Interview with Constance Humphries

This is the first in a monthly series of artist interviews.

I met the painter Constance Humphries online at 1000 Markets, where she recently opened a new market called Dialogue, featuring contemporary abstract work. She lives in Asheville, NC and exhibits widely. Visit her blog here.

I think you are right     Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ 2009


fd What does painting mean to you?

As is implied by the question, painting is defined differently for different painters. For me, painting is not the creation of illusion or a means of delivering a message. Instead it is the physical result of my participation in an event that occurs when I interact with a two-dimensional  picture plane in present time. It is about being present, paying attention and creating something that could only exist in that moment. It is endlessly fascinating.

fd Can you discuss your work and thought processes.

Drawing is the primary element in my work. It gives me direct access to my impulses through the immediacy and personal quality of mark-making. The practice of drawing from life loosely informs the actual drawing that comprises the paintings, while conceptually, the work explores life’s inter-dependencies.
The process of creating the work is such that it develops organically. Working intuitively and spontaneously, which allows the subconscious and imagination to take over, each mark suggests others until the work is completed. This is balanced with a slow and careful development of layers that results in a work that is simultaneously formal, random, constrained, loose, deliberate and instinctual. 

fd How would you describe your current series and do you have any ideologies as a painter? What is the context of your work?  

While attempting to avoid labels, groups or affiliations, I suppose the context of this work is a contemporary approach to abstract expressionism. I very much believe in the tenets of that movement and believe that it was interrupted and not fully developed. I have a natural tendency toward improvisation and in finding meaning rather than pronouncing it. I believe truth is found not in thinking but in being present, being in conversation with life. 

She’s lucky not to have one     Oil on canvas 36″ x 36″ 2009


fd Who are some of your influences, whether they’re painters, sculptors, poets or ‘none of the above’?

 Painters: Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Brice Marden, John Lees Musicians: Hank Mobley, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Arvo Parte, Philip Glass, John Adams, Steve Reich

fd Do you work spontaneously or is there a set time that you devote to the paintings on a daily/weekly basis?  

I have a set schedule. For me, just as any practice requires discipline, so it is with painting. 

fd Do you visit galleries and museums on a regular basis, or travel to view art and cultural events?   Yes, I visit galleries and museums, go to see/hear jazz and classical music and attend and modern/contemporary dance performances. My travels always include these. I also read art theory and criticism on a regular basis and try to keep up online. 

fd Does networking with other artists and developing community have much bearing on your life as an artist and if so, how does it inform your work and process? 

Many of my friends are artists, musicians or other creative types. I am drawn to them as they are to me out of interest in each others art and processes. For me, it is important to have a network of people who understand why I do what I do, why I work so hard. They understand me and encourage me when I forget what I am doing and give me the opportunity to do the same. However, with regard to my work and my process, other people have little to no bearing.

fd What are some of your long term goals for your painting career?

I want to paint as much as I can. I would love to have the exhibitions, accolades, and sales that come with success, but the painting itself is the most important thing to me, as I don’t know how to be happy without doing it. Painting is a completely integrated part of my life. My approach is to let the career develop as it will. All the career advancements that come my way have done so because of relationships I have built with others out of genuine interest. I am not in some big hurry to get somewhere. I will have the career that I have. I do the things I do in a natural way. I take what comes and don’t try to force outcomes. That’s not to say that I am not proactive as I am very disciplined in my approach. I just know that things will happen without me setting the agenda.

I say boy     Oil on canvas 36″ x 36″ 2009

For more about Humphries’ work, visit her 1000 Markets shop here. Web: Blog: Twitter: LinkedIn:

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2 Responses to Interview with Constance Humphries

  1. Ali Hossaini says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Ms. Humphries’ intriguing and poetic work. I enjoyed the interview, and I found a telling resonance between her painting, which I like very much, and her musical influences. Jazz, minimalism and Arvo Part are part of my regular playlists, so there’s probably a connection, on some deep aesthetic level, between those musicians and the high abstraction of her paintings.

  2. Victoria says:

    Quite a few painters have used music while painting. Not sure if she does, but I definitely have work inspired by and often directly related to jazz, especially.

    Vasily Kandinsky’s first love was music, and many of his works reflect the source. He referred to his series ‘Compositions’ as the ‘new symphonic construction’ in painting.

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