Meet Rachel Fishman

by Amber Shemesh

When Rachel Fishman paints a portrait, it’s important for her to document the subject’s existence at a particular moment in time - to focus on them and to listen to them. Through her work, she explores suggested narratives by insisting that a narrative exists and inviting the viewer to imagine. She seeks to communicate the essence of an individual’s character in a way that conveys a strong sense of emotion.

 Boy, 2016 | Oil paint on canvas, 20x16”

Boy, 2016 | Oil paint on canvas, 20x16”

 Sleeping Briana, 2016 | Oil pastel on paper, 8x11”

Sleeping Briana, 2016 | Oil pastel on paper, 8x11”

How long have you been making art?

For as long as I can remember! When I was a little girl, even in preschool, I’d sit in front of the TV with a big stack of printer paper and various utensils - crayons, markers, pencils, etc…

 

What is your art style?

I’m not sure I have a specific style; I tend to jump around a lot in terms of medium and subject. Portraiture, however, has been a pretty consistent theme in my work the past couple of years.

 Self Portrait, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24”

Self Portrait, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24”

What influences your art?

My personal experiences is what most influences my art. I’m inspired as well by the character present in the physicality of one’s face, and how different people can look at the same person and see something unique. When we look at someone’s face, we subconsciously alter the way we see it based on our opinion, assumptions and relationship with that individual, and I find that fascinating.

 

Do you have an artistic “ritual” or tradition?

I don’t have a particular “ritual” so to speak. Something I do though, is I like to keep all of my art supplies out and ready to go. I never want the hassle of setting up or putting everything away to prevent me from working on a piece. On stressful days that I have a lot of reading or computer work I have to do, I’ll often go back and forth between painting and fulfilling the items on my to-do list. Also, I always make sure to have a notebook and utensils in my backpack.

 

Do you think about anything when you’re making art?

I think about my life and the people in it.

 Am I?, 2018 | Marker on paper, 6x8”

Am I?, 2018 | Marker on paper, 6x8”

how Do you prepare before creating art?

Sometimes I just “scribble” because there’s something I need to get out of my system. Other times — and I think this is really important — I need to have a well-thought out vision before I work on a piece. The pieces I first think through tend to be the ones I’m most proud of. All and all, though, sometimes I don’t have a particular vision. In these times, I know I just need to continue creating. To arrive at the destination of a new, thoughtful idea is not automatic, and I need to go through a process. That’s kind of how I get past the “artist block” when it comes: I accept the fact that to get back into the swing of things, I may have to witlessly draw or paint until I feel inspired again. I accept the possibility that I may or may not be proud of the pieces that come out of this process. And usually,  I end up being very proud of the pieces that are uncovered after reaching the destination in my exploration of an idea.

 

Do you plan on pursuing art in the future?

Yes, I plan on pursuing art in the future. Whatever I end up doing, I will always be doing art as well, even if I’m not primarily a professional artist.

 Frank Ocean, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24"

Frank Ocean, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24"

Where do you prefer to work?

In my apartment, by myself.

 

What motivates you to keep making art?

I need to make art. I feel like I don’t function properly if I’m not making art. It’s not a matter of motivation, but rather of necessity. That being said, however, I do have bouts of unreasonable lack of confidence, and those are the times I look for outside motivation. However, I think that this lack of motivation is caused by my overly-critical self. So, when I feel myself losing motivation, I see it as a cue to dial back the self-criticism. Still, I find it’s important to be self-critical — its how I make “good” work. Likewise, its important to be confident — that’s how I make work at all! A healthy balance between critical and confident is something I’m currently working towards.

 

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start making art?

Start already! Make as much as you can. You’ll only get better with time.

 Untitled, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24”

Untitled, 2017 | Acrylic paint on paper, 18x24”

 Hailing a cab, 2017 | Glitter pen on paper, 4x5.25”

Hailing a cab, 2017 | Glitter pen on paper, 4x5.25”

Edited by Sydney Hamilton

Neah Gray