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Do Your Thing: Maddie Stratton

The New Orleans native shares with us about her journey into painting.

Photo: Michael Tucker

The New Orleans native shares with us about her journey into painting.

So you were born in New Orleans, right? What’s your story, and where else has it taken you?

Yes! I was born here. My parents still live in the same house where I grew up in the Carrollton /Riverbend area. I went to high school at NOCCA half-day, and then on to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where I got my BFA. I moved back here in 2014. I've had studios mostly in the Bywater (Aquarium Gallery and on Port Street) but just moved uptown and share a space with my mom on Oak Street.

What do you feel is uniquely inspiring about New Orleans?

It's hard to say; It's always been home. This city has a little bit of everything and that’s why I think people really love it; something for everyone. I moved back here because I like the pace and I felt like it was easier for me to be myself as an artist in this environment.

“This city has a little bit of everything and that’s why I think people really love it; something for everyone.”

When did you start painting/making art?

    My mom is an artist and my dad dabbles. I can’t remember a point in my life when I wasn't making art. It was never a question that I would do anything else.

    In college I was heavy into digital mediums; my senior thesis was a video accompanied by Photoshop still lives. When I moved back to my parents house in 2014, I was broke and a little discouraged; the art scene in New York was intimidating and more competitive than I liked.

    I didn't 'get' painting really until I moved back home. I didn’t have the means or the will to make more digital work; I wanted a tactile medium. Luckily I had paint and brushes leftover from high school and started playing around. I was having fun. My mom carved out a little space in her studio for me and I began to sort of reteach myself how to paint.

    “I didn't 'get' painting really until I moved back home. I didn’t have the means or the will to make more digital work; I wanted a tactile medium.”

    What do you hope to accomplish/inspire with your work?

      I want my work to be accessible. I love that anyone can enjoy (or dislike) a painting, and anyone can relate to a painting of a person. While many of my portraits have underlying stories or meanings,it's purely visual. I love painting the human face / figure and I mostly paint them for fun.

      How has your process evolved? What has your work taught you?

      I think painting has taught me to work with what I can’t control. I end up having a lot of happy accidents. Whenever I paint over old pieces that I don’t like very much, I’ll often end up with crazy under-paintings visible on the surface, I love when little things like this happen and I can’t seem to get the same effect on purpose.

      What’s on the horizon?

      This summer’s been pretty crazy because I’ve been traveling a lot so most of my studio time has been spent on portraits for the 300 for 300 project which ends pretty soon. I am settling in to my new studio. When things calm down a bit, I want to start a new series of bigger paintings with a focus on family resemblances (mine and others). I also want to make a few more coloring books.

      The Painters Painting Painters group I am a part of is having an exhibition of portraits and figurative painting in the fall at Delgado (open October 1-25 with a reception Thursday October 4, from 5-7 pm). I will be in a group show at the Lighthouse Gallery with Femaissance called Proserpina (opening October 6). I also just found out that I will be having a solo show at Smith & Lens Gallery in Bay St. Louis, MS opening on February 22!

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