The lovely Camille Rose Garcia, at her woodlands home.
Camille Rose Garcia is one of today’s top artists, creating surreal fantasies of darkly narrative works which pack a gloriously mindful punch. Her works are a trip into her own twisted theme park, a riot with neons and pastels, layered depth and contrasting dripping blacks. At any given moment – circus stripes, dashes of glitter, dangerous icicles or swirling highlights may surround her personas, alive with dreamy visions and forest critters. Creepy cartoon children and dancing polar bears are found fighting against a polluted wasteland and corporate greed. And sometimes, her signature hand lettering will add words of perspective in a graphicallly wonderful way.
Never afraid to make a statement through her art, Camille has a proven track record of moving, satirical and thoughtful bodies of work. These issues need to be addressed and what better way than through the lens of art? Her latest works are a bit of a direction change, interpretations of the classic tales – Snow White and Alice In Wonderland, published in their own editions. These document the versatility Camille’s imagination has – critical yet celebratory of life’s vivid contradictions. From her Tragic Kingdom series with its muted blue and brown based palette to her current pink and purple lively Alice works – she evolves and plunges into her next phase with always promising results.
Camille currently has a wondrous room of her Down The Rabbit Hole paintings on exhibit at the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, (below). Painted purple walls are trimmed with her spot illustrations throughout the space. It’s enlightening to see her watercolors up close, complete with their penciled sketch beginnings.
We’ve included some cropped, detail shots of her art here, as well as complete works from through out Camille’s career.
My favorite art memory from my childhood is …
I used to make these miniature dolls, I made a green felt “Kermit the Frog” doll that was about 3 inches tall. I was probably around five years old. It turned out REALLY good, and I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m really onto something.” Anyway, my mom had it up until a few years ago, it just disappeared, but whenever I would look at it it took me right back to that moment.
My interest in art/painting started …
My mother is a painter/sculptor so we always had art materials around. My parents met in art school in San Francisco, so I would say my home environment was very bohemian growing up. I was always interested in art and from the time I could walk and think I always knew I would be doing something creative. I collected books as a child, Dr. Seuss, Edward Gorey. I thought maybe I would write and draw books.
What made your parents move from San Francisco to Orange County?
My parents went from San Francisco to the Peace Core, they were stationed in Peru for 4 years. When they moved back my father wanted to go to film school in Los Angeles. I was born in Los Angeles during this time. They divorced when I was one, and my mom moved us to Orange County when I was 5 because they were starting to bus kids to far away schools and she was a single mom, so for logistical reasons I guess.
I am often inspired and motivated by …
My dreams. If I keep my eyes shut for a while in the morning, I can recall the dream in full and I can write it down. I am also an avid daydreamer, so driving in the car I usually will get a whole scene playing out, like a little movie. Ideas usually come to me when I am not trying to think about them, they are like little gifts from my subconscious mind.
If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …
Wow, there are so many. My artist pal would be Frida Kahlo and I would have her teach me how to make Mole’ while we drank tequila. My Musician pal would be David Bowie and we would take mushrooms and travel to outer space in zig-zaggy jumpsuits. My author pal would be Phillip K. Dick, and we would escape from Mars and fly back to Earth and kill all of the robots with our resistance army.
The tip or art technique that has helped me the most is ….
Well, my mother taught me the most about painting, and she always said the first three layers of a painting always look like shit. So you have to get past those first three, and that is when you have really just started.
In your large Snow White paintings – they had an incredible layer of thick glossy resin?
Why did you choose to finish them this way? What did it entail?
I paint in acrylics, but I do an oil based coating over the top. What it does, scientifically, is it creates a different kind of light refraction on the surface of the paint that brings out a lot of the detail. It’s like when you wet a stone and you can see all of the intricacies, but when it’s dry it looks kind of normal. So that’s why I finish them that way. I do it myself in the studio, but the paintings have to be laid out flat in a dust free environment. Also the brush is very expensive, pure sable.
