Artist Interview: Cori Creed

Vancouver artist Cori Creed’s new solo exhibition, Playlist, offers a collection of West Coast landscapes, created as a playlist of familiar songs. In this insightful artist interview, Creed gives us a look behind the scenes of her studio. 

"Playlist" Solo Exhibition at Bau-Xi Vancouver: May 7-21, 2022

1. How does an idea for a painting start?

So many different ways. The way the light falls across a particular landscape. A person - something about their features and the energy that they possess. An unexpected colour combination - either in nature or of human creation. It has even been as simple as a new brush and its personality. It is about translating a visual or emotional experience, so there are endless inspirations - sometimes for a series, sometimes a single story.

2. When does a certain sight or view trigger you to paint it?

Inspiration can be predictable - a coastline layered with textures and interesting light play. It can be manufactured - starting with an idea and then sketching and brainstorming and trying to determine how to communicate that idea best visually. It can also be unexpected - a painting that grows out of an entirely different start, or some colour or texture in something like a pile of leaves and discarded papers.

3. How much of your own imagination goes into a painting?

I think that most of the painting is imagination. I often use reference fleetingly at the beginning of a piece - this could be one image or a number of images, but it is quickly set aside, and I feel that my most successful pieces come from within. I draw from years of observation, practice, and the joy I feel in playing with mediums and mark-making.

4. The titles differ from past paintings. How do the songs you refer to in the titles relate to the

I was thinking about the value in repeated exploration of a particular subject or method. Elements become etched in memory and yet transmuted to become original forms each time. There is a fluidity and an increase in imagination that can come when forms become so familiar that there is less time looking at physical reference and more time working from memory and looking within. I was thinking about the parallels between painting certain subjects or stories again and again and listening to a musical playlist over and over. The songs change as you learn the lyrics by heart, as you notice chord changes or vocal variations that you hadn’t been aware of initially. There is a different feeling and focus that comes with listening to a song for the first time compared to the feeling of experiencing a song that you have become intimately connected to. These musings led to the naming of paintings in this series using some of the songs on the playlist that I have been listening to in the past year.

5. What are you working towards when starting a painting?

I usually have a goal when I am starting a painting. It might be related to a particular thing that I want to communicate or narrative that I want to tell, or it might be related to technique, medium and mark making. If it is a story, it is more important to stay with that original goal, but if it is more of a visual exploration, it is often necessary for me to have some flexibility in my focus as the piece develops. I never know what a finished piece is going to look like when I start.

6. What does the forest mean to you?

Our natural landscape is an escape, it provides absolute perspective with its seemingly timeless elements. It is a reminder of the state of constant change both beautiful and heartbreaking. It provides endless inspiration in emotional reaction. It is something to be moved through, and that physical experience of interacting with massive forms that have been sculpted by sunlight or murk has always intrigued me and moved me to try to capture the physicality and transience.

7. Has your relation to the forest changed since you started painting?

The first painting that I still have from childhood I did when I was 3, so this is a tricky question! I was always moved to try to capture my visual experiences both of the natural and manufactured world. My focus on painting the natural world came from my desire to spend time exploring the coastlines and mountains for my sense of well-being. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t find scenes or situations that moved me to try to bottle them up or reinterpret them visually.

Photographs by Levi Cameron Creed

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