The Humble is Whole
Interview by Gwynned Vitello // Portrait by Megan Cerminaro
Hilary Pecis is an artist who captivates with her magical ability to bring vivid dreams to life. Her artwork creates enchanting dioramas that are filled with intricate details, capturing the imagination of viewers. Pecis has a remarkable talent for color, using it to create vibrant scenes or evoke a velvety glow when needed. Her meticulous use of patterns and grids unifies each painting, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the mood and even share their own favorite flowers or books. There is nothing ordinary about her artworks; in fact, they embody the beauty found in modesty. It’s not just your imagination if you detect traces of Matisse or Hockney in her pieces.
An Artist’s Journey: Finding Comfort in Aesthetics
When asked about her early artistic inclinations, Pecis reveals that her parents were not artists, but they encouraged her and her siblings to engage in imaginative play. They often handcrafted items and taught their children the value of resourcefulness. This upbringing instilled in Pecis a belief that there were endless possibilities as long as they could bring them to life. During high school, Pecis and her siblings were part of the vibrant punk scene in Redding, California, which nurtured their creativity and sense of style without relying on traditional consumption.
Transitioning to art school, Pecis had no specific genre in mind. It was her AP art program in high school, led by the influential teacher Ed Howland, that encouraged her to pursue art further. She went on to attend California College of the Arts, where she earned both her BFA and MFA. It was during her MFA years that her teacher, Linda Geary, suggested she maintain a separate side practice alongside her primary artwork. This side practice eventually shaped Pecis’ distinct painting style that she continues to pursue today.
The Artistic Process and Balancing Work
Pecis shares her early experiences of juggling multiple jobs while pursuing her career as an artist. In her pre-motherhood days, she preferred working evenings in restaurants to keep her days free for the studio. This separation between work and art provided her with a mental break. However, after her son was born, she took on a part-time position as a registrar in a gallery. This allowed her to be surrounded by inspiring artworks and discover delightful connections with fellow art enthusiasts.
Pecis acknowledges her exploration of black and white in her early student days, which resulted in ink and acrylic paintings of landscapes. While she enjoyed this experience, her practice gradually evolved to embrace vibrant colors. Although she occasionally attempts monochromatic work using shades of white, she finds it challenging as her natural inclination is to create colorful images that resonate with her style.
Landscapes, Portraits, and the Evolution of Style
Pecis expresses her fondness for landscape paintings, which she feels most passionate about. She seamlessly transitions between landscapes and still life, appreciating the unique challenges and unexpected surprises each genre offers. Exploring both genres also allows her to delve into the rich history of painting and the interplay between landscape and personal objects.
While she does enjoy portraiture, Pecis approaches it in her own distinctive way. Instead of painting faces, she conveys a sense of personal connection by capturing someone’s surroundings. This approach aligns with her artistic style and vocabulary of mark making, through which she aims to create an immediate recognition.
The Process, Inspiration, and Choice of Subjects
When it comes to her artistic process, Pecis primarily works from photographs she takes herself. If she comes across an image taken by someone else that captures her interest, she seeks permission to use it as a reference. Starting with a loose sketch on the canvas, she allows the painting to evolve organically, often deviating from her initial vision. This unpredictability adds to the magic of the creative process.
Pecis acknowledges that her artworks are rich in detail, yet they never feel overwhelming. She acknowledges her intuitive “call and response” approach to editing, working on multiple paintings simultaneously. As for the duration of each piece, she prefers not to set strict time frames, allowing the artwork to unfold naturally.
The Choice of Paint and the Size of the Canvas
Pecis mentions her preference for Nova Color, a locally made brand of acrylic paint. Introduced to it by her husband, Andrew Schoultz, who is also an artist, Pecis finds the quality of Nova Color paint excellent and reasonably priced. Regarding canvas size, Pecis finds joy in painting both big and small. While larger canvases offer a more immersive experience, smaller ones provide a different kind of intimacy. She feels no pressure to paint on a specific scale and chooses size based on the information she wants to incorporate into the painting.
The Significance of Brands and Book Titles
One striking aspect of Pecis’ paintings is her intentional inclusion of brand names and book titles. She confirms that staying accurate to the imagery is essential to her artwork, though she allows herself some liberties in terms of colors and highlighted elements. Symbolic use of the written alphabet and other recognizable elements adds a layer of immediate recognition. Pecis often selects subjects based on her personal affinity for elements found within the original image.
Incorporating Photography and Finding Relaxation
Pecis relies on photographs as references and sources of inspiration for her paintings. In today’s digital world, where everyone takes countless photos, she curates a collection of favorite images to utilize in her artworks. As for relaxation, Pecis finds solace in running, both on roads and trails. During her runs, she captures numerous photos that often find their way into her landscape and streetscape paintings.
