Brought to you by popular demand, CGN has launched a weekly interview series similar to 'An Interview With a Dealer' but with a focus on meeting and learning about one new artist each week. This week we feature René Romero Schuler.
Previous/other occupations: Sold my first painting while in high school, and continued as an artist ever since. Never had another occupation.
Spot in the city? Roof deck at Soho House
Art supply store? Blick
Music or Podcasts? Music
Sweater or Hoodie? Hoodie
Coffee or tea? A little cortado each morning
Share with us a little bit about your artistic background and training.
I dropped out of high school because I was having a hard time paying my rent on my part-time income from Flipside Records. I got my GED, then started a business pretty immediately, doing commissioned artwork for local businesses. This blossomed into a very busy endeavor, where I worked on everything from faux finishes, trompe l’oeil, murals, gilding, sculpture, you name it, and this became the greatest education anyone could ever ask for!
As to the value of a degree? I can only say that this is entirely dependent on the individual. Not having an education was, for many years, my greatest failure and the source of shame. Now, however, I can see that an academic education was never going to be an area of strength for me- regardless of the circumstances. I am a doer. I have to get my hands dirty. I have to work through things in my own way, and in my own time. And I have done just that. This is something I have become quite proud of. With age and experience comes the wisdom to see the realities of where our own personal strengths lie.
What art has been particularly meaningful in your life?
Truly, it’s abstract figurative art that has always had the greatest impact on me, because of how it allows me to “put myself into the piece”. The abstraction allows the “story” of the piece to become my own. In particular, I’ve always been drawn to the artists of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, such as Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Nathan Oliveira, and David Park.
Do you remember the first work of art that made a lasting impression on you?
Son of Man by René Magritte has always been a favorite of mine. I think that the life story of René Magritte is one that really impacted me at some poignant time of my life, and it stuck with me. This particular piece just has so much depth of meaning to me...something I connected to so deeply.
Describe your studio!
I now have two studios. My Lake Forest studio is my peaceful haven in the woods. I work on any pieces under 40” there, as well as works on paper. My Lake Bluff studio is where my assistant Megan works everyday to manage the business side of things, and it’s a much larger space where I can work on my large-scale pieces.
What can I not work without? First thought: Inspiration. But if you’re referring to what object, I would probably say a healthy supply of paints and lots of palette knives.
How do you know when a piece of yours is finished?
Each piece, for me, is the telling of a story. The paint is just a vehicle for my working through the expression of it. Once I feel that I’ve adequately worked through the emotions, I can stand back from the piece and just know all is as it should be, and certainly done. That said, because my work is so viscerally tied to my stories, I will tell you- some of them do not process as easily, and the pieces will transform several times over as I continue to try and resolve things. Those are particularly challenging, but often result in something with great texture and depth.
What do you do when you feel creatively blocked?
First answer- meditate. This is something that has become a daily practice for me. But I’ve also developed several different bodies of work from times of feeling blocked. I think it’s vitally important to keep my artistic process fluid, but there are days when I look at the canvas, or the paints, and nothing comes to me. Just nothing. Rather than wallow in the pain of that experience, I delve into sculpture, or India ink drawings, or even writing. This helps me so much.
You have three minutes to take anything you want from an art supply store, what do you grab?
I would fill my cart with as much of the finest oil paints I could grab in three minutes time. No question.
Do you have a role model or mentor?
My grandmother is turning 100 on September 5th, and in all my life of knowing her, and despite any of life’s pains and hardships, I have never heard her complain. I asked her about that once, and she said, “Why would I complain? It wouldn’t do any good.” She also taught me that moderation is key, which I apply to so many things in my life. I absolutely attribute my excellent health to that one. She is my inspiration. Never an ounce of negativity...just pure amazing.
What should we expect to see from you next?
My work is a constant conveyance of my personal evolution. It’s funny- every time I feel like I am settled, calm and ok with things, that proverbial rug inevitably gets pulled out and teaches me all new things about myself. This is always reflected in how I work. I am seeing some radical shifts in my technique lately, and incorporating other methods of creating depth and texture. I am excited as I watch this emerge and take hold.