We had the good fortune of connecting with Séraphine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Séraphine, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
To me, “giving up” on anything has never been an option.
Opening my eyes each morning, is just a new invitation to “keep going”, as your inquiry puts it.
If I want to get to a certain point by a certain time, then I’m the only person who can do it. Life as a painter is my journey.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I consider myself a fine art painter, not a commercial painter. What that means to me is that I paint because I must. I am not creating my visual story because I must sell them to survive however I do paint them to survive. This has never been easy. My family believed there was something wrong with me as I had an unknown (at the time) “problem”, today labeled dyslexia.
I wanted to become a surgeon because I loved the detail hand shills of dissections in high school biology. But I knew I’d never get through all the book learning. Then I went to Europe after high school. Seeing how paintings were protected in the museums, I understood that the people of the past were speaking to me. Mankind might kill the creators but their works are protected. I bought some german watercolors (or gauche) on that trip. I began trying to copy details I saw in paintings. I was fascinated by the real looking pearls, and fur.
Upon my return to the US and college, I began studying fine art. In New Orleans, Louisiana oil paints never dried due to the humidity. My instructor, Allen Jones, introduced me to a new paint called acrylic. During my freshman year, I entered a 5’x4′ acrylic painting into a New Orleans Museum exhibition and was accepted into my first exhibit. My instructor was also in the event. He wanted to know if I was there to see his work. I said, “No, I’m here to see my work.” He then put me in the classes with the senior class students. It was then my family began to “see me”.
My mother wanted to introduce me to a gallery owner in the French Quarter. I said no, I wanted to “make it on my own”. Little did I know that the owner was an heir to the SEARS empire. Getting to where I am today, in my opinion, might have happened then but “I did it my way”, through art festivals, small gallery exhibits, getting accepted into the Santa Barbara Art Association and more. With each painting and acceptance of my work, my confidence grew.
I didn’t overcome challenges, I took each one on, and grew from each. I have never felt I could do anything but deal day to day with every one. Without each experience, I would not be who I am today and tomorrow.
I have about 14 journals which I began in middle school (jr. hight) but this past year I have been writing about thoughts I’d like to pass on to other artists. I have been adding them to a book of quotes from Van Gogh to his brother, VINCENT VAN GOGH CREATIVE INSPIRATION. I call my version VINCENT AND ME.
You see, I too was sent away from my family, at age of (11) eleven, and in college hospitalized on the psychiatric floor of a hospital. where I continued to paint.
Recently I was asked, Why do you paint and exhibit if you hardly sell your work. My reply was almost immediate.
“Immortality. My paintings are a record of my life, a diary. My paintings are proof into the future that I existed. I have no immediate family. I want my paintings, my stories, to speak to those who see them. They are my voice, my song, my dance, my communications. Van Gogh never sold one painting and yet he is still inspiring today.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We might go to my favorite beach in Ventura CA, to Ananacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, to a couple of particular private meditation mountain areas where I know no one ever goes in Los Padres Forest Mountains near Cuyama Valley or to an isolated tiny hot springs near Ojai CA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Not necessarily in this order: Florette Geismar Margolis, Georgia O’Keeffe, Carlos Castaneda, author of THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, Charlotte & Katala Black Elk, Vickie Vessier, and Rodney Buckner, my first painting instructor, Allen Jones, and Betty Sarr, mixed-media artist.
Facebook: Seraphine Segal