Lindsey Cuenca Walker

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I’m originally from Long Beach, CA but I currently live in Portland, OR.
What’s your favorite part of living in Portland?
I moved from Northern California to Portland to attend school but didn’t really know all too much about it, aside from its proximity to nature and slow pace (both good things). I came to find that there’s a strong and supportive arts community which I’ve come to love dearly. There are a lot of creative minds here and I think being a part of that community is helpful in pushing me to better myself and my practice.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
I am rather sensitive to my environment, so it’s necessary to maintain a space that’s free of distraction or anything that can pull me out of the head space I need to be in to create. I’ll put on a record sometimes but I’m also happy to work in silence. Daylight is also essential, though as the sun moves so does the quality of the light. There is definitely a block of time during the day that is best for painting and working with color.
Why did you choose to work with painting?
In the past I worked primarily in printmaking, specifically screen printing. I created prints by cutting and tearing construction paper, folding ink washes and half-tone sheets and arranging them on the exposure unit to eliminate the possibility for reproduction after the screen was reclaimed. Eventually, I began painting and my interest shifted towards something closer to figuration, but I think the influence of printmaking is still relevant in my current work and how I approach composition.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
I start off by making coffee, but from then on it varies completely from day to day. Since I work from home now, a studio day could include cleaning, watering my plants, reading, or watching something relevant to what I’m thinking about. What I do really depends on where my head is at on any given day. I may begin with sketching – either jumping back into a group of sketches I’ve been working on, or hiding all the sketches I have made the day before to try and remove influence from past work. I tend to work on a few pieces at a time and take breaks in between them to allow a day or two to reflect on their progress. I find that I usually hate things as soon as I make them, but after a couple of days and some distance, I begin to like them.
How do you utilize spontaneity in your art?
I like to work with ink during my sketching process because the looseness of the medium lends itself to an interesting, unexpected quality in the line work and forms.
Do you sketch from life? Where does your imagery come from?
My lexicon of images is drawn from my daily life, my surroundings, or some just imagined. I find my work ends up straddling lines or being of a dichotomous nature – strange/familiar, tough/fragile, abstraction/representation – and I think that’s where my interests lie.
I may begin with sketching – either jumping back into a group of sketches I've been working on, or hiding all the sketches I have made the day before to try and remove influence from past work. — Lindsey Cuenca Walker
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
One of the most challenging things for me is reigning myself in, so to speak, and not setting out to accomplish everything I want in a single painting. I often find myself overwhelmed by possibilities, which at times can be a paralyzing feeling. I have to constantly remind myself about giving everything room to breathe.
How do you choose what to include (or exclude) in a given work?
My current work has an immediacy to it that I feel is really important to how the paintings function, so I try to consider whether adding another formal element to will add or detract from the impact the image can have.
How does your choice of color inform the final piece?
Determining my color palette can be either a very fast process, where I get it right off the bat, or it can require a lot more experimentation, but I try to take risks with color as often as I can. If I’m having difficulty, I like to start off with a color that is a bit “out there” and work backwards, to see if I can find a way to justify using it.
Are there any colors you don’t use?
I certainly have a palette that I lean towards, but since I find experimenting with color to be so exciting, I don’t think I’d choose to exclude any one color from my vocabulary. I think there’s a way to make any color work depending on what’s surrounding it.
I find my work ends up straddling lines or being of a dichotomous nature – strange/familiar, tough/fragile, abstraction/representation – and I think that's where my interests lie. — Lindsey Cuenca Walker
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
When I was 16 I started to pay attention to art. I remember at that time I had seen David Hockney’s swimming pool paintings for the first time and felt a lot of excitement for those. Around the same time, I found a small stack of Zap Comix that my dad had kept from the 70s, which introduced me to R. Crumb’s work. Looking back I can see how the influence of both of those artists has stayed with me.
Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
There is an excerpt from the artist Robert Irwin about the phenomena of presence in the Southwest Desert that I always come back to when I’m working, and I think gets at the same feeling that I have when I think about my paintings. He talks about the desert being flat, no events, no connotations for miles and miles, and then, out of nowhere it suddenly stands up and hums, giving it an almost magical quality – and then minutes later it will simply stop. That idea of energy and presence is something I’m really interested in. Our work is nothing alike, but I haven’t seen anyone sum up that feeling much better than him.
How do you see your work evolving in the future?
I would like to allow myself time for more experimentation. I have a tendency to second guess myself at every turn, and I would like the opportunity to push my risk-taking. I feel that is when I experience the most evolution in my work.

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