This edition of Artist HQ spotlights Mexican artist Patricia Guzmán, a painter whose most extensive body of work, “Roots,” depicts Native men, women and children from her country.
“By chance two separate glances meet … and I am you and what I see is me…” For Patricia Guzmán, every portrait is a chance to provoke the empathy, awareness and connection so lyricized in Pink Floyd’s song Echoes. Working on large-scale paintings in acrylic, watercolor and oil, Guzmán paints on behalf of her people and her gender.
“My intention is to give voice to the human condition,” Guzmán says. “My vocabulary is the indigenous roots; my passion is social commentary and different realities. I speak of our environment from my perspective as Mexican, as woman; deepening in the feelings and emotions shared by all.”
What are the inspirations behind your works?
Color and lack of color … I love the way light dances across a face or figure. I like to paint in big (larger than life) or medium formats so a face can be seen in a distinct perspective, different from our everyday point of view.
I’d like people to stop and look at a native person’s face in a completely different way. Seeing it larger than life and filled with so much information: the wrinkles and the changes in tones and colors but most importantly, the expression, the feelings.
You mentioned on your website’s bio that your intention is to give a voice to the human condition. Can you share a little bit more about this and what inspired this goal?
I want the work to show that we are not alone and that we can mirror ourselves in the image of someone else that we may never get to know in person, but that we can understand and empathy with. We can be that other person and feel we are not alone, thus allowing ourselves to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
I feel passionate about indigenous people, how they’ve managed to survive, how strong they are. They are symbol of resistance. Their wisdom and connection to a deeper understanding of nature, I find fascinating.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Even though I grew up surrounded by paint materials and never really stopped drawing, I fully committed to painting seven years ago. I had been painting horse portraits since I was 22. Painting was a tool that allowed me to survive.
However, I sensed there had to be much more, that it could go deeper than that. I spent a month in New York and that allowed me to see painting in a different light, filled with meaning and signification.
I started to understand how painting has the power to transcend languages and culture, that it can speak to persons living in different continents and time. From that moment on, I embraced painting with all my commitment.
Do you have any bad art habits that you just can’t seem to break?
Deadlines. I think I function better when I am between the sword and the wall. Every time I say to myself I will start painting ahead of time, every time it seems to just works out better when time is not on my side.
How do you get yourself ready to start making art? Any weird pre- or post-rituals? Anything you have to have near you or listen to?
I don’t really have any rituals, though I treat painting as something sacred. I can paint in silence but I listen to music and audiobooks as well.
What’s the weirdest art material you have ever used? And how did it turn out?
I have been experimenting with creating textures with watercolor. There are different mediums for this on the market but I have been using metal sponges, rollers, and sanding a lot.
If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
I have been surrounding myself with black, wearing it mainly. I have used it quite a lot as backgrounds for portrait paintings as well, though those blacks are a combination of either ultramarine blue plus burnt sienna or Payne’ gray plus sepia.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
Painting as I understand it is a path to the inner self, a way of getting to know oneself better. A way of listening to finding your own true beliefs and thoughts — and not the ones we’ve been programmed to listen to from outside world.
Therefore, the hardest and most rewarding part is to believe in the inner voice and to have the courage to follow it through. I think it is a lifelong challenge that makes life worth living in the most passionate, fullest way.
If you could do anything in the world for a living — not art-related — what would you do?
I would work at the forest or sea taking care of rescued wildlife. To help them recover and find a home for them or reintroduce them to their native environment.
Any art cliché(s), trends, or situations that make your blood boil?
The art market, probably. It makes everything so business-like, and sees art as an investment and people put money behind charlatans for economic gains. What makes my blood boil is the depredatory ways of humans who capitalize on the most sacred things, such as nature and art.
If you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring artist, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. Believe in your inner voice. Creating is such a courageous activity, and we have to hold on to that idea as if our own life depended on it. It’s the only way for a piece of art to become a reality.
Patricia Guzmán is an award-winning artist with works in collections throughout the world, from Mexico and the United States to Canada, Belgium, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
She has won numerous prizes and accolades including 1st Place in the Portrait/Figure category of Artists Magazine‘s 2016 Annual Art Competition. She won with her painting, Justice, a painting inspired by the acts of violence taking place against women in Mexico.
“It’s a reflection of my country’s social situation: the human rights violations, forced disappearances, and killings of women. The torture and the unidentified graves that appear every day. The impunity and the injustice … My intention was to spotlight all this. To say, this is happening.”
Learn more about Patricia and her art by visiting her website.
The Power of Drawing
Rendering and drawing with the brush is so clearly a part of Patricia Guzmán’s process that we want you to be able to do the same. The Figure Drawing Essentials: Master Class video download is an entire figure drawing tutorial from start to finish. You’ll refine your ability with drawing the human figure and face with techniques that are accurate, accessible and trustworthy because they come from the best art educators around.