Growing out of the surface

Our art editor, Cynthia Close, recently spoke with Val Rossman, Issue #9’s featured artist. Here’s what she had to say about her creative process, influences on her art, and what she hopes to portray in her work.


What inspired you to create the paintings we published?

I am intrigued that we are often multi-tasking and focused on so many things all at the same time. I wanted to portray the feeling that so many disparate things can be going on all at once, yet each have its own reality.


Could you describe your creative process, and how you know when a work is finished?

My work always starts out very scribbly and free…either with paint or pastel and pencil. As I work there is a conversation between me and the piece almost as if we are getting to know one another with questions asked and answers given. It is very intuitive and organic. I love that process! I always know when a work is finished because it just feels like everything is in the right place. It is as if the work just grew out of the surface and always existed like that. There is nothing that is nudging at me to say that it doesn’t belong. There is a perfect harmony within the piece.


How do you feel about viewers experiencing your work digitally, like they do here, as opposed to seeing it on the walls of a gallery?

It is always better to see the real thing, but it is a great opportunity for many people to experience the artwork digitally and reach a broader audience. I do love the way the digital images are so luminous as well.


What are you working on now?

I am continuing to do paintings on aluminum; however, I am focused more on images that are organic as opposed to geometric. The paintings are more similar to my works on paper.


What is the best advice about making art you have ever received?

It is always important to follow one’s inner voice and not be bound by what the public likes…even if it means straying from comfortable pieces, you must go where the work takes you.


What is the first work of art you remember making?

I took art lessons as a kid and my parents and grandparents always would frame my things…not sure that they were art, but they made me feel like they were!


What artists have been important to your development as an artist?

There are so many…Matisse, Miro, Klee, Kandinsky, Diebenkorn, Frankenthaler, Hodgkin, Picasso, Rothko.


As an exhibiting artist, what has been your best or worst professional experience?

One of the best was having the opportunity to produce a drawing for an event held at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and know that I was working in the shadows of so many terrific artists.


How do you support yourself while you create or does the sale of your work support you financially?

I do sell my work regularly and have been for my 30-year career. I also teach part time at an art center outside Philadelphia. In addition my husband does pay for most of our major expenses.


What is your ideal creative weather? 

I kind of like when it is cloudy, misty, or just not a nice day. My studio is my refuge and place to be happy and get away. If the weather is too beautiful then I want to go outside and it is more difficult for me to stay focused.


Val Rossman has been working as a professional artist for over 30 years. During her career she has had more than 21 one-person shows and been in numerous group shows in Philadelphia, Vermont, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida and New York. She has won several prizes, including the Award for Excellence at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and at the Cheltenham Art Center Annual Painting Show. In addition, she has been on the faculty of Main Line Art Center for the past 20 years as a teacher of abstract art.

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