Josie Stevenson is a coffee lover and illustrator originally from New Jersey – currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She’s a Parsons New School alumnae whose dreamy watercolors make us swoon!
Here at Art Zealous, we’re excited about Josie’s new series Fractions which uses scraps and pieces from old “failed” paintings to create intuitive arrangements that evoke landscape, still-life, or cosmic events based on self-imposed restraints.
Art Zealous caught up with Josie about the new project and some fun facts.
Art Zealous: Artistic background?
Josie Stevenson: Making art has always been a big part of my identity. I grew up in a creative family and was very lucky to always be encouraged to pursue my interests. In high school, I started to get really serious about having a creative career and studying art or design in college. I took precollege life drawing classes at F.I.T. which cemented the idea that art school was where I needed to be. I ended up going to Parsons and majoring in illustration. The four years I spent there experimenting and learning was so crucial and special.
AZ: Currently reading?
JS: Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz.
AZ: Coffee or tea?
JS: Coffee! I can’t function without it.
AZ: Favorite spot in BK?
JS: The Desert Pavilion at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is my favorite place to spend time alone and the backyard at Noorman’s Kil is my favorite place to spend time with friends.
AZ: First piece of art you’ve ever collected?
JS: The first piece of art I ever collected was a Steve Keene painting of a Dinosaur Jr. album cover. I think I bought it for twenty-five dollars which is totally crazy. It’s such an unfussy piece, I love it.
AZ: If you could meet anyone in the creative field dead or alive who would it be?
JS: David Hockney. He’s a forever favorite.
AZ: Tell us about your series Fractions.
JS: I first started making these collages at a time when I was feeling burnt out from working in a more representational manner. I began cutting up old paintings that I didn’t like and arranging the pieces on printmaking paper. I found (and still find!) the process of working abstractly to be really satisfying.
AZ: How do you use pieces from old paintings to create these unique arrangements?
JS: I always feel overwhelmed by the idea of infinite possibilities and will usually tell myself that I’m going to make a specific amount of collages of a specific size on a specific type of paper before I even get started. Having limitations gives me the freedom to work without over-thinking things.
I have a box of already-cut collage pieces that I pull from. If I’m running low, I’ll look through my flat files for old works that can be repurposed. People often tell me that my collages remind them of landscapes or something of that nature but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what they represent. I like the ambiguity.
AZ: Your watercolors are lovely. Why do you choose not paint the faces of the people featured?
JS: Thank you! When I started working on that series, my primary goal was to paint every picture in this forgotten box of photos belonging to my grandmother in a span of ten months. I think that there were almost three hundred photos.
I set this really unrealistic goal hoping that I could train myself to focus on process and production without getting too hung up on details. Eliminating facial features was a way to save time but also a fun challenge in regards to articulating the moods of the figures in my paintings.
AZ: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
JS: I’m mostly making more collages for now but am trying to ease my way back into painting!
Follow Josie on Instagram.
all images// courtesy of artist