The Studio Environment and the Influence of San Francisco and Los Angeles
Pecis describes her studio as a space dedicated to painting, where she spends her set hours focusing on her artwork. Her studio is relatively small, and she appreciates the cozy feeling of being surrounded by vibrant colors. Flowers and fruit are often present, providing quick references for painting inspiration. Moreover, the presence of her dog and other animals in the building, shared with other artists, creates a friendly and supportive environment.
Pecis acknowledges the influence of both San Francisco and Los Angeles on her artistic journey. While she cherishes her memories of San Francisco, she believes that her current location in Los Angeles has provided her with a slower, brighter, and more inspiring atmosphere. If given the chance, she would choose to maintain her creative base in Los Angeles.
Upcoming Shows and the Influence of the Pandemic
Looking ahead, Pecis has an exciting lineup of shows and projects. She has a solo exhibition at Timothy Taylor Gallery in London in late spring/early summer. Additionally, her artwork will be featured in group exhibitions at David Kordansky Gallery and Jack Shainman’s Kinderhook Gallery. Pecis is also working on a public art project with Art Production Fund that will be displayed at 30 Rock in New York City. In the summer, she will hold a solo show at Halsey McKay in East Hampton.
Discussing the impact of the pandemic on her work, Pecis shares that while gallery shows were limited, she found herself creating and exhibiting more than ever before. With fewer distractions, Pecis focused on her art, making the most of the circumstances. She acknowledges that the pandemic prompted a shift to online platforms, where art could be appreciated despite not being experienced in person. Pecis also recognizes the importance of physical viewing and eagerly looks forward to the opportunity to visit museums again.
Artistic Reflections on a Changing World
Pecis reflects on how the pandemic and the increasing interconnectedness of our world have influenced the art sphere. She mentions the limitations of viewing art online, but also expresses gratitude for the accessibility it provided during the challenging early stages of the pandemic. Platforms like Instagram have been instrumental in showcasing lesser-known artists, giving them a platform to share their work with a broader audience. Pecis believes that the desire to experience art in person has only grown stronger due to the limitations imposed by the pandemic.
Motherhood and Sources of Inspiration
As a mother, Pecis acknowledges that her punctuality has improved, guiding her to work within set timelines. She has learned to prioritize what truly matters and eliminate unnecessary distractions. Embracing a more minimalistic approach to life, she cherishes her roles as a mother, wife, studio artist, and runner.
Artistic Travel and Future Endeavors
While Pecis appreciates traveling, she does not rely on it as the sole source of inspiration. The last year has shown her that inspiration can be found everywhere, even within a limited radius. As the world gradually opens up, Pecis eagerly awaits the opportunity to visit museums and enrich herself with physical art experiences.
The interview concludes with a glimpse into Pecis’ upcoming exhibitions, including her solo show at Timothy Taylor Gallery in London, and her optimistic outlook on a world that is slowly healing from the pandemic’s impact.
Hilary Pecis is an artist who effortlessly weaves magic into her paintings, captivating viewers with her vibrant scenes and attention to detail. Her journey as an artist, from supportive childhood experiences to formal education and a thriving career, offers rare insights into her creative process, inspirations, and artistic preferences. Pecis’ optimism and dedication to her craft shine through in her willingness to adapt and create amid challenging times. We eagerly anticipate her upcoming exhibitions and the continued evolution of her remarkable artwork.
1. How does Hilary Pecis find inspiration for her artworks?
Hilary Pecis finds inspiration for her artworks through her photographs, personal experiences, and surroundings. She curates a collection of favorite images that serve as references for her paintings.
2. Can you provide more information about Hilary Pecis’ upcoming exhibitions?
Hilary Pecis has a solo show at Timothy Taylor Gallery in London in late spring/early summer. She will also have work in group shows at David Kordansky Gallery and Jack Shainman’s Kinderhook Gallery. Additionally, Pecis is working on a public art project with Art Production Fund that will be displayed at 30 Rock in New York City.
3. How has the pandemic affected Hilary Pecis’ artistic process and outlook?
The pandemic has had a profound impact on Hilary Pecis’ artistic process. With limited opportunities for gallery shows, she explored new avenues for creativity and exhibited her work more frequently. Pecis also recognized the value of online platforms in sharing art during the initial stages of the pandemic, but she eagerly anticipates the return to physical exhibitions and museum visits.
4. How has motherhood influenced Hilary Pecis’ art practice?
Motherhood has provided Hilary Pecis with a sense of focus and efficiency in her art practice. It has allowed her to prioritize her time and eliminate unnecessary distractions, resulting in a more streamlined and meaningful artistic journey.
5. Where does Hilary Pecis draw inspiration from for her choice of subjects and symbols?
Hilary Pecis draws inspiration from personal affinity and her own aesthetic preferences when selecting subjects and symbols for her artworks. She delights in incorporating elements that resonate with her and convey a sense of recognition to the viewer.