Profile of the Week: Samantha Proa (posted March 19, 2012)

Welcome to Portfolio of the Week. We are delighted to present Samantha Proa, from Laredo, Texas, USA. Samantha enjoys using her artwork to frame her experiences.

Please visit Samantha's to see more of her artwork. When you view Samantha's portfolio, be sure to click "View Full Size" below each piece or artwork to see it larger!

Join us now for this inspiring interview with Samantha:

How would you describe your art?

As an onlooker, I would describe my art as practice because that's what I feel it is. I don't ever really feel like one piece is finished. And I, personally, feel like it's a sort of inward look into what I'm thinking or feeling.

As an artist, I would say that my art is most definitely a story telling. I really enjoy being able to frame an experience that I've had, even if it's something as simple a picture I've run across somewhere. If I'm able to have someone stop and look, or even say or think, "oh, wow!" ... then my job is done.  

How long have you been an artist?

My right brain has always had the more domineering output. I remember at a very young age, maybe 5 or 6, making collages with construction paper and having this insatiable fascination with color and dainty details. Growing up, we were very poor so I made whatever I needed or wanted to play with. I remember even when playing with Barbie, I never cared about playing house or her love affair with Ken, I always wanted to decorate the the rooms and as soon as I was done, Barbie was put away (or stuffed under the bed in my case)! 

Art and being creative has always interested me and kept me out of trouble and when I really paid attention to my love for it, I was done for and I knew that I would do this for the rest of my life.   

I must say that having creative parents definitely helped a great deal!! My mother is a seamstress and craftswoman and my father is a painter, a carpenter  both are just creative geniuses ... and we just do it all because we love it so much. Being unable to do it professionally I think drove them both to stay so hungry for it and being witness to that made me appreciate it that much more.

What is your favorite medium and why?

My favorite medium, currently, is Watercolor. I just absolutely love the fluidity of it and the openess it offers me. I'm able to be expressive but precise and experimental, all at the same time. When I first started experimenting with watercolor, I was not at all experienced. I got my first set of Watercolors at a flea market for $1! (THE best purchase of my life!!!) But before that I was very interested in Photograhpy; needless to say, once I picked up a brush I RAN over to the dark side. Ha ha. I'm a painter now! My father bought me my very first set of Oil paints and he showed me how to use them. I've been hooked ever since. :)  

What are some of the challenges in working in your preferred medium?

I want perfection so I'm very hard on myself, but I also like to keep it fun and flowy. So, I have to separate my ideas or decide on what I want my work to look like before I start. I think people are a little bit too intimidated by the medium to really understand how much fun it is, and just how complex working with Watercolor can be. Therefore, I feel like, in my experience, sometimes audiences are fast to evaluate pieces done in Watercolor, both positively and negatively.

How did you learn to draw/paint?

I had drawn and painted before college but until I took courses at the community college, I didn't really know how to translate what I saw in front of me, technically speaking.

High school was absolutley the time when my imagination boomed and I was able to control and manipulate it when I got to college. With time and practice, I was able to achieve what I inteded.

Like I stated before, I'm very hard on myself so I don't ever settle when it comes to my art. I try and push myself as much as I can without compromising my style or the meaning of the work itself.  

Who or what has influenced your art?

There are various people and things that influence my art.   For one, the work of Frida Kahlo, and her life and passion.

My grandmother, and my mother and father have very particular tastes in art and attitudes toward life. That is something that has influenced my style. I am not very religious but I come from a culture that thrives on color and sound and taste so... my work HAS to have those things incorporated into them.

Being from a Mexican-American background and having grown up poor and kind of antisocial, I listened and I observed. I saw people in the streets and in my own house just trying to survive and struggling to be someone, to be something. These were my people, they were my family, they were me. And there was no way I could avoid putting that out there for the world to see as I did all that time ago.  

What inspires you?

I believe that people in general struggle on a daily basis. It's in our nature to work up to something. I also feel that it is a personal right to have your story told and, unfortunately, not everyone's story is heard or valued.

What inspires me is my childhood. In general I say that by meaning to include the stories of my family and everyone who was involved, or not involved for that matter. It's extremely personal and yet very familiar to a lot of people. The thing is that when someone looks at a work of art and feels what you felt it's almost like their story has been validated, and that drives me to paint in the first place.  

How do you make time for art?

Oy! I'm a working student currently, so there is not a lot of time to make anything other than classwork. But I try very hard to keep myself inspired and creative by making sure that anything I do in class is 100% me and not what I think might get me an A. 

With that said, I'm really trying hard to make myself put time aside to sit down and just have fun with art again. It's gotten really difficult to filter out what isn't art related and just focus, I guess that's one of the problems with growing up.

What is your favorite subject matter and why?

I really enjoy portraits, mostly faces. I think it's because I like that a face can say so much without too much information. I love doing stuff that is ironic in a way ... I like to paint fears or experiences in full out color so that it's approachable but still taboo. I think I like the idea of being bad and getting away with it because it's not an action, it's a representation. Going back to my culture, women are normally more conservative and I like to be opposite that in my work. I like to seem like I'm being obnoxious and rude and vulgar because ... I can. ;)

What's the best art advice anyone has ever given you?

There are a couple of words of wisdom that have been shared or found that I always keep in mind.:

1)  "You can either sleep and half ass your painting OR you can stay up all night, finish, get an A and be a real f***ing artist."Gil Rocha

2)  "We are only given a little spark of madness, we mustn't lose it." — Robin Williams.  

3)  "TU DALE GAS, HOMBRE!" — My uncle, Cochi. (It means "You, just go for it!")

Do you have any tips or advice for your fellow artists?

Be you, all day, everyday!  Also, never settle for less; value yourself and your story!! Practice, practice, practice!!!!!!!

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Samantha, thank you so much for sharing your profile, your feelings with us !! I highly admire your clear approach to your life and to people around you,I admire your are full of power and I wish you do not stop believe in yourself!!!!!

Thank you Samantha :o)))

Great stuff and I wish you all the best with your art studies.... keep up the great work.

Hi Meg... The link you  have here is still for Mike's profile...

Meg Mackenzie said:

Samantha, thank you so much for sharing this interview and your amazing artwork with us. I love your advice for fellow artists. It's simple yet so often we forget these things. I am a great admirer of your work. My favourite piece is Playground Confidential - I adore the mischief and playfulness that exudes from this painting. I wish you well with your artistic future!

Thanks for sharing the interview with us. Well done!

that is a wonderful interview I like your attitude and my favorite part was number one on the advice question , good stuff.

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