My interview on 
(Published Online: Dec. 2006)

As written on

amy glasscock ... in her own words
 "Sometimes it is like a chess game figuring out how to rearrange my paintings to make the new one fit. But it is really nice to walk into a room and see it there looking at me." 

amy glasscock is an amazing visual artist from Texas. Amy is also very good at articulating what it means to be an artist. I asked her a few questions about her artistic process, and she gave me gems.

1. What typically inspires you, i.e. what are your 'muses'? (if you need, feel free to give a specific example)

I have a lot of "muses" for my work I suppose. My main "muse" is God though. And I know that that must sound all churchy and weird, but it is true.  I donít know how to separate my art from my relationship with God.  They canít be mutually exclusive.  God shows me things all the time.  He has given me eyes to see his beauty even in the minutia of life.  And I think that mostly it is his spirit that guides my decisions and desire to paint certain things and in that process he teaches me things.  He gives my work meaning.  And God is the source of meaning so it makes sense.  And obviously this happens more on some paintings than others.  But I think about being an artist without God and I canít quite picture it.  I donít know how I would get ideas. And it seems so meaningless without him.  It is just a platform for hatred and political propaganda and egos.

But the way ideas come to me sorta happens like this:  I see something that captures my attention.  This can be anything from a power line to a mountain, but it is usually outside in nature.  And I see itís beauty.  Right there in the everyday hustle and bustle of life I see it.  Anyway, in that moment it is as if a light goes on and the image is burned into my brain.   And I know that I want to paint it.  Sometimes I have my camera and I take a photo.  Other times I get the idea and then go back and take a photo.  Sometimes the idea comes before the image but usually it is the image that comes first and then God shows me the meaning.  And somehow I store up these ideas in my head and I donít forget them.  I am always thinking about what is next even while I am still working on a painting.  And while I work on a painting, sometimes it seems like the topic of the painting is coming up everywhere: in songs, in Biblical scripture, in sermons, in books and even in conversations with friends.  God teaches me as I work.  A great example of this is my painting "We Shall See. (Now we see in part, then we shall see fully.)"

I also see my art as a way to relate to people.  I love making it, but I also love how it connects me to people.  It gives us something to share.  And as a result I can share with them what God taught me in the process of making a specific image.  Whether it is by writing about it on my website or by just being able to tell someone in person why I painted a man on a bus or a church under a tree. 


2. What does your artistic process look like? How long does it take you,   what do you feel, how do you approach each day with a piece, etc?

I already talked about my artistic process above.  But a painting usually takes me at least a month to complete.  Which means it is at least 24 hours of work.  The bigger the pieces are the more time it takes though.    

As I work, I sort of go through mood swings.  I start out all excited about it.  Then in the middle I get all frustrated.  Then, when I start to like it I get a little pensive.  There is always an element of the fear of failure inside of you no matter how many paintings that you have done before. Mostly it is the fear that you will mess it up.  Painting is a lot about facing your fears I think.  First of all there is the fear of even trying it which I call- "the fear of the blank canvass".  Eventually you are brave enough to get past that.  Then when you get pretty good at it you start to fear messing it up.  You have to face that fear in every painting as you push beyond it and take a chance at messing it up to make it great.  I call this the "better to love principle"- you know like the idea- ďitís better to love and loose than to never love at all".  You gotta take the risk of wasting all that work and look at it like "I am being brave and going for something great" rather than just something good.  Sometimes you mess up but usually itís worth it I think.  You learn something new and you feel like you have accomplished something when you kick your fear in the crotch like that.  Itís happened to me lots of times.  Like in my Sea Life painting for instance. Painting that hose was one of my bravest moments yet I think.  I truly love that painting. 


3. What do you feel when you have finished a piece?

A painting is a series of decisions- one after another.  Eventually your final decision is made and it is always really exciting to finish it.  Especially when it is actually dry and I get to figure out where to hang it.  Sometimes it is like a chess game figuring out how to rearrange my paintings to make the new one fit.  But it is really nice to walk into a room and see it there looking at me.  It is difficult to stop scrutinizing it though- to get out of that decision making process of "what should I change nextĒ" and just enjoy it.  But it really feels good to know that your hard work paid off and you have something to show for it.  Plus it makes my apartment a happier place.


4. In your words and opinion, how do you define 'art'?

I wish I knew the answer to this question.  It is right up there with the question of predestination in my head.  On both, I think I know the answer but I am still not confident that I know why it is right. 

So here goes: 

Art is using materials to make an image in order to communicate a message.  As far I understand there is a continuum that exists between the artwork that is literally descriptive, like realism, and the artwork that is ideologically descriptive like abstract expressionism.  To me the later, is harder to dive into.  I have a hard time with pure abstraction and minimalism because I think it is elitist.  And by that I mean that only an elite few can speak the language that it is speaking. Or, in other words, not everyone gets the symbolism so it leaves people feeling rejected, or stupid and so in the end art starts to lose itís credibility with the common man.  It starts to be equated with a pile of poo, because, letís face it, sometimes it literally is a pile of poo, or ďfeciesĒ if you are in a gallery.  It seems like some artists are speaking in tongues and the rest of us need an interpreter.  So that is why I chose to use symbols from everyday life and also why I enjoy realism more.  I am all for using the principles and elements of design and having good composition but if that is all you have then it doesnít amount to much because no one but a small audience can relate to it. And maybe that is ok.  Maybe some art is supposed to just reach the elite.  But to me there is something beautiful and mysterious and powerful about that which is universal.  Everyone has seen a tree and light and shadows.  Everyone has memories interacting with these things.  Therefore, everyone has a place to start when they are looking at the piece.  There is something welcoming about the familiar that allows the viewer to feel safe to proceed and peer into this new little world and wonder.   It is more like having coffee with a friend than dancing with an alien, if you know what I mean.

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"A person's world view almost always shows through in his creative output, 
however, and thus the marks on the things he creates will be different."
Francis Schaeffer, "How Should We Then Live?"