I've been following this lovely lady's fantastic work for some time now and was elated that she agreed to share her thoughts and images with us this week.
Name: Holly Coulis
Where do you live, where is your studio?
Studio and home are in Brooklyn. Both in the Williamsburg/East Williamsburg area. We recently bought a used car, but before that we would walk everyday between the home and studio, which I miss. I've lived in the same apartment since 1999. It's starting to look like a real NY apartment. People always bring in more stuff than they get rid of I guess.
Who makes up your day to day world?
My husband, Ridley, mostly. We share a studio. Periodically I see friends, usually at openings, sometimes for dinner. But my favorite is to meet out for breakfast.
friends? partners? pets? kids?
We have no kids. I wish I had pets. I love animals. It would be great to have a dog and a cat. But NO PETS ALLOWED in my building. I have to resort to watching Youtube videos.
What’s an average studio day like?
Usually I get to the studio between 8:30 and 9:30 am and stay until 6 or 7pm. In the summer I leave a little earlier because there is no air conditioning and the heat makes it difficult to concentrate. I have a low tolerance for summer.
What do you listen to?
When I worked alone, I listened to documentaries. Now it's the radio and Spotify. It's a mix of Howard Stern, To the Point, Marc Maron. Music can vary from something classical to something country. The World Cup has just ended, sadly, and that was great studio listening.
What do you look at etc?
We have a small collection of art books. Some of my go tos are Milton Avery, Gary Hume, Jane Freilicher, William Nicholson, William Scott (the Williams). Sometimes I troll Tumblr. People put up some great images that I probably wouldn't find on my own. The thing about the internet is that you can end up with an inspiring image that you didn't go looking for.
What are you working on now? (What are you most excited about/ confounded by/ obsessed with?)
Right now I'm investigating these still-life paintings (how can I make a new one that is interesting to me...) and trying to find a way to bring the figure back into this new-ish way of painting. It's a bit tricky, but it's starting to make sense, I think. The newer paintings are so much about color, shapes and edges. But I'm not sure I want to paint the figure in that same way. I've been trying to make sense of it for myself.
What do you do when things aren’t going “right” or you’re having a fallow period in making/ thinking?
This is happening now, at least on one front. Usually, I start a drawing project of some sort. Either in pencil, ink, or oil pastels...any other medium besides paint, but those are my favorites. Sometimes these projects can last a while (a few months). Sometimes they feel like a colossal waste of time, but end up being fruitful in some important way. Plus I really enjoy drawing. Other times a trip to a museum or gallery will help, but not always. The Met is usually good for a boost - the Asian Art galleries are fantastic. There's a show up now called "Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy" through August 17 that I really want to see.
How do you sustain your creative life?
When I first arrived in NYC, I had a Photoshop retouching job. That lasted about 10 years or so, maybe a little less. After about 5 years it turned into a freelance job, which gave me more time to paint. But that skill set was valuable for picking up other freelance work over the years. At the moment, I am teaching adjunct at Pace University in Manhattan. I teach drawing, digital design, and illustration.
What advice would you give a young artist just starting out?
I'm sure young artists are tired of advice, but here's the only advice I have: Find a way to focus on your studio. Make your time there as clear and as meaningful as possible.