"This Moment" Artist Q&A Series One

By Roxanne Phillips

We are pleased to present a new series of artist interviews featuring artists whose works are currently presented in our virtual and online exhibit, "This Moment" on view through September 15, 2020. You can see all of the featured artworks and learn about the artists on our webpage and in our exhibition Facebook album here.

For this week's first post, we are pleased to present interviews with artists Anne Kostecki and gaye gambell-peterson.

Featured in Art Saint Louis' "This Moment" exhibit: Anne Kostecki. “Isolation.” July 2020. Watercolor on Paper, 9”x12” unframed. $250.
Artist's statement: “The moon is our only satellite, and has historically been associated with deep emotions, isolation, loneliness, and ideas surrounding "lunacy." But the moon is also our companion, the light in the darkness of night, and a source of beauty. This quarantine period has been a mix of competing ideas: isolation, routine, but also a slowing down and appreciation of our natural environment.”

About the artist: Anne Kostecki is a graphic designer/fine artist with a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MBA from Loyola University Maryland. She has freelanced for over 10 years, with extensive experience working with design agencies, non-profits, and individual businesses. She also has work for sale through Minted online and locally at Union Studio, and Laumeier Sculpture Park. She has exhibited in St. Louis area galleries including Creative Alliance, Foundry Art Centre, Manchester Arts, and Webster Groves Public Library. Her biggest inspirations include the wonders of nature, imagination, food and travel.

Anne Kostecki. "Blood Red/Blue." 2020. Gouache on Paper. 8”x10“. $300.

Roxanne Phillips: Describe your artistic process/technique.
Anne Kostecki: My process varies with the medium I choose. I usually work in mechanical pencil, ink, colored pencil, watercolor paint, and sometimes acrylic paint or hard pastel. I don’t often have the opportunity to work en plein air, so I usually use my own reference photos, or photos from a free reference photo group on Facebook I’m a part of. I spend a long time sketching any detail, very lightly in mechanical pencil. Then when I paint or use colored pencil, I color from lightest color to darkest. I usually work from largest swathes of color (like the blue of the sky) to the smallest. Then I work down into as much detail as I can handle. I love picking subjects that are colorful, with interesting or challenging compositions.

Artist Anne Kostecki at work in her St. Louis area studio.
RP: What was it that first prompted your career as an artist?
AK: I don’t know, because it was so long ago... I think I was five years old when I first realized I enjoyed art. I kept drawing for my entire childhood, then I was lucky enough to receive art lessons when I was a teenager. I think I practiced more because I received positive feedback, which in turn inspired more work and positive feedback. I think a lot of our life choices revolve around what kind of feedback we receive when we try them, from others or ourselves.

Anne Kostecki. “Open Door." 2020. Watercolor on Watercolor Paper, 9”x11.8“. $350.
RP: What is it about your preferred medium that you enjoy the most?
AK: I primarily work in watercolor when I paint. What I like about watercolor is the luminous quality of the paint on the surface. I like how it can be unpredictable how the paint and water will run or react to certain brushstrokes. As someone who likes being in control, it is a nice release for me to give up control and let the paint react.

Anne Kostecki. "Endless Waves." 2020. Watercolor on Watercolor Paper, 6”x9”. $130.
RP: What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring artist to becoming an artist?
AK: I had wanted to be an artist since I was very young, and was fortunate enough to take art lessons from Jan Groenemann while I was in high school. I built a portfolio and applied to art schools and art institutes. I chose Washington University in St. Louis because I have a lot of academic interests in addition to art, and wanted to pursue those.

I majored in Communication Design and minored in English, and moved with my husband to Baltimore, MD. I worked as a graphic designer at various agencies and internships, then accepted an in-house design position at Loyola University Maryland. I attended the university and received my MBA in 2017, knowing that I wanted to eventually launch a full-time freelance career.

