Today begins another chapter in my Where Artists Create Series, featuring Birmingham print artist Celeste Pfau. Come back tomorrow and meet her and then we'll take a trip to her print studio and follow the fascinating creative process.
I spent an afternoon with Celeste Pfau while she worked her magic in the printing studio of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where she was a student and uses the space when it's available. It was a fascinating experience, following her through her botanical print process. I'm sure I overstayed my welcome! Come back tomorrow and have a look around her creative space!
How would you describe your work?
"My work is serious in its playfulness. I use my intuition often to create it. No two pieces are exactly the same, but I do often work in series and explore certain compositions again and again until I get to where I am interested in going.. I do not sit and think and make nothing.. I THINK and embrace the creative process through DOING! Nothing is wasted. I do eventually find ways to use most everything I make even the left over papers I produce when I am creating my prints."
For these large printing pieces Celeste Pfau uses the printing studio at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. In the foreground you can see the natural materials that she gathers for her botanical prints. Many of these can be used more than once which I found interesting. Below, some tools of her trade.
Tell me about your creative space.
" My creative space is nomadic, I do different parts of the creative process in different places. For example I collect my natural materials anywhere and everywhere: when I am running an errand and I see a plant that has leaves that have fallen I go pick it up.If I am on a walk and and see a material I want to use for a print I gather it. If I am a passenger in a car or train or airplane I make sure the work on a piece of art or sketch! I also take photos often as a creative form of expression and that can happen anytime and anywhere and in any place.
It is very important to me that I never feel stuck or unable to create... I make with what ever I have around me..I don't think there are any good excuses when it comes to not making. You can always use what is around you at the time. My creative space has to be clean and neutral at during the beginning of the creative process, and then as time goes by and I get deeper into the pieces I am working on the space transforms as I am making my work. I am always expanding and contracting the space depending on what I am working on."
One thing I learned hanging around with Celeste, printing is a messy endeavor but well worth it. First the paint is spread on a lucite panel, then smoothed with the brayer. The arranging of the plant material is fascinating to watch as she chose carefully but still managed to let her creativity lead the way. Then the fabric was laid over and covered with muslin. Cranking the big press took some effort. The uncovering was like opening a present on Christmas morning.
Creatively, what would you like to explore?
"I want to explore all the senses. When I make I am not just composing with my eyes, I am also composing with what the material feels like, sounds like, smells like!
So when I think about showing my work the ideal situation would be a entire experience. Their would be certain pieces you could touch..pieces you could get inside of...pieces you could eat?
I like creating these environments and especially like to collaborate and do it with fellow visual artists as well as musicians, dancers, writers, poets, any one really!
The hardest part, is that it takes A LOT of time and effort, financial and emotional investment...so everything has to align for these kind of creative experiences to happen or to be sustainable."
I hope you have enjoyed meeting Celeste as much as I did. She is a multi talented , creative, gentle soul, and I will enjoy following her artistic journey. I hope you will as well.
What place inspires you ?
"I love going into forests! especially old growth forests! I have had the good fortune to visit a few in my life... The Red Wood Forests in the Northwest... the Forests in the southern part of South America in Chile where my mother is from! These Forests have an energy in them that is very powerful and awe inspiring, These forests have trees in them that are much older than anyone alive. This is very special!"
If you could explore another medium, what would that be?
"Basketry. I love 3-dimensional work and I also love natural fiber! I think their is a lot of artistry in the weaving of natural materials! I would learn traditional techniques and then use those techniques to make the images I want to explore."