@SchulmanArt Blog Interview with Meri Bourgard
|The artist Meri Bougard at work
SchulmanArt: How long have you been selling professionally and online?
Meri Bourgard: I have always preferred to personally know my clients and complete sales face-to-face but I’m excited about now being able to reach the world market through the Internet. I have been selling my work professionally since 1975 and online for the last 3 years.
Where did you study art?
MB: My early training was begun at home copying Bridgeman’s figure drawings in my father’s art books. After majoring in Fine Art at Hunter College as an undergraduate, I made my living free-lancing in Burlington, Vermont. The community supported my art by commissioning me to do a wide variety of work including paintings, portraits and drawings. I returned to school studying for my Masters in Fine Arts at Pratt Institute. I attribute this program to helping me find my true voice as a mature artist.
What is your favorite medium to work in and why?
I prefer to work with mixed media. Even when I am painting in oils, a moment often comes when I feel compelled to draw into the wet surface with pastel or graphite. I combine mediums in any way possible to take a new direction with the work and keep it fresh.
How do you get inspired?
MB: Getting inspired comes from doing the work. Since I search for found images, starting with no preconception of subject, the only way I might prepare is by thinking about a color or a medium I want to use. There is certainly fear and anxiety present at this conceptual moment but once the marks begin and I confront what develops, I’m always compelled to search for imagery. When I have identified a recognizable fragment, I am inspired to continue and to release the image from within the abstract composition. Emerging figures expressing timeless aspects of human experience, come and go until the composition resolves.
Finding inspiration to make art in the face of all the other responsibilities of life is a far bigger challenge for me. Each one of my involvements, being a wife, daughter, family member, home owner, car owner, landlord, graduate professor, and fine art business owner takes care and maintenance. Making time to be in the studio is sometimes a very difficult task.
SchulmanArt: Do you go on painting retreats or holidays?
MB: I have taken trips to Europe and the coast of Maine with the focus on making art but I also consistently work to integrate my art with normal activities. At times, I have been successful setting aside an art intensive section of the calendar, keeping it clear of all appointments and being disciplined about doing nothing else but art. More frequently, I have to re-learn again and again that if I don’t put art first, I can very easily misjudge the amount of time other involvements may take.
|artist’s Brooklyn studio
SchulmanArt: What is your studio space like?
MB: My husband operated a cabinet-making shop out of our cellar and as I work in the space now, it is among his tools and equipment. I grew up with a family used to working with their hands and building things, so having this work/studio space has been both familiar and comforting. I love having a place in my own home to work and my present studio space in Brooklyn is like a underground haven. I’ve done the best artwork of my career down here.
SchulmanArt: Who has been the biggest influence on your creative development?
MB: Both my parents have influenced my development as an artist. My father was an illustrator and designer and he gave me my first drawing and painting lessons. He commuted to NYC everyday from our Long Island home and he brought his jobs back on the weekends as well. That gave me a chance to learn by watching him work and showing me how to assist him in projects of growing difficulty and responsibility.
My mother’s skills as homemaker gave me early training in aesthetic judgement. She has an unerring eye for beauty, balance proportion and harmony, and in so many ways, shaped my ability to see. Her fine craftsmanship in sewing, cooking and home decoration taught me to strive for perfection.
Working with one’s hands was held in high regard in our home and my Grandfather and Uncles helped to train me in the use of tools and how to handle physical tasks that would normally be thought to be a man’s domain. My first experience of painting started on boats that we built ourselves and on sheetrock walls while renovating our house.