When you quickly look at someone, regardless of relationship, what do you see? Do you see everything, their entire body, their entire soul all in one glimpse. No, in that one look you can only manage to distinguish a few elements of their face and a general outline of their body. Say this was a chance encounter, when thinking back how do you fill in the details of that person. For most those missing or hidden details of the human body would be filled in by either a blur or with the features of someone we are already familiar with. However, Winston Chmielinski fills in those detail with wildly inventive colors and brush strokes.
I suppose you could say that Boston native, Winston Chmielinski, paints portraits, but it is the explosions of paint make his pieces completely unique. At the age of 19, Winston has an incredible future in "capturing the myriad of colors in the human figure" ahead of him. He has already amassed an amazing collection, and as he continues to create and explore his vision will only become clearer.
Recently, Winston was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Winston Chmielinski (WC): A visual response to what I see, feel, and dream up on a day to day basis, with a touch of vanity for compositional cohesion.
OA: I really enjoy the titles of your pieces. How do you approach giving a piece a title as opposed to leaving it untitled?
WC: My more recent paintings have often been accompanied by a short musing, not necessarily a description, but just the initial idea fleshed-out for a piece. So, naturally, the titles become just as important to the painting as the paint on its surface. The idea may still not be readily apparent to the viewer, but for me, I can use each painting as a marker, and as "responses" I've thus sorted out some struggles in my mind so I can then move on.
OA: Many of your pieces are focused on human subjects. Where do you find your subjects, are they from photos, magazines, etc? Do you always start with a point of reference?
WC: Who the subjects are is unimportant, because I impose my own emotions and feelings onto them; without question however I'm most inspired by how a human figure correlates with its surroundings, and in searching for the right figure or face for my paintings, I scour everything from magazines to old (and new) personal photos.
OA: Do you have a specific color palette that you utilize? Do you ever use color to evoke a specific emotion in the viewer?
WC: Looking back on my work I do see "color trends," but as I develop I've begun to explore and push myself away from such a tendency. However I feel that my color choices have always incorporated some sort of strong juxtaposition, as what I feel are my greatest moments are often the first pigments to touch the white surface, pure and vibrant. Color will always evoke an emotion, but when I am painting, my choices don't seem conscious -- instead they come directly from an idea, and are directed by impulse, rather than anything planned. It's a move from trial-and-error painting to having more confidence in my own ability.
OA: What role do you think "new media" (i.e. blogs, on-line galleries, pdf zines, etc) has played in your early success?
WC: Everything. Knowing that people were affected by my works on-line(through communities like deviantart.com) gave me the confidence to then bring my work in person to small venues. I'd even venture to say that most of what's out there on my artwork -- the recent Juxtapoz artist profile, and small features across the web -- have all stemmed from the communities to which I belong, and people spreading the word.
OA: What's next for Winston Chmielinski?
WC: My new years resolution was simply to paint more, so I guess I'm just as curious!
OA: In a recent interview, when asked how you approach the challenges of life, coffee was the first thing you mentioned. What is you favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
WC: There's this little antiquated Chinese bakery on Bayard St in Chinatown, NYC, which has the strongest (and cheapest) Chinese-style coffee and which serves these delicious, scarily-doughy buns that are always steaming hot. I like to sit there, watch the numbers in the ancient cash register spin around, guess the collective age of all the old men who work there, and dip pieces of that virgin dough into my black black coffee.
OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? What type of music do you enjoy and does music ever affect your work in any way?
WC: I have to listen to music while I paint. Not just background noise either, mind you, because background noise is my pet peeve and my headphones are noise-canceling just for that reason. I can't give you a genre, but when I sit down to paint, I know exactly what I want to listen to... another one of those strange impulses that is highly directed by mood, atmosphere, and my focus at that very moment. Some of my all-time favorites: Blonde Redhead, Broadcast, CocoRosie, Sleater-Kinney, M.I.A; some new obsessions: The Tough Alliance, Plaid, Juvelen.