My second, in a series of interviews with a variety of artists, is with the wonderful artist, R-Atencio. R’s work demonstrates a gentle realistic quality — be it from the natural world or from woman/man-made world.
R-Atencio—painting a tiny 4″x4″ canvas.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
If I were to write a autobiography it’d be titled, “Memoirs of a Reluctant Artist.” As a second generation American, my family had a lot of concerns about becoming an artist. I took the business route. For a while, it was satisfactory and paid the bills. From time to time, I felt as if a soft voice was whispering in my ear. It was something indiscernible. One day, I was in the bookstore and found Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way – a Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity” ( It’s full of exercises to promote creativity.) I was so reluctant that I had to read and do the exercises twice. This helped me to hear the voice of creativity and that’s how I began my journey to be an artist.
What is your first memory of creating art?
Well, I suppose all little children draw and color with whatever they have at hand. I took a few art classes in high school.
How did you first become interested in your current art form?
(See next answer)
What inspires you?
So many things… the feelings that I have when I look at beauty – could be the colors of a bird, a fiery sunset, a bin of autumn squashes or the play of shadows. I strive to re-create that feeling and when I see other artists’ work that has captured it, I’m inspired to try.
Do you think of yourself as having a particular “style”? If so… what would it be?
A few people have told me that I do, but I feel that I haven’t settled on a particular style in that you could look at the work and say, “Oh, that’s an Atencio.” I like experimenting. However, I do prefer realism in my work – so far.
How has that style evolved over time?
It seems that evolution occurs in artists because we are organic beings changed by seasons, experiences and emotions. So, yes, my style is evolving. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I’d like express myself more in sculpture.
Have you had formal training?
Besides receiving my degree in Fine Art, I’ve taken many classes and workshops in different areas of art.
What is your favorite medium?
It’s more like “favorites.” I’m fairly experimental and love to try different media. Some of my tried and true choices are: pastel, oil, acrylic and clay – which I often use in combination. For example, under painting with acrylic for an oil painting. Right now, I’m trying my hand at paper clay. When it dries, I’ll paint with acrylics.
Do you have a specific subject or genre you prefer to capture in your work?
It seems that I’m drawn to nature and travel. Of course, nature is a big category, so specifically birds, light/shadows and produce.
What do you find is the most enjoyable aspect of creating art?
For me, there isn’t one part alone that is most enjoyable. There are two parts that I’d highlight.
It seems to me that art is a lot about problem solving. I ask myself lots of questions about format, medium, substrate, and size. I enjoy that formational time in that it is often the most collaborative. I have artist-friends and folks at the local hardware store. It is so enlightening and helpful to put my ideas and questions to them.
There are times when I think, “It’s not working” and “What do I need to do to get there?’ So, when I figure out what needs to change and it actually works, it’s a thrill! (That includes “happy accidents.”)
Do you make your living with your art?
Not yet. I finished my degree program three years ago – at the heart of the recession. Given the financial situation for so many, who cannot afford to buy art or even fine art prints of art they enjoy, I have one art series that is now available as cards, bookmarks, coasters, mugs, and glass trays.
Of all of your works, which is your favorite?
Usually, the one I just finished.
Who is your favorite artist?
There isn’t really one artist who I admire more than any others. I write an art blog concerning artists, art movements, colors, techniques – all sorts of subjects that I think the public might enjoy. In my research, I’ve found so many interesting stories that I draw inspiration from many.
Where can we find your work online? Are you connected to an online art community?
I maintain a gallery website at: http://www.r-atencio.com
The art-related items are at: http://www.r-atencio-annex.com
Art blog is: r-atencio.blogspot.com
Some random questions here…
What is your favorite color?
In terms of art, I don’t have one.
What is your favorite thing to have for breakfast?
Who would play you in a movie about yourself?
Hard to say – I don’t think of my life or myself in those terms. I’m too busy living it.
What super power would you like to have? Why?
SuperPower that allows me to be in different places at the same time – then I could make art in my studio while simultaneously running errands and helping causes I believe in.
What do you do to relax?
Walk, read, play and enjoy time with friends.