MOLLY LARSON COOK / SELECTED ARTWORK / BIOGRAPHY / ARTIST STATEMENT / INTERVIEW / PAST EXHIBITIONS
Molly Larson Cook Interview
La Playa Gallery: Hi! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell us your name, where you live and a little bit about your past?
Molly Larson Cook: I live in Old Town/San Diego. I’m originally a native of the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle, eastern Oregon). Before becoming a full-time artist, I worked as a writer, university instructor, floral designer, actress, consultant and at many other jobs. I’ve lived all over the United States and made a number of cross-country road trips. I attribute my wanderlust to my Irish gypsy grandfather.
LPG: Can you give us a brief overview of the work you create?
MLC: My work in abstract expressionism is centered in color because for me color is an animal that wags its own tail. In addition to “all color, all the time,” I want to create work that allows viewers what writer Grace Paley called “an open destiny.” I don’t want to tell the story of a painting. It’s important to me to invite views into the conversation and give them room to find a story or narrative themselves.
LPG: How and when did you get started?
MLC: I’ve loved color since I was a child and often thank my grandmother who saw this and bought me a big, wonderful paint set when I was about nine or ten. She also had beautiful and colorful flower gardens that I loved. I wandered into an art history class as a college freshman and that was the real beginning. Later I studied at Maine College of Art and other art schools where I learned the foundations and did a lot of drawing and sculpting. Over the years I did incidental graphic design work as part of my own business, but life took me other directions and I didn’t get back to my art until about six years ago when I took a class in illustrating children’s books. Things went from there.
LPG: Wow! That sounds interesting. What motivates you to create new work?
MLC: My love of color and the joy of experimenting all the time – trying new techniques, materials, color combinations. If I’m away from the work too many days, I start yearning for it and even get a little off my game, so I keep new work going almost all the time.
LPG: Is there a specific series you are currently creating and what is the inspiration behind it?
MLC: “The Colors of Jazz” has occupied me for the last couple of years, but I’ve recently started working on a new series inspired by things I overhear – bits of conversations that really make no sense out of context but are fun and puzzling. The first two paintings are “Molly, please,” and “I did not punch that doggie.” For me, these titles are a kind of verbal abstract expressionism but then words and painting are always connected in my world!
LPG: That is a very creative take on overheard conversations that most people would ignore. What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
MLC: I’d have to name three indispensable items – my small palette knife, my 24” paint shield which I use as a scraper to spread paint in interesting patterns and my water spray bottle. I don’t leave home without it.
LPG: Do you have a routine you follow for creating or only work when inspiration hits?
MLC: My routine is to get up in the morning and paint. I’m with artist Chuck Close who talked about not waiting for inspiration, but just doing the work. Acrylics are fast drying, so while I watch the paint dry, so to speak, I’m listening to music, maybe writing, maybe out for a walk. I usually have a cup of tea close at hand.
LPG: Fast drying acrylics really do make things easier at times. Do you collect anything and does it influence your work?
MLC: I’ve always loved the shape, colors and texture of shells, not to mention their almost mysterious appearance on the beaches. I once had a big collection of shells but the collection is smaller after all my moves. The shells don’t directly influence my work, but they remind me of my love for the sea and keep me grounded so in that way they do influence my work. I also love collecting brightly colored items – all kinds of them like big, bright Mexican paper flowers and colorful pottery. Anything bright definitely influences my work.
LPG: Colors are truly fascinating. What artist or artists have influenced you the most?
MLC: First and foremost, Raoul Dufy. Dufy was one of the Fauves, “the wild ones,” back in the late 19th/early 20th century. I discovered his work in that first college art history class and the first piece of art I bought was a Dufy poster. I still have it and it’s the first thing on the wall when I move to a new place. Other influences are Mark Rothko and his color field work, Georgia O’Keeffe, and abstract expressionist Clyfford Still. All of them were about color. More recently, I’ve been influenced by a Dutch abstract expressionist/jazz musician, Jan Van Oort.
LPG: Support for each other is so important. Locally, what artist excites you the most?
MLC: I’ve been loosely associated with Patric Stillman and his Studio Door (formerly in North Park). Patric and his work always excite me as does the work of three studio artists associated with him – Crisinda Lyons (glass), Cassandra Schramm (oil portraits and murals), and Chris Smith (abstract acrylics).
LPG: Well, thank you for letting us into your creative world. It's been a pleasure and we are really looking forward to featuring your work at La Playa Gallery!
MLC: Thank you so much for having me. La Playa was one of the first galleries I visited when I moved to San Diego three years ago, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a “La Playa artist” now.