Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Abu Dhabi Future
76 X 56 in.
Mixed Media on Canvas
RAMOS: Hi Jay
Thank you for joining us
RAMOS: your images are really magical
are they paintings or collages or digital productions?
WATSON: Thank you. I hope you like them. They are mixed media. I combine all of my favorite techniques. I paint then photograph parts of my painting. Then I print multiples copies on to canvas to cut up and glue back on the the original. I digitally alter certain parts to create different effects. I repeat the process over and over just to paint on them again. I also use metallic vinyl to make the lights in the buildings look as though they turn of and on.
RAMOS: oh wow - that is laborious
and through this process you arrive at an image you didn't plan?
or is there an initial map?
WATSON: It is very laborious with all of the little details. Each piece takes a couple months.. I always start with an idea in my head of what I want it to look like but throughout the process I find some many things in the piece that excite me and I just go with it. When I'm adding the different layers to each piece I end up doing things that weren't originally planned.
I always look for those moments in the process that surprise me and I feel that is where the art is.
RAMOS: the subject matter seems to be consistent - Utopian or Dystopia projections of cities
tell me about that
WATSON: ha yes. Great descriptions. I think of a place that i have yet to visit and dream about that place. I like each image to be realistic with a mix of fantasy. Like I'm visiting the place in a dream.
I think back to when I was a kid and the books I used to read with far off lands and how that would spark my imagination. I wanted this series to look like actual locations but more magical as if a kid's mind was taking off while reading a story of a distant wonderland.
76 X 56 in.
Mixed Media on Canvas
RAMOS: i wonder...
why cities that you can actually go to?
why not cities that don't exist
like the city that is 100% sustainable
or the city in Mars
or the city in the center of the Earth?
WATSON: Well, I am intrigued by these places as they are and sometimes feel like they don't exist until I actually see them for myself. Its like hearing a tale of a city different from my own. Picking up different pieces of this tale from people who lived there, or visited, maybe something I read on the Internet or hear on the news.
These things, in my mind, add to the vision i have of each place. It becomes this great story. Until i am able to visit these places they still feel magical to me. I choose these places because I get excited things that i will someday be able to visit. I don't think I would get that extra element when creating a place that isn't actually there
RAMOS: that is understandable - so in a way it is a collage of place-specific stories that have reached your mind one way or another
WATSON: exactly. They build in my mind over time and I tend to add elements of each place that can be completely ridiculous or silly to some but I feel thats what makes it more fun. Just dreaming
RAMOS: like a lucid dream
and a dream dream as well
that's what dreams are no?
bits and pieces all mixed into a new narrative
dreams are also experiences you can't fully control.
WATSON: yes I wanted each piece to look like the actual city but as if you were floating over them in a dream state traveling through different times in their histories
something that just seems so far off and too good to be true but when you wake up not all is lost. You can still go there
RAMOS: i am trying to figure out how this fits in the trajectory of art history
there is art about dreams and art about cities and art about dream cities
not sure if i can think of any artist that's doing dreams about cities
and i find that really intriguing
and sort of want to dig a little deeper
how do you feel about the city you live in?
WATSON: Miami is everything I thought it would be before I came to this city.
Full of color and freedom of expression to the fullest. You can certainly get lost in this city in more ways than one. If there is anything you want to do you in your life you will absolutely find it here.
RAMOS: that's so positive and optimistic
happy to hear that
did you make a piece about Miami before you go there?
WATSON: funny you should ask. Each city i do is kind of my way of visiting the place in my mind in hopes that it will become a reality. this one actually worked. i did the Miami piece and put it on Facebook which was later seen by a Miami based art broker who invited to visit Art Basel.
Then after four days she asked me to stay and continue working on my series of cities. I never went back. i had a couple friends pack up my things in my apartment in Atlanta and bring them down to me.
I knew this was only the beginning of my big adventure and I didn't need a second to think about it.
It was for my brother Stephen who lives here in Miami..
RAMOS: i have to see that piece
can you share the image?
WATSON: of course
Miami "City of Colors"
24 X 36 in.
Mixed Media on Canvas
RAMOS: oh wow that's awesome
WATSON: this the city as if you were facing downtown towards Brickell. South Beach wasn't what attract me to Miami like it is for most
thank you ^_^
RAMOS: have you thought about exaggerating realities of cities
or is that too much a depressing process?
WATSON: The buildings that seem to be on stilts, to me represent the 4th class if you will. The super rich and famous, the "untouchables"
RAMOS: well i guess that sort of answered the questions in a way
WATSON: haha yes to answer the question I like to try by researching each city but most of the time I don't have control over my excitement for certain elements in my pieces and tend to take left instead of right which I originally planned
sometime the color just pulls me in a direction or the way the lighting in the piece is done and if I like it enough thats what I go for.
I'd love to show you my pieces in person sometime you cant see the twinkle in the swarovski crystal stars or the metallic vinyl giving the effect that the city light are pulsating
there is a whole other magical element that a photograph does not capture
RAMOS: Jay i am amazed at how positive you are
how much you enjoy what you do
and how i can't get one negative peep out of you
and i'm not trying to, not really, but it is also not happening
WATSON: Life isn't easy for anyone and i've had my dark days of course but that doesn't make me smile
I think being an artist helps me in that way where i'm just so too excited by what is in front of me. I draw inspiration from so many things and sometime feel like i cant get enough and then I don't sleep hahaha