If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …
Probably that giant Olmec head from Mexico, but it would probably curse me. I saw it in Los Angeles and it had such a presence, this buried relic from an ancient civilization that was for sure in touch with intergalactic beings.
My current favorite piece of my own art is …
It’s always the last one I worked on, so it would be “A Ghost is Born”. (below)
My ultimate project or fantasy is …
A stop-motion animated film. It has always been my dream, and I kick myself repeatedly for never going to film school.
I am currently working on …
A top secret book project! I will leak it on my blog in the next few months, but I can’t divulge much now. I’m basically writing and Illustrating a new book.
For the last few years you have been working on smaller works. We are wondering if you have plans to return to the larger paintings soon ?
I am doing a show at the Michael Kohn Gallery in the Spring of 2014 in Los Angeles, so I am currently working on large scale paintings for that show. I actually prefer to work large, it’s just logistically more of a challenge. I paint on wood, so the paintings get significantly heavier. I want to do a piece that is the same size as Picasso’s “Guernica”, but it’s so humongous I would need a train to transport it!
The last song I choose to listen to was …
Tom Wait’s “Jockey Full of Bourbon”. In my other fantasy life I play stand-up bass in his band.
The last book I couldn’t put down was …
George Saunders’ “Fox 8”. He’s such a fascinating writer, and I love the short story format.
One of my favorite words is …
I actually collect words for future use. I write down ones I like, or phrases. So here are a few that I am trying to work into things: crepuscular, ungulate, mummery, leviathan.
One of my favorite smells is …
Gardenias, a good taco stand, a California forest in the summer.
I can’t live without …
Wine, my husband, my doggies. Oh, and my hands. I can’t paint very good with my feet. Not yet, anyway.
It’s not hip, but I really love …
Reading crafting blogs, making pickles.
A recent favorite motto (or quote) of mine is …
“Still foolin’ em!”
My dad used to say that all the time. Kind of like, ‘Fake it till you make it”.
If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in…
Mexico, near the ocean, because I like ancient ghosts and warm water. There seems to be less magic in the US, so I have to make my own, but it gets tiring! I like places where magic already exists.
If you had to name a hero or heroine, an iconic well-known person in your lifetime, who would that be and why?
Whoa, this is a hard one. The problem is most of our “iconic and well known” persons don’t do anything significant. I guess I’ll choose a lady of rock and roll, Stevie Nicks. Why? She seems to channel something ancient and powerful in her voice. She is like the Olmec head.
You relocated to the wilderness in Northern California a while ago. I have read that it was “to escape impending doom”…
What doom was this?
Ahh, the big question. I relocated to the woods because I had lived in Los Angeles my whole life and felt like I didn’t have any tangible self-sustaining skills, and I wanted to learn some. Plus I wanted to live amongst nature before it was all gone. The doom I refer to is the collapse of western civilization, that will be brought on by a combination of peak oil, population overshoot, scarcity of natural resources, and energy scarcity. Throw in a great extinction event too, because that is also happening. The modern society that we have designed around cheap oil doesn’t work when the oil get’s too expensive. And the biggest problem is that capitalism is an unsustainable business model because in depends on infinite growth but we live on a finite planet. So there it is in a nutshell.
Who do you live with and how do you feel living in the woods has affected your mindset?
Do you get “cabin fever” very much?
I live with my husband and our two dogs, I want chickens and goats but we travel too much. Living in the woods mainly has made me notice a lot more things when I go to the city, like how really loud and bright and fast civilization is. When you are immersed in nature, you realize how dark, quiet and slow the world naturally is. It’s a more subtle existence. But I love going to the city, I do miss it. It just makes me kind of sad that it is like a beautiful mirage.
I don’t get cabin fever and I never get bored because there is always so much to do around here. I am outside half the day every day even in winter. I get more of a “computer fever” than a cabin fever.
Any last words to share?
Come and visit my blog, there are behind the scenes in the studio and I am going to start doing tutorials for the people. Art school is too expensive!
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