Inside the Studio

Galen Cheney

Favorite material to work with?
My preferred medium is oil paint, though experimentation with materials has long been an integral part of my art practice.  I like using materials that are flexible, changeable, and that I can get physical with.  I am currently laying plaster down as a base on my panels; this allows the paint to be very matte, and I can also scratch into it.

How many years as an artist?
I’ve been painting forever, though really made the decision to try to make a life out of it back in 1987.

Where is your studio?
My studio is in my house, on a dirt road in Central Vermont, USA.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Commit and take risks.  It’s better to make a really bad painting than to play it safe and try to make something pretty.  It’s the only way to get anywhere as a painter.  I have really listened to that advice, given to me concisely and somewhat wrenchingly by painter Michael Goldberg.  I still hear that voice when I’m painting.  I have, indeed, made a lot of bad paintings, but I’ve also grown and pushed myself further than I once thought possible.

Art school or self taught?
Both.  I did go to art school, though I feel like I’m teaching myself every time I pick up a brush.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I actually often listen to books on CD.  Since all I want to do is paint, I don’t get in as much reading as I would like.  So, listening while working helps satisfy that desire.  It is also very companionable.

What’s around the corner from your place?
Horses, cows, and pigs.

Where can we find you outside the studio?
I get to New York City as much as I can to see art, meet artists, eat great food, and just be in the city.

Day Job?
Massage therapist.

Favorite contemporary artist?
A few current favorites are Cecily Brown, Mark Bradford, Joanne Greenbaum, Amy Sillman, Anselm Kiefer, Angela Dufresne, and Denyse Thomasos.  There are many great artists working now.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Any deKooning.

Who are your favorite writers?
Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Toni Morrison among many.

Is painting dead?
That we are still asking that question decades after it was first asked gives you the answer.  There are some fantastic painters working today, and in the 21st century, amidst all the technology and digital everything, people still get excited about painting.

Favorite brush?
A flexible flat brush.

Palette knifes?
Knives, hands, and foam core strips for moving and scraping paint.