I had been freelancing off and on since I graduated college in 2010, and enjoyed working with small businesses and wedding clients as well as painting a few commissions. In 2018, I was accepted into my first juried art fair, and so I jumped in and created an inventory of art prints, notebooks, and other handmade products. My husband and I were so happy to move back to St. Louis in August 2019, and I've been steadily building my career since. I can't wait until the pandemic is under control, so I can go back to art fairs, shows, and teaching in-person workshops!
Featured in Art Saint Louis' "This Moment" exhibit: Anne Kostecki. “Intensive Care Unit.” May 2020. Watercolor on Paper, 9”x12”. Not for Sale.
Artist's statement: “This piece was created as a tribute to the dedication of the ICU staff at SSM St. Joseph West hospital. An elderly patient reaches out and clasps hands with the head of the nursing staff on a pure white background.”
RP: Do you have a studio routine? Most creative time of day to work? Process of thinking or setting up before you begin making?
AK: I'm a full-time caretaker for my two-year-old daughter (and a son on the way), so my work routine is very regimented. My time is strictly limited to when she's sleeping, or whenever my husband can watch her, so I squeeze in as many hours as I can during that time. I've learned to work whenever I can, but I'd say normally I'm most creative during the middle of the day into the afternoon. I usually have my water, paint, brushes, and paper towel ready to go when she goes down for a nap. I have 3 free-standing LED lamps that I use around my art table, so I can have as much light as possible. Music really helps me get into the right mood for creating.

RP: What kind of music, books, and movies do you listen to while making art?
: I listen to a lot of things when I'm creating: music, podcasts, and movies/TV in the background. I love minimalist and ambient music; with my current favorites being 36, Chihei Hatakeyama, Poemme, Harold Budd, and Brian Eno. I like listening to the podcasts Planet Money, Marketplace, and Freakonomics because of my love of economics. Sometimes I'll put on Netflix or HBO in the background while I'm painting.

Anne Kostecki. "Irises." 2020. Watercolor on Watercolor Paper. 9”x12”. $350.
RP: Describe your studio space – size, location, set up, qualities you require. What would you change?
AK: My studio is a bedroom on the second floor of our house. It has lots of space, but only one smallish window, so I would love having more windows or natural light. We are in the process of planning a brand-new studio in our basement, which will have lots of natural light (from new windows!), art supply storage, white furniture, and a recording area for me to teach classes online. I'm also planning to host art lessons and workshops in my studio too, and thankfully I have plenty of folding tables that I've used for various art fairs.

Anne Kostecki. "Amalfi Coast." 2020. Watercolor on Paper. 9"x12". $100. "Capri." 2020 Watercolor on Paper. 6”x9”. $80. "Tuscany." 2020. Watercolor on Paper. 6”x9”. $75.
RP: What do you do to support your art and how does that impact your art practice?
AK: I try to use all of my available skills to support my art; and that means doing a mix of art, design, marketing, and teaching. I make most of my income at art fairs and festivals, and so COVID-19 has been quite a blow to my revenue this year. I sell a mix of products (stationery, notebooks, art prints, etc.) and original artwork at these events, and I also sell them online on my website. I receive a few painting commissions a year, and I also work on some freelance graphic design projects, which are mostly wedding stationery (which has been impacted by COVID-19). I have taught art lessons and workshops, but all of my courses are on hold until venues can safely open.

Anne Kostecki. "Creation." 2020. Watercolor on Watercolor Paper. 4”x9”. $130.
RP: What is your dream project?
AK: I have two projects I'd love to do: the first one I've started, and that is a series of watercolor paintings of iconic St. Louis landmarks. I've finished my first one of a scene in Forest Park, but to be honest, I haven't had the chance to photograph the other sites I want to do. I think I'll have to wait until after the baby arrives.

And, I've always wanted to do my own Tarot deck. At the very least, I would want to illustrate the Major Arcana. I think the symbolism is fascinating, and I want to see what kind of imagery I would do. I love seeing how other artists interpret the Tarot.

St. Louis artist Anne Kostecki at work in her studio.

