P.S.: Hello Carol. First of all, I want to thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions about your art. When I saw your work a few days ago it blew me away, so I know our readers would be interested to hear a little about your process.

C.R.: Well, with the collection you saw, Claybords, my process was as follows. I started by drawing with a Pilot drawing pen. I followed the shapes until some intriguing images formed. Then I introduced color, then line again, emphasizing certain areas, erasing others. Of course, there was also a lot of pausing to see what had happened at different points. Honestly, much of my process is intuitive. I'm definitely learning with each and every piece. One painting builds on another so that now I actually have a mental repertoire of shapes and characters to draw upon.

P.S.: So, how do you do it? I mean, your work is so original, so wildly creative, I'm just wondering what led you to that style? If there's some way you can trace any of the tangible steps that brought you to it, I'd love to hear them.

C.R.: Thank you for those comments! Lately I've been trying to keep track of my thought process and my eye and hand processes while I paint. First, I love line, sometimes to the exclusion of anything else. Each painting grows out of a loam filled with figures, fears, distortions. Dark stories in my mind, from childhood on. While I work I am kind of storytelling; the themes are pretty constant: death, disfigurement, female issues, sex; but the images vary. One line, one image, leads to another. Formal issues are also important, especially as the painting begins to take shape. I want the viewer’s eye to roam. And I want to surprise myself as much as I can. When I get to a place where I feel a sense of recognition—an “Oh! That’s what I am saying!’—I stop, at least for awhile. Each painting is made over a period of days or hours, depending. I want the images to suggest something to the viewer but not hit the viewer over the head.

One more thing: You ask what led me to this style. My maturity. For ages I felt I had to paint totally abstractly, oil on canvas—that, Ab-Ex-wise, I had to find the image in a morass of paint and apparent indecision. Not that I don’t still have to find my images most of the time, but I finally acknowledged to myself that, for me, there must be some suggestion of a human figure for the painting to excite me and spur me on. Also, I have benefited from the art world acceptance of cartoonish work and work with lots of drawing. At this stage of my life, I don’t care too much about the rules that were inhaled when I was younger.

Some of your pieces have this wonderful contrast between being finished and unfinished (see 'I'll Be Right Back' in this issue for a perfect example of this style). Can you share your philosophy on why you make work like that?

C.R.: Happy you noticed that quality. I tend to be ambivalent about almost everything—everything, that is, except for New York City, which I love unreservedly. Ambivalence and unfinished are not the same, of course, but I think that my ambivalent nature is reflected in an uncertain, unfinished kind of work. This is not a conscious effect. Well, maybe somewhat conscious, in that I need to have each painting, or most of them, breathe; also, I like the feeling that the painting looks as though I have dropped my brushes a minute ago but will be right back to alter the work. This unfinished/finished quality makes the work seem more alive to me, more active, especially at a time when painting is fighting for its right to be considered a relevant and meaningful art form.

P.S.: A friend of mine and I have been talking a lot about channeling randomness. I try to channel randomness in my own work, but with just a little hint of direction and purpose. In other words, I try to manhandle the randomness into a balanced, cohesive whole. But why am I talking about myself though, I'm supposed to be interviewing you! Quick, before Barry fires me, what are your thoughts on randomness in art?

C.R.: This question resonates with me. I like the term and the concept of “channeling randomness” and the apparent contradiction in “manhandling” something that one should not be able to manhandle or control, i.e., randomness. I know just what you and your friend mean, Peter. I try to channel randomness, or at least the appearance of randomness, in my work—break old habits, discard mannerisms. I do this by using paint more loosely, or less loosely, or without a brush. Sometimes even painting in a different part of the studio – not that my studio is big enough for me to move too many places – seems to create a situation where there is a sense of randomness.

I’m rambling, no? As I mentioned, I want to surprise myself by what comes out. That element of surprise, of something that comes out in a way that was not fully conscious—that’s a great feeling. But a skilled artist can very deliberately make a work that looks as if it just flowed out with great spontaneity. I heard recently that Willem de Kooning spent hours staring at one of his Women paintings while in the process of painting it. He would add a line and then sit down and spend hours deciding where the next line or color would go. Oh well, what’s the difference, if one ends up with a de Kooning?