Studio Clips: Meet Aaron Holz

Creative Prompt

  1. Pick up a small drawing journal and a nice pen or pencil. The journal can be six by eight inches- nothing large, nothing expensive. It’s ok to spend more on the pen or pencil.
  2. Find 10 minutes each day to draw and write. Don’t cheat this part! Do this every day, 10 minutes minimum.
  3. Don’t share this with anyone.
  4. Don’t try to prove anything.
  5. Don’t edit what your hand and mind want to make.
  6. Draw anything around you: your cat, a plant, a tree, your dinner, your laundry.
  7. If the drawing doesn’t express what you are seeing, try words.
  8. If words don’t express what you are seeing, try drawing.
  9. Keep it up!

Artist Q&A

  1. Describe your normal studio or workplace.
    My studio is 16 feet by 19 feet with southern light that I’ve partially blocked with a small wall. The rest of the windows are covered in white mylar that diffuses the light and keeps long shadows off my work. I suppose I’d prefer northern light because it is even, but I’ve grown to like this light.  I’ve worked in this space for the past 15 years or so. I have two easels and one table-top easel.  I typically work on two to three paintings at a time. I have at least two glass palates to put paint on and I’m pretty good at keeping at least one clean!
  2. Describe your makeshift studio or workplace in a time of social distancing or isolation.
    For 4-5 months I took over a three-season patio in our home that has glass panels and screens.  I used a space heater in March, but it was actually quite comfortable in April, May and June.  I was surprised at how nice it was to be in the house. Occasionally, one of my daughters would come out to the studio and read on the couch while I worked. That was nice.  I moved back into my regular studio in July. I loved being surrounded by a yard I could walk out to and was surprised by how well that porch functioned as a studio.
  3. How has sharing your work with co-creatives or others shifted?
    More and more, the work is seen online.  There have been fewer studio visits if at all during this time.  So, in some ways, there is a larger audience online, but the reduction of a shared experience in life creates a huge void.
  4. What is your favorite non art-oriented activity that inspires you?
    Traveling with family.  We are all-in on long-haul road trips.  Two years ago, I drove from Ogallala to New York City in two days. My family had flown out ahead of me and it was great being on the road like that. When I was 21, I lived in Bozeman Montana and used to take long trips back to Minnesota to see family.  I think a lot about what kind of work I am making on long drives like that.
  5. How has working in a socially distant environment affected your work?
    Prior to COVID, I think every artist already relates to the socially distanced environment.  Most of us spend hours of time alone with a chosen set of materials. COVID forced me to slow down.  I’m less in a rush and far more willing to be in the present.
  6. What is your favorite go-to snack after long hours working on your artistic practice?
    I am guilty of going down to a vending machine and buying Funyuns or Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos.  Sarah bought a huge box with 50 bags of chips when she found this out and thought that would cure my vending machine habit.  But it turned out that having the box in the studio was a terrible idea. I ended up eating my first bag of chips by 10:30 and my third bag in the car heading home!  So that is over. Now I bring a few nuts, trail mix or crackers.
  7. What are one/two of your favorite books that resonate with you and/or your practice?
    I have quite a few books that I choose for different reasons, so I’m not sure how to answer that.  I did a whole body of work on Emily Dickenson’s letter poems.  They opened door for me into the American landscape and abstraction. And they were simply small poems constructed on envelopes and parts of envelopes!  I also find myself going back to Donald Judd “Complete Writings 1959-1975” out of a fascination for seeing the changes in taste through time and for clear writing about art.
  8. Who are one/two of your favorite artists that inspire you?
    Philip Guston for trust and the fearlessness. Ingres for the weird perfection of every single painting.