> Please introduce yourself, in your own words. What are your interests?
My name is Teresa Clark, and I was born in 1974 in Mexico City. I am a painter but I'm also interested in many things which usually interact, like cinema, nature, music, psychology, literature, etcetera. Since life is short, I've devoted myself to one activity, painting, that fulfils my needs and desires; yet I've done my best to allow other interests to feed it. Knowledge and feeling may come from the unexpected and one must be open to everything, if possible.
> Where did you begin with artistic endeavours? How did you come across Abstraction or Surrealism?
I was attracted to art since childhood, but I didn't grow up in an environment that encouraged it, except as a hobby. I was told that I should find a job to pay bills, so, long story short, I became a lawyer, and worked for years at that. However, during those years I felt an emptiness around the whole law-firm environment and status until it all seemed pointless and I started to get sick all the time. It was a hard moment but I was still young and I could re-evaluate what I wanted in life. I started taking drawing lessons in 2000 and went on to different ateliers while working still as a lawyer, part-time. In 2005 I started showing my paintings, and selling some. Around the end of 2007, I finally stopped working as a lawyer and took the (scary) leap to living from painting, which has been good, with its ups and downs and having to learn different jobs related to painting, such as coloring digitally for animation or producing illustration work.
The first years, as most students, I had no idea about what direction to take with my painting, but around 2003 I had the opportunity of scubadiving in Cozumel and was amazed by the underwater world. My first works were all about underwater seascapes, in a somewhat impressionistic style because I wanted to avoid an illustrative, 'Seaworld' style. I slowly evolved to abstract expressionism, to a point where my paintings didn't actually show anything of the sea, apart from the titles. I loved abstraction but wasn't ready to face creation from zero, in a pure abstract way: I always needed an image from a place, even if imaginary, to start from. Eventually, however, I did manage to do some lyrical abstracts, like To Heal the Wound I and II, or my Corrosive Series.
On the other hand, I've also made small approaches to Surrealism, which begun with my collage collaborations with Liz Cohn and her project Playing with a Full Deck who I met here on deviantART. Those, and my other smaller pieces like Runaway, Transportado or The Black Thread, have been ludic and somewhat relaxing detours in my work, opening the surreal window to me.
> How would you explain the concept of Abstraction or Surrealism to someone with no experience with the genre?
In an attempt to keep it simple, I would say that Abstract art is a non-representative way of creation (meaning that no figure appears in it). It may be created by synthesizing a figure until it is beyond recognition, or in a purest form, it may be created just considering composition, colour and texture. There are some subcategories like lyric abstraction (inspired mostly by feeling and expression), or geometric abstraction (mostly synthetic compositions involving geometric figures, straight lines, etcetera.). I particularly adhere to the lyrical category, since many of my paintings involve either expression and catharsis of my inner feelings, or evocation of fantastic 'places'. Surrealism, on the other hand, is generated by spontaneous, apparently unintentional relationship between figures and often skipping any logic at all. It also intends to bring to the viewer the world of the unconscious, the dream-state, and usually their contradictions with reality and order.
> What inspires you to use Abstraction or Surrealism in your work?
In Abstraction, no matter what my process is, the viewer has always the prerogative to see what the painting evokes for them, and I just love that. I have my own fulfillment in every piece, but there's still the others' experience over it: I believe I bring something to others' lives. Surrealism is a different path to the same direction; it is fun to bring out the viewers' memories, dreams or unconscious relationships between those figures and their own experiences. Or maybe these pieces just may cause a reaction of enjoyment, of fun generated by the impossible. I sure have a lot of fun when I work in those pieces. Some people react better to abstraction, some to surrealism; I think there is also a matter of personal taste and understanding in everyone that must be respected. Not all art is for everyone.
> What do you want to express with your artwork? What is the idea you're trying to put across?
Both abstraction and surrealism are attractive to me because I want to bring out the viewers' (and my own) memories, experiences, dreams. I want to move anybody that comes close to my paintings, so they can take a look into their souls. Sometimes the view can be dark, even, but as long as I move something I feel I am bringing out their humanity; something which is occasionally exhausted by reality and its requirements (money, work, family, health, and so on).
> What are your 'tools of the trade'? How do you create your art?
For years I've painted with oils over acrylics on canvas, taking advantage of the quick drying properties of acrylics but finishing them up with oils because I really like the vibrant quality of oils (never try the inverse way though - acrylic over oils - because it will fall apart). However, a couple of years ago I started producing smaller pieces on paper and using other combinations such as acrylics with pastels. I try to work on the finest watercolor paper I can find, from Arches to Fabriano, and I usually choose heavier and textured paper so it can hold through the whole process. Also, I have sometimes included tiny collages into my works.
> Do you think the quality of a piece depends more upon technical perfection, or the message contained therein?
I think both are important. A technical virtuosity is always appreciated but may lack feeling or importance for the viewer and thus may be easily forgotten. One must have something to say! But without technical knowledge, the message may be lost or only partly achieved. Actually, I think one never achieves 100% the message, that's why we keep trying.
> Who are your favourite visual artists, and why?
That is a tough question. I really like Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, along with Turner, Whistler, Odilon Redon, Klimt, Nolde, the romantics and also the expressionists. I admire Kandinsky and really respect Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud. But these are just a few names, I enjoy the work of many more. I must add that I am also inspired by the art-related work created in movies, not only in classic animation but production design in feature films like Coppola's or classic black and white films. One can learn a lot about composition and the language of colour from watching movies.
> Which dA Groups would you recommend to someone looking to get involved with abstract and surreal art?
I have been a member of the 4bstr4ct4rt group from my early days on deviantART and I've found they have a good criteria of selection -I've found many great artists to watch there. I haven't been involved enough with Surrealism, so I haven't been in touch with any groups regarding it.
> What advice would you give to an absolute beginner in the genre?
Don't aim for perfection at the very first attempt. Have fun. Create many, many pieces. And most of all, try to work on something that you care about. Even in an abstraction, it will show.
> Any final words on abstract and surreal art?
Well I think both categories - abstract and surreal - are great to identify art and find what you like among many works, but sometimes categories can be somewhat restrictive. I think one mustn't try to make one's art fit into a label; creating can be hard enough as it is. I prefer to paint my pieces and forget about categories or labels. I think of them later, when I want to submit a new work to deviantART or to a contest.
> In conclusion, pick nine works from your Favourites that you particularly enjoy.