Nancy Gruskin

Interview by Jimon

  1. Where do you call home?  I live in Concord, Massachusetts, I’ve lived elsewhere, but I’ll probably always call New England home.
  1. Did you have any training or is it inherent? I’ve painted and drawn since I was little.  I was a studio art minor in college.  Then my career path took a few twists and turns.
  1. Do you remember the first piece of art that captured your imagination?  Yes, it was one of Claes Oldenburg’s oversized vinyl sculptures.  I can’t remember where I saw it, but I was young and I remember feeling like I just had to reach out and touch it.  I also remember the museum guard rushing over to reprimand me. 
  1. What made you decide to become a professional artist? I was doing other things professionally, with art always on the back burner, and I just reached this point where I knew that all I really wanted to do was paint.
  1. How would you classify your art?  Somewhere between realism and abstraction also autobiographical. 
  1. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about your art or being an artist?  My friend Emily Passman likes to say of painting, “get in, and get out.”  That’s really the key to keeping things fresh.
  1. Do you have a routine you follow while working on a piece? Typically, I see something that I think will make an interesting painting (it could be an object or a group of objects or a family member’s pose).  I don’t usually make preliminary studies.  I start working with this general idea in my head and I try to be open to the possibility that things might change.  I heard Joan Brown say in an interview once that if she planned out a painting too much in advance, it was done and over with before she finished the painting, and I think that’s true.
  1. How has your style changed over the years?  My painting has definitely become looser and more improvisational.    
  1. What advice would you give putative collectors?  Life is short; buy art that makes you happy.
  1. Who is your favorite artist and why?  It’s a very long list, but most of the artists on it are painters of everyday life.
  1. Do you have a place/person/thing that you visit for inspiration?  My family and the places they inhabit (and the art history section of the library).
  1. Name three things you can’t live without in your studio?  NPR, Spotify and Diet Coke (oh, and a tube wringer).  That’s four must-haves.
  1. If you could have dinner with 3 artists living/dead who would be at your table?  I’m a textbook introvert, so dinner parties aren’t really my thing, but I’d love to talk to Elizabeth Blackadder and Lois Dodd.  If I was just listening in and the living/dead thing wasn’t an issue, it would be fun to hear a conversation between David Hockney, Pablo Picasso and architect Philip Johnson.
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