Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique  discovering  thesis and processes behind the work.








Conversation between Jeffrey Millett and Olivia Ramos.


Jeffrey Millett


MILLETT: yo yo


RAMOS: heyya


how's it going?




I'd like to start with the self portrait, only because it is such a huge jump, at least technically speaking, from our previous conversation about a previous self portrait.


ok lets do it


something particular about it?


Yes - particularly I see a shift in you with this new work, perhaps emotionally, perhaps strategically... not sure.


as if you are letting go of control of brush and outcome


would you agree?


emotionally, content wise yes


technically.. its far more precise in making - meaning the infrastructure or base of the painting is more 'refined' then over time


it changes as I work on it more


maybe that is where the letting go comes into play - i kinda work to destroy the representation of myself (literally) and rely on, an experience or moment


intuitively, refining and letting go is an oxymoron ... but maybe you mean you have refined the act of letting go?


I'm looking now at the first woman, the sad one with smaller breasts


it is hard to think refined but it is much more advanced technically.. maybe I'm not making any sense


its the process is contradictory but letting it play out is part exploring - my own experiences, feelings or emotions thru the application of paint


*the process is contradictory but letting it play out lets me explore


what do you mean by "the process is contradictory"?


meaning - having a solid structure for the painting allows me to play (technique-wise) with the paint


its creative destruction; the foundation allows for the build up of the paint and, the way i think about it


this offers opportunities to destroy or manipulate the image to how i see fit


working from photos i have something very finite for reference, a recording of an event


using that, i transfer for that to canvas, in what i referenced before as kinda of infrastructure - a base or foundation


this kinda sets the template for rest of the process to unfold over time


i feel like I'm rambling - does this make sense?


yes it does and it makes me curious about your choice of content


women and self portraits






these women are mostly strangers or don't even exist?


strangers, images i see that catch my eye or catch me in a moment or emotional state that makes me want to record the event


they act as an emotional depot


one could say a diary in a way


a record of an emotional response or documentation of an event in my life


hmm I've never heard you put it that way


this idea of a diary


a diary of responses to things you encounter


specifically women you encounter


coupled with self-portraits... I don't know, I feel like the high-level description is a bit broad


are the self-portraits part of the diary?


yes - all the self portraits I've named with a particular emotion or experience, or feeling attached to it


kinda dumb


not dumb


would you say this work is just for you?


the goal was to document 25 words that described my experience or feeling - then paint it


ha - that such a loaded question im not sure how to answer that


my painting have always been very personal


if others enjoy - then that is added benefit; i just feel like im recording my experience thru paint


even the women  it's less about them and more about me


as awful as it sounds


haha on that note, lets talk about "The Ugly"




what does that say about you?


a lovely accident haha


it kinda of haunts me this piece


me too - I mean this woman is something else


where did she come from?


and I don't mean what picture


I mean what emotion


what reaction


most of the images i paint from are these beautiful people, models, celebrities o my social media feeds


so when i save one to paint there something very raw that hits me - it could be desire, sex, pain, love, relief


so when i confront that 'image' it is less about what i or we see  or what that particular person or image they want to convey to the world


and instead i tackle this idea of the beautiful person with my own


with my own...


none of the above tells me anything about this piece


I am getting the feeling that you are playing safe a little


and perhaps in general


nah i mean why i have nothing to loose


i'm not trying to be coy or anything


sure but you are also not taking much of a risk


i don't see what you are getting at


I'll tell you


the way you describe the work, the subject matter as well, is relatively safe


allow me to define safe in this context


by safe I mean, there is nothing to argue against, there is nothing to discuss really, it is all too personal, too general, too meaningless in a way


at least in the way you describe it


am I wrong?


what are you passionate about?


round and round we go


hmm let me take a stab at "The Ugly" - if I had painted her, and perhaps part of me wishes I had - It would be about betrayal, about the hidden, about being seduced by a complete lie... could be that she was insecure... but I'll never know.


I didn't paint her and maybe I am projecting my own experience, which says some things about me... but that is the point no?


if these are about you... then what about you?


why is my narrative important? isn't it enough to have painted it - and let the viewer decide or even own the painting for whatever they want to make it


your narrative isn't possible if i define mine is it?


do you want me to identify with the painting or to identify with you?


let me ask you something - do you identify with Bacon or with any particular painting?


isn't it him and by identifying with him you love all his work?


aren’t you answering your question


yes I am - but I am asking you


by identifying with a painter, a film, a novel, etc. you then can relate to its author


you mean painting?


no i mean by relating to any creative work, you are identifying w its author to some degree


can you answer my question about Bacon?


don't you love him more than his work?


isn't Bacon and what he believed more powerful than any single work?


i wouldn’t agree w that; for me its about the work; the man is just a vessel, a medium


I'm not sure I believe you


the man had a purpose


of course


and his paintings speak to that purpose; recordings, documents - experiences


the purpose is a thing of it's own, a thing that could be discuss without the paintings... the recordings, documents, are merely artifacts - they are not experiences.


I am not going to ask what your purpose is - I am simply wishing we had such a thing to discuss


yes i don’t want to argue


I guess - I think you do have a purpose, but you don't want to articulate it


and in not doing so, it might have a hard time evolving


maybe not


you know you wouldn't try to get away with this in architecture school