Local Artist Spotlight: Stacy D’Aguiar- “Un-Real Art”

By: Jed Sanders.

The terms “abstract” and “contemporary” art can make us all feel a little uneasy these days. What instantly comes to mind are artists who haven’t spent the time to learn any technical painting skills and resort to splashing paint on a canvas, which results in more of an accident than something created with intentional purpose.  Or, people arguing over the meaning behind a blank canvas, or the art sales that are primarily motivated on whether it can be made to match the sofa. All of it seems much like the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, where the value is based more on how much one can be fooled into buying into it, whether figuratively or literally. I mean, let’s face it, making a good investment in a genre where even pet horses and turtles have learned to make a good living can prove to be difficult. You might be much better off buying a lottery ticket.

That’s why there’s nothing that makes me happier than finding an artist who proves this wrong and shatters all of the stereotypes. Stacy D’Aguiar is an abstract and contemporary artist. She doesn’t do it because it is “easy”, or because she doesn’t know how to paint. On the contrary, Stacy is quite the skilled painter who also has a serious grasp on surrealism and realism. Her paintings are filled with an intensity of emotions over her love of nature and the human spirit.

So how did you come up with the name “unreal” for your art?
The two qualities that prominently define my artwork are surrealistic and dreamy. To me, the word ‘unreal’ describes the essence of my work as well as what the viewer might associate with the meaning of it. ‘That’s unreal!’ is what people have said sometimes in the past, so the name stuck.

I saw on your website that you are originally from Washington D.C. What made you come out to San Diego?
I visited L.A. when I was in 8th grade, and I just knew from then on that I was meant to live in California. San Diego became my home in 1998 when I followed a friend. San Diego is not just a melting pot, it’s a hybrid of a city in its truest sense. The laid back beach culture dominates the vibe of the coastal areas. Central parts of San Diego preserve the culture of those who settled down here long before us. Neighborhoods like the Gaslamp, Little Italy, and La Jolla have a special appeal to me. It’s the marriage of urban chic and casual and healthy living that I embrace. I’ve watched an upsurge of architecture and visual arts here over the past decade, and I look forward to watching and participating in the continuing growth of the art scene in San Diego.

You have a vast range of different subject matter in your paintings. How do you decide what your next painting is going to be?
I have so many ideas that I couldn’t paint them all in this lifetime. For my surrealistic work, I may see a picture of a person in a certain pose and think of, perhaps, an animal or insect that they could be fused with in a pictorial. For my abstract work, I paint what sells currently in the contemporary art world. I have a few terrific art reps who do a great job showing my work to the right people and giving me art direction according to what they think they can sell. Basically, my contemporary abstracts and landscapes, horses, botanicals, etc., pay my bills.

I noticed that nature is prevalent in a lot of your art? What about it inspires you the most to paint?
I believe everyone and everything in the universe are all connected and made of the same things, so I want to convey nature’s brilliance. I tend to combine human forms, plants and animals in one painting for this reason. A theme that I interpret a lot is the process of transformation and growth, which Mother Nature is doing infinitely. I want the viewer to really feel the magic of life and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

Besides making art, what is your favorite thing to do in San Diego?
My favorite thing to do besides painting is eating! Surfing is my third favorite. I feel deeply connected to the ocean, and living next to it is a requirement. It’s a very cleansing place to be. There’s nothing like the feeling of riding waves. It’s the most joyful form of meditation for me.

What is a typical day like for you?
I’m living my dream! I wake up and work out or surf, walk my dog and brush my teeth. Not necessarily in that order, and that’s the short version. I go to the studio, late morning, and work until, sometimes, late at night. I love to paint at night, because I feel more connected and creative. I make time for friends and have a good balance of keeping my body healthy, creating art, and having fun.

What is your favorite piece of artwork that you have ever made?
It has to be ‘Red’, because it’s the first oil painting I did of a figure and the biggest I had painted so far at that time, which is 24”x36”. He’s just very ‘god-like’ and massive, yet, peaceful. I actually painted him for Sushi’s Red Ball in 2002, and he sold right away. He is one of my most popular paintings.

Is there a line drawn between your life and your artwork? How do you manage to keep a balance of the two?
I tend to work a lot because I’ve graduated to the next level in my career. But, I also really enjoy the balance that I have most of the time between painting and having fun. It’s important to me to be healthy as well, so daily meditation and workouts or yoga are a necessity for me spiritually, emotionally and physically. I’m responsible and have the drive to make a living, so I work more often than play. With all of this, I’m extremely busy all the time basically.

How do you define success with your artwork?
If I cry after stepping back from a painting when it’s finally finished, then that’s success. It’s that feeling of not knowing how I did it, but there it is. To be able to create beauty, spread it outward and share it is the most amazing gift. I feel successful because ‘creating’ makes me happy and that creativity and vision comes from within me; no outside source can fill that, and I feel whole. There’s nothing like selling the work either! Having art reps is very important for me because if it weren’t for them getting my work to qualified buyers, I don’t know how I would sell on a regular basis.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time?
I try to stay in the present moment as much as possible, so I don’t look too far into the future. But, I’ll definitely be creating a lot, and I’d like my name well-known and my work sought after. I want my work to inspire and help people. I’d like to be credited for that. I’ll always be learning and growing. I see myself making a lot of money and sharing a lot of money. My goal is to paint and travel a lot.

Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions and good luck to you!

To see more of Stacy’s artwork and/or to purchase art from her, go ahead and check out unreal-art.com

You can also see her work in person (highly recommended) at the Mission in North Park at 2801 University Ave.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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