Jose Spencer: a patient gardener who paints on canvas
Jose, what do you find most challenging and most rewarding about being an artist?
The boundaries. You're trying to do something that has been done for so many years on a canvas. But yet, within those limits, you are making something new. The reward is when someone loves your work, it draws them in, and it's impossible to walk past. When they keep coming back to it, or to quote "can't live without it," that is very satisfying as an emerging artist.
Nature and emotion play an important role in your work. How do you continually draw inspiration from both, and what do you do to find new inspiration?
As an artist, I am inspired by what I see and what I feel. Nature is paramount in my life. As a gardener, I am significantly influenced by it, particularly climate change, which in turn is reflected in my art. The emotional connection is played out in my brushstrokes, describing an event or my memory of events both near and far, big and small. So I focus on the balance between trying to capture the moment and the lessons nature teaches you. I come from a different perspective; I wasn't raised around what you would quote as "nature." I grew up and spent most of my adult life in NYC, so my appreciation of "nature" is sacred, so I respect and value it very differently as a result.
What is your process like from start to finish? How long does it normally take you to complete a painting, and how much planning is involved?
Generally, a painting can come to life very quickly but can be ruined just as unexpectedly; it is about being in the right state of mind to allow the right creative energy to flow through. So being in that right space, having the right light for me, is essential.
It starts with a thought that goes to canvas, and then there is contemplation and reflection on my original idea or memory.
My paintings have depth, dimension, and sometimes multiples themes, so it can take about three to five months for me to complete, depending on the size of the work.
If you could collaborate with anyone creatively, who would it be?
That is a difficult question for me to answer definitively, I admire so many and for so many different reasons. I don't know; maybe it's because I was born and raised in New York. I feel that we all glow brighter because of our diversity because of other's influences in our lives.
What role do you think the artist plays in today's society?
I fear to envision today's society without the involvement of the artist. An artist can envision and motivate something that others typically cannot, and they give insight into emotions and thoughts, which can inspire change and growth.