This is a continuation of an interview with Randy Lagana. Please take the time to go back and read Part 1 and Part 2.
Your work that shows just a portion of the body - how do you decide (and why) what "parts" to work with?
I have a series of monochromatic paintings on my website that are composed to show only body parts or conceal the face. These paintings are portraits of elements that the human body can possess and express. I want the viewer to recognize these elements in him or herself. A face would always make it somebody else. I want the viewer to at least say, “that body looks a bit like mine and it’s beautiful, powerful” or something positive.
When I focus on parts, I’m working with the shapes that are interesting on their own and when placed within a frame create interesting negative space. Secondly, I do this with the intent to create an image that has a bit of abstractness. Abstract art “does not depict objects in the natural world, but instead uses shapes and colours in a non-representational or non-objective way.” When I say “a bit of abstractness,” I think I’m being very accurate, as I don’t move very far away from a representational depiction. Maybe one day I will create true abstract piece of art.
Sometimes, as with “Lean & Lovely” (left) and “Bound,” (right)
my intent is to be “in your face,” cause some discomfort. I enjoy creating an image that you cannot escape from. The model for “Lean & Lovely” asked me why I framed the shot as I did. This shot represents to me her absolute truth and courage. She has removed her clothes and even her pubic hair, leaving nothing to hide behind because there is no need to hide. This is a totally clear and unobstructed view of the source of everything.
What are your thoughts, as an artist, on anything you feel like talking about now?
The first painting I did, kindergarten finger paintings notwithstanding, was in 7th grade art class and that’s when I found something special in the world. I was hooked the moment I put paint to canvas and since then I have been captivated by art, especially painting. Even when I’m not actually painting, I’m looking at everything as if I were painting it, him, or her. People and their outward appearances, their emotional state, and their behavior fascinate me. I have a degree in psychology and have worked as a police officer, a drug counselor, and a parole officer. I am totally intrigued by people.
I begin to paint long before I squeeze paint from the tube. What I paint is a decision based on varying factors. I may start with a thought or a question. Sometimes it’s simply that I’m entranced by the color and texture of say a mango and so I paint mangoes. Other times, I’m motivated to paint by a provocative question such as, “are we not all beautiful?”
People quite often ask, “what is the meaning” of a painting. Whatever a painting may mean to me, is what it means to me. When people ask this question, I usually say, “tell me what it means to you first!” I believe that the viewer’s interpretation is no less valid than mine. Some people have “seen” something in a painting of mine that I never saw nor intended, and I really like that. However, most of the time, there is no great philosophy buried in my paintings. Sometimes the painting is just about the beauty of a mango.
Do you have a question for me?
Robin, I have two questions for you. 1) What do you do to overcome writer’s block? 2) How do you know when you are done with a piece?
Randy, I'm often afflicted by writer's block. It seems to come on especially if I'm wanting to write. I'll sit down at my computer or with a notebook and ... nothing. What I usually do is just anything else. Read, take a walk, do domestic stuff like laundry or dishes, or go pull weeds. Though sometimes I do just sit and struggle and make myself miserable. I'd like to say that I'll pull out some writing exercise and do that, but I rarely do those when I'm blocked. What's ironic is that if I'm busy with stuff other than writing, I'll get all sorts of ideas. So I've learned to keep a tiny notebook with me at all times. It lives in my purse and comes with me on walks.
When it "feels" done. I know, very scientific and exact. With poetry, pieces can be fiddled with for years and not be done or be completed and submitted within a day or so (those are very rare). And being published doesn't guarantee they won't be revised. It's a little different with stories. They're not done until I'm ready to submit them. And usually it just comes down to a deadline. At some point I have to quit revising and send it off. That's hard to do. And then I try not to look at it. Because if I do I will find things I'd change and drive myself nuts.
Well, Randy, I hope you enjoyed doing this interview as much as I have. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions thoughtfully and in such detail. I'm hoping if anyone has any further questions we could continue this in the comments section.
I'm fascinated by the creative process, be it word-based, music, or visual. And I do think I'll do more of these interviews. I've already got some ideas.