Since I made my first visit to the Dilworth Artisan Station building when interviewing artist Marcy Gregg last year, I’ve been looking forward to going back. This past Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to interview Marcy’s studio mate and fellow artist, Adrian Chu Redmond. I first got a glimpse of Adrian’s work when I was visiting last year, and that led to researching more about Adrian’s work via her website.
While both artists do different styles of abstract, Adrian focuses on the genre of abstract realism. From the moment we sat down for the interview, it was clear how much Adrian loves what she does, and her comment that even working in the studio for 7 hours not being enough time to devote to her art, couldn’t have been a more fitting statement.
Her paintings are so full of life, and the stories they tell, some of which she related to us during the interview, were so inspiring to hear. Not to mention more meaningful when you’re hearing the artist tell the stories in person!
When did you first discover your love for art?
Adrian’s love for art began when her husband, Michael, gave her a gift certificate for one month at the Braitman Studio here in Charlotte. What started off as a hobby of sorts, became a true passion, and when she had the chance to show her paintings at a friend’s jewelry show she was surprised to have sold almost all she had displayed. From there she’s been shown in galleries from New York to Charleston as well as galleries abroad. This summer she’ll be an artist in residence in Italy, where she’s been invited along with 15 other international artists for en Plein air (outside) painting.
What drew you to the medium of oils in particular?
Oils are very forgiving. I just love the fluidity of the oil while painting and the ability to blend them. I mix all of my colors, so the fact that oils don’t dry quickly really helps with this process. (The process of mixing oils can take as much time as it does to create an actual painting) Oils allow me to create texture and wonderful colors and since I like to paint wet on wet the oils merge better with each other versus the quicker drying acrylics.
What is a typical day in the studio like for you?
I’m usually working on 3-5 paintings at once, so when I start my day at the studio I try to keep in mind what shows and commissions I have coming up along with any upcoming deadlines. I also enjoy relaxing, being in the moment, and having a wonderful studio mate like Marcy.
I absolutely love the koi pieces that are featured on your website. What drew you to painting Koi and what did you enjoy most about creating these paintings in particular?
I painted a family ‘portrait’ with koi. It’s called ‘The Kiss’ and it symbolizes love and friendship. I love the colors and freedom of the koi. The first painting that I did featuring koi was a 40X40 for a friend, her father had a koi pond and she wanted to have a painting in memory of that. I love to have energy and motion in all of my paintings and the fact that koi swim above and below the water helps me create energy/motion onto the canvas.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve painted?
‘What He Wore’ that I painted for my husband. He has this old Timberland barn coat and no matter how many Christmases I would buy him new ones, we’d always end up returning them. So I decided to ‘honor the coat’ and I painted a 30X40 for him. It’s a painting that’s really sentimental for me, and we have it up in our mudroom. (I think everyone has a piece of clothing that they cherish and can’t bear to get rid of, which naturally makes a fun subject to paint.)
If you need inspiration, is there a place you go to be inspired?
I love being outside in nature. I am inspired by the lights, darks, and shadows around me. I find beauty in it. It’s my lifeline and I find it both calming and grounding. I can find beauty in even the parking lot outside, the way the shadows are cast off the cars, it’s inspiring.
You hiked the Camino de Santiago. What part about this trip do you feel inspired you most as an artist?
Hiking the Camino de Santiago meant being outside for weeks on end. It was life-changing. I met people from all over the world. ‘Gratitude’ was my strength on this pilgrimage. It was the freest I had ever felt since I was a child. Before you start the trip, you’re asked if you’re making the journey for spiritual, personal, or physical reasons. For me, the journey with all its challenges really helped me appreciate the ‘present’ and in everything to give thanks. The most memorable part of the trip was the pilgrim mass at the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The message of the celebrant’s homily focused on art and painting as a metaphor for our life’s journey. We cannot live our life as blank canvases. We must celebrate life by embracing both light and darkness, bright and subdued, for it is only contrasted that we can truly appreciate the colors. As an artist, the message was clear.
If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be?
Van Gogh. When my son went to England to play soccer, I had a chance to see the Letters from Van Gogh exhibit in London. While reading the letters from Van Gogh to his brother Theo, I was able to learn more about Van Gogh on a personal level and understand more of what inspired him as a painter. His story is a very interesting one, his brother Theo, although they didn’t live close to one another, was responsible for every aspect of Van Gogh’s artist’s life.
Your artwork is featured in galleries both in the States and abroad, is there a gallery that you’ve enjoyed working with the most?
I’d have to say Hagan Fine Art Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a very unique city filled with amazing artists. Both the gallery owner and director are really great. They truly make me feel like I am family, and when I’ve sold a painting they are genuinely excited for me. As an artist, it’s always important to have someone to cheer you on, and that’s something they do well.
Your studio is located in Dilworth Artisan Studio, a building that houses a variety of other artists. What do you enjoy about being surrounded by other artists on a daily basis?
The creative spirit. We all have like minds here, and it begets creativity. We aren’t in competition with each other, and it’s common for us to go to one of our fellow artists to share upcoming shows or to brainstorm on what is going on in the art world.