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Claire Oswalt | Studio Visit

Austin, TX

January 2016



When did you start calling yourself an artist?

I graduated college thinking I was going to be a writer, but was spending more time painting than writing. Then I visited a friend’s studio in LA. He had enormous canvases hanging from the walls, paint sloshed all over the floor, and was drank cups of coffee back to back during the whole visit. Seeing my hesitation on how to jump in, he said - you just gotta start telling people you’re an artist, and that’s what you’ll become. Despite my intimidation, I think I tried it out the next day.

When do you make your best work?

When I trust myself wholly and do not make any second guesses.


Is art making therapeutic for you?

Completely. It’s a chaos that I need in order to balance my extreme pragmatism - a space to loose control without definitive purpose….. wow, listening to that it’s a wonder I ever make any money. 

What are you most proud of? 

The work that usually receives the least amount of attention from others; the least practiced; the work that takes a little something from me and pushes things forward, like a nod as to where we’re going next. 

Artist whose career you covet? 

It’s a dangerous thing for me to compare my career to another artist’s, or express any sense of desire to be somewhere other than where I am. Artists’ career paths are truly like no other. They demand their own space and their own story. The only thing of which I tend to get envious is artist’s studios, or artist’s time to work. I have two little kids right now, so my time in the studio is extremely precious. I anxiously await the time when I can meander a bit more in the studio, maybe lie down on the studio floor and take a nap.

Did you grow up around other creative people?

My mom is a painter, as well as my grandmother. My grandfather was a brilliant engineer who turned to stained glass later in life.  So when I visited my grandparents, their studio (a two-story red barn) instilled a very romantic vision in my head as to artists’ lives, as well as their spaces.  My curious nature was completely fulfilled in that barn as I got to pocket colored bits of glass and  walk amongst large oils of countryside landscapes.

What are your other hobbies?

Ceramics and Yoga

If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

Hard question. Maybe Calder? He seems like an affable guy who spanned disciplines and tried to live as honestly as possible. But then there’s Georgia O’Keefe. What a lady! I would have liked to have spent a week with her in the desert.

What motivates you?

The fear of not having enough time in this lifetime to create or do all that I want to.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what? 

Both are needed on different days. sometimes it is the soft rush of my son’s sleeping machine while he takes a nap. Sometimes it’s the Pixies, Kinks, or Patsy Cline. And sometimes is something more experimental like Steve Reich’s meditative repetitions.