparent paint) and scumbles (a lighter, opaque or semi-opaque coat of paint). Does this style draw from the traditional workings of Renaissance masters or is it a more personal process, one derived from the many influences you have gleaned from apprenticing with an array of American, Bulgarian and Russian masters? How important is the technical discipline and concentration of following such a process involved with the resulting creative product?
OKC: What are your plans or hopes for artistic projects in the future?AL: Now that I’m living in upstate NY, I have more space, and as a result, I’m working on some larger paintings. I would like to push some of the themes in my paintings even further and I’m working out ways to do this. Some of these include a different use of color, and maybe the use of multiple, sequential paintings within one frame, diptychs or triptychs. I’ve also done some studies for works in which I would use the sequence of thesis, antithesis and conclusion that was used by the ancient painters and revived during the Baroque era. I think it may be a little harder to do this with the sensibilities of a contemporary audience but we’ll see.
OKC: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your experiences. Any last thoughts?