A Conversation with Interior Designer Susanna Salk

A Conversation with Interior Designer Susanna Salk

Interior design expert, home stager, author and stylist Susanna Salk stepped away from her busy life of touring homes, both nationally and internationally, for her Quintessence video series to answer some of my questions about design. Join us for a conversation on inspiration, the process of transforming a home, and how Susanna would design her dream getaway cabin. Gary Komarin: What got you interested in design? Was it always in your blood? Susanna Salk: I dreamed of growing up and becoming a powerful woman who created sexy advertising campaigns in glossy magazines. My first job out of college happened to be at Condé Nast International helping head up the New York satellite office for all their international shelter magazines. From their Elle Decor and then House and Garden and onto my own design work so it was more like a transfusion. Gary Komarin: If you had a perfect client, how would you describe that client? Susanna Salk: Someone who can inspire me as equally as they can stay open to being inspired. Someone who can be fearless, honest and funny. Gary Komarin: As you do design projects on television, as well as books, how would you compare the two experiences? Does one feed or ‘speak’ to the other, or is it an apples and grapes comparison? Susanna Salk: If you love what you do and are open to anything, then all mediums – not to mention the people you meet along the way – start cross pollinate each other continually. Gary Komarin: What do you do with a client who likes your idea initially, but shows resistance overtime? Do...
Questions from the Studio – Conversation with Barry Blitt

Questions from the Studio – Conversation with Barry Blitt

Illustrator and Cartoonist Barry Blitt may be best known for his New Yorker covers, but his hidden talent lies in answering questions. I’m sure you’ll find yourself laughing, as I did, over anecdotes from childhood classroom caricatures, the stress of deadlines and the unexpected drawing created while half asleep that put an end to his quest for nighttime inspiration. Gary Komarin: Did you draw a lot as a kid and does that inform what you draw now? Barry Blitt: I sure did draw a lot as a kid. Cartoon characters, hockey players, rock stars. But what probably resonates most with my work today was the mocking caricatures of my school teachers that I scribbled secretly at my desk, for the amusement of my classmates. It may have been Mrs. Herschkopf back then, and Donald Trump today, but the objective was the same. Gary Komarin: How do you get inside the “character” or personality of who you are drawing. Do you need to get “inside” or can you work from the “outside” as it were? Barry Blitt: Um. I’m not particularly psychological in my portraiture (but thanks for asking). Sometimes I just need enough of a likeness to know that the figure is, say, Hillary Clinton, and not Wolf Blitzer. You don’t have to deal with seeing inside the characters in my cartoons, for good or for ill. Gary Komarin: Do you ever struggle to get a certain Face or Body just right………and what do you do if it isn’t working? Barry Blitt: I recently was so frustrated at deadline time with a likeness I couldn’t capture that I actually traced a...
Chaos and Control in Contemporary Abstract Painting

Chaos and Control in Contemporary Abstract Painting

Few people, including collectors and aficionados of contemporary abstraction, fully realize how much a painting veers between levels of Chaos and Control. Picasso and his peers opened the door to the idea that a painting could be built up, torn down, and built up again. This swinging Arc between Building and Destroying is part of the Process for Many Abstract Painters And while there are some who proceed with carefully worked out plans, for many painters including me the process is far more chaotic and uncontrolled. You have to make a big mess on the canvas before you can come in and clean up that mess. The well planned canvas may work for some but for painters with my disposition, based on largely intuitive choice and based on moment by moment reaction to what is in front me on the canvas, the experience of painting for me, is more Like jazz. Unlike the process of constructing an office tower in a big city where every single decision is guided by a prior decision and all is controlled so that a cantilevered platform does not collapse on eager visitors to that building, a freely brushed and painterly abstract painting is free from the burdens of responsibility. It can be anything, and while it has an internal order upon completion, that sense of order can be far more oblique than obvious.   The Act of Destruction in painting can be as enjoyable and cathartic as the Act of Building up forms in space. Control and Chaos sit on the same tight bench. The Painter moves from one set of circumstances to the other. Not unlike a...
On Being on the Cover of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine

On Being on the Cover of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine

In November of last year I was invited to be on the cover of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine for The Art Issue. They were doing a special issue on Artists in Connecticut and one fall morning I got a call from the Editor in Chief. They asked me if they could come to do a photo shoot at my studio in Roxbury. I replied: Delighted! When the ‘crew’ arrived they began to snap photo after photo seconds after getting out of their vehicles. As an Artist who is often in motion – I move around the Painting quite a bit while working (as the canvas typically begins on the floor of the studio, laying flat so I can freely swing the brush, liberated from ideas about up and down, left and right) – it was appropriate that the photographer took pictures while i was walking the property and moving around the studio. The final shots selected showed me lifting a large red painting from the floor and a second shot, which became the cover shot, was intriguing as well. The cover shot showed me using a special long handled brush, pushing paint across the surface of large dirty white painting. Some thought it was a broom I was using to sweep up, but in fact it was a long handled brush designed to have greater reach across the surface of a larger painting. Plus, its length allows for the kind of playful and unexpected ‘accidents’ that occur when liquid paint (mixed to the consistency of melted Ice Cream) swishes and sloshes on the new weave of fresh cotton duck canvas. When the cover appeared,...
Art Historical Resonance and Komarin Exhibition in The Hamptons

Art Historical Resonance and Komarin Exhibition in The Hamptons

As an abstract painter painting in 2015, it is a very curiously emotional experience to show my new paintings in Bridgehampton, New York. Many do not realize that some of the greatest American Painters of the past century settled in The Hamptons in the late 40’s and 50’s, having moved out of the barren, cold, and gritty loft spaces of lower New York. Two of the most famous of these individuals were Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. While Willem de Kooning had emigrated from Holland to New York, and Jackson Pollock from Wyoming to New York, both had lived and worked in the lower reaches of Manhattan. Life for an abstract painter in the 30’s and 40’s was a very tough experience indeed. Painters tended to live in cold water flats – toilets and sinks down the hall – and very little money coming up the pipeline. The mindset and expectation of making money was very, very low. There was no place to go, so why not pour everything into the ‘work.’ Painters at this time were drawn to painting like moths to a flame. It was not the career that well-positioned parents and teachers encouraged their talented children to pursue. Picasso was the God that was worshipped from across the big and tumbling ocean…and both Pollock and de Kooning struggled to keep alive, make the rent and still paint their hearts out during the daylight hours. Both were heavy drinkers and smokers, but this came very much with the territory. It wasn’t so much an attempt to be ‘romantic,’ the act of painting. Rather, these individuals were hard-core devoted artists and the drinking and smoking...