We connected with Margaret Tsirantonakis, a painter who lives and works in Stamford, CT. Margaret uses layers of color, gestural brushstrokes, and calligraphic lines to create intense colors and texture. Her work has been in various group exhibitions and private collections in the US, Europe and Japan.
What is the first memory you have of being introduced to art? Why has it become such an important part of your life?
The first memory of being introduced to art that impacted me was seeing Cezanne’s paintings for the first time. I was in high school and it was at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. While I was taken to museums as a young child I don’t remember those visits. But this experience of looking closely at Cezanne’s paintings made me want to continue to pursue my dream of being an artist. Art has become such an important part of my life because I want to express my view, experience, and emotional response to the world around me in a visual form. It is a form of communication. I love seeing art and love the challenge of using my visual vocabulary to make a painting that has not been done before.
What challenges have you found pursuing a creative career? How did you overcome them?
The best advice I can give to artists is just keep working on your art and develop it. Pursuing a creative career especially in the fine arts can be very challenging. How do you make a living and make your art? Each artist has to figure this out. I’ve made sacrifices but I’ve also been lucky. The challenge continues to get my work out into the world through a variety of ways. However, as I have been seriously pursuing making my art for many years and sharing it with others, new opportunities for my art career have been coming to me. I’m in it for the long run.
Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your art?
I’m inspired by the art that I have seen from the past to the present. Artists such as Matisse, Bonnard, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner and contemporary artists: Cicely Brown, Shara Hughes, Jack Whitten among others have influenced me. I’m inspired by color relationships. Color plays an important part in my work. My birthplace, Chania, Crete has influenced my work in many ways – through it’s myths, history, light. Although I left when I was a year old I have returned for frequent visits. I’m inspired by nature; light, color, shapes, patterns during different times of day and each season. In my paintings from the past two years I’ve been getting ideas from looking closely at my garden, and doing watercolors in the garden. In the studio I work both from life and memory with watercolor, drawings and, photos for reference. My painting is also influenced by the physicality of the paint medium (oil, watercolor & gouache) on the surface (canvas, paper).
How has your work evolved over time?
My color has gotten more complex and nuanced. I’m pushing the layering. I want to have more variety of brushstrokes and mark making. I’m more aware of the weight of the paint application, thin to thick. My subject matter has always come from something that I have experienced but now it comes more from my daily environment. I stay longer with a painting or go back to it to get the visual fullness that I want. I trust my instincts more and my ability to work with my materials. I take more chances.
Do you have any hopes for future projects or collaborations? What’s next?
In June I participated in the “Art in the time of Global Crises: Interconnection and Companionship” international outreach project through art. This project featured a curated virtual gallery of 50 images presented by ARAS and the Art and Psyche Working Group. It can be viewed at aras.org. A solo exhibition in Connecticut planned for this summer has been postponed due to COVID-19 to next year. I’ll be participating in a number of virtual and physical group exhibitions this summer through the winter.
FRONTRUNNER online forum: @anthos