Learn more about Anne Kosteckiwww.annekostecki.com and www.facebook.com/AnneKosteckiDesign and  www.instagram.com/annekosteckidesign/

gaye gambell-peterson
Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “This Moment” exhibit: gaye gambell-peterson, St. Charles, MO. “fall.out.” 2020. Collage on Canvas Board, 14”x11” framed. $157.
Artist’s statement: “My recent art is reactive. Angry. Displays the void of unknowing.
Searches for small bits of optimism—in nature, if nowhere else.
#teardownthestatue...#stayhome...#protest... #washyourhands...
All worth consideration yet too much at once.  Too much.  Help.”
About the artist: As a collage artist I put bits of paper together to create something new. As a poet I put words together to create something new—that makes me a happy recycler . I've been juried in / awarded / published enough to keep me doing both. I'm lucky to be doing what I love as I sneak up on my 81st birthday.

gaye gambell-peterson. “essence of her (a triptych).” 2014. Paper Collage on Canvas Board, triptych,  14"x11” each. $707.
Roxanne Phillips: What is it about the Moment theme that speaks to you?

gaye gambell-peterson: ”This Moment" asked me to consider all of the uncomfortable circumstances of These Peculiar Times. Indeed, it is the compilation of Every Thing that creates my stew of strong emotions. I need to make art to deal with my anger, my grief, my being overwhelmed.

gaye gambell-peterson. “Appetite #lilith.” 2014. Paper Collage on Canvas Board, 14"x11”. $253.
RP: What inspired you to become a member of Art Saint Louis?
ggp: In my waning years, I need to "up my game" or at least "hang in" the art world. Art Saint Louis provides me with motivating themes, allows me exposure to other regional art, and gives my art exposure—I need all of that. Want it.

gaye gambell-peterson. “poet.head variation 75.” 2014. Paper Collage on Canvas, 20"x24”. Not for Sale.

RP: What was it that first prompted your career/activity as an artist?
ggp: I was born with a passion for art. As a child I colored outside the lines, paid little attention to the numbers in paint-by-the-numbers, sketched to my heart's content. I self-learned—except for one semester of "art" in high school. With an all-tuition NY State scholarship based on my English/math/science skills, I convinced my parents to let me enroll in an art program (Alfred University). In my junior year I transferred and earned my BS in Design (painting major) for University of Michigan.

gaye gambell-peterson. “side by side 2.1.” 2019. Mixed Media: Collage, Acrylics, 24”x18”. $523.
RP: What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring artist to doing it?

ggp: I taught high school art for a while. I was an active regional artist when my three children were young—but to be honest, I've never earned a living with my art. In fact I spent many years (from my mid-40s to my 60s) not creating. A chance to have a solo show got me creating again. Oh, how good that felt—now I know what I'll be doing until the end.

gaye gambell-peterson. “what webs we weave.” 2010. Paper Collage on Canvas Board, 12"x16"           $253.
RP: Why did you choose the medium in which you concentrate?

ggp: I sometimes feel like a group rather than an individual artist! My project ideas range all over the place—I've had to force myself to stick with a medium—and collage it has been (mostly) for the last 15 years. I taught myself off-loom weaving and other fiber arts when my children were young because it was "clean" and portable. I won the privilege of creating a Corten steel sculpture for Tilles Park in the early '70s. I painted in acrylics. I started writing poetry and combining that with my art. As I aged, my hands got wobbly (autoimmune meds played their part) so I took to gathering bits of paper graphics and letting them come together.

Artist gaye gambell-peterson on her 80th birthday.
RP: What is the best thing about being an artist?

ggp: Making art is an escape to another world.  It's a path on a different plane: I conceive a work; the idea gets tangled as I manipulate my medium; then I find my vision again (or a better one). Time evaporates. Eventually (when the planets align), the completed piece finds acceptance in a juried show. Freed of reality during the process. Awarded by validation.

gaye gambell-peterson. My poetry chapbooks. 2009. Collage Art for Cover & Interior Illustrations. $10/$15 each.
 Learn more about gaye gambell-peterson: www.gayegambellpeterson.com

Roxanne Phillips is an artist and art educator based in St. Louis since 2001. She earned a MFA in Printmaking & Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis and BFA in Painting & Drawing from University of North Texas. Roxanne is an adjunct art instructor at Washington University in St. Louis and has worked with Art Saint Louis since 2017 as Administrative Assistant and Installer. From 2018-2020 she was Master Printer for Pele Prints. Her works have been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout the St. Louis region including at Art Saint Louis, Crossroads Art Studio & Gallery, and St. Louis Artists’ Guild. Her work is currently available at Union Studio in St. Louis. She has served as exhibit Juror for several regional exhibits & art fairs. Roxanne is past Board member of St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art.