Artwork Archive artist René Romero Schuler often finds herself coming back to a piece of wisdom she received many years ago from author Deepak Chopra: “We are all spiritual beings in rented bodies. This body is a blessing, but is temporary. Only the spirit endures.”
You can see in the way that René paints that she gets to the core of this. Her work is at once deeply personal and spiritual—without giving her figures any defining characteristics. Each body can represent anyone: you, me, René herself … and in that, her work connects us all on a basic level. René strips her figures from the features that we usually use as benchmarks for making snap judgments about each other and leaves them with only their absolute essentials.
While René has gained success and recognition around the nation and world for her work, it hasn’t always come naturally.
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Find out how René overcame her preference for studio solitude, and gained massive gallery representation.
PAINTING FROM SUCH A DEEPLY EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE, HOW DO YOU APPROACH EACH PAINTING IN ORDER TO TRANSLATE THESE COMPLICATED ISSUES OF HUMAN NATURE INTO EACH PIECE?
My approach to every piece that I create is to first start with a color palette that fits my general mood in that initial moment. From that stage, I apply several additional layers of color, movement and texture. Every part of how I create a piece is a very deliberate attempt to transfer my energy and emotion, or the energy of whom or what I am channeling.
The issues of human nature are completely universal. We are all imperfect, flawed, and supremely individual; and I strive to convey every part of human frailty, and innate beauty, in every piece I create.
HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND IN MULTIPLE MEDIUMS INFORMED YOUR CURRENT PRACTICE?
I believe that working in a variety of mediums and practices allows me to satisfy all of my artistic urges. There are absolutely times where I feel “blocked” in my painting practice. Working in India inks, steel wire, bronze, gold leaf—even pencil and paper, frees my mind, and keeps the creativity flowing. This enables me to move easily between all the bodies of work I create.
YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK AS A HEALING PROCESS FOR BOTH YOURSELF AND THE VIEWER, WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH OR CONTRIBUTE WITH YOUR PAINTING?
Yes, I often call it “Therapy on Canvas”. My work gives me a gift through the process of its creation. Working with color and texture, depicting the ethereal essence of figures in raw, vulnerable, exposed states, allows me to channel my stories and experiences.
I find such healing and grounding in this practice—like writing in a journal. I honestly believe that my contribution to this world is to show, through my work, that we are all beautiful. Our scars, experiences, or our basic physicality do not impact who we intrinsically are deep down. I think it is so important to remind people that they are truly beautiful.
Now, René tells us how she built her successful studio practice.
YOU HAVE SAID THAT YOU’RE NOT THE TYPE OF PERSON OUT THERE TO BE SELLING YOUR WORK AND YOUR TIME IS BETTER SPENT IN THE STUDIO. HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE NEED FOR FINDING REPRESENTATION WITH YOUR PERSONAL NEED FOR STUDIO TIME AND SOLITUDE?
Certainly, finding success in this business requires a constant balance of PR and studio practice. I absolutely HAVE to have a strong and reliable studio practice, just for my own personal, emotional well-being. The representation that I currently have has come very organically.
I am very supportive of other artists, I attend gallery openings, I buy art that I can afford, I talk about my art and studio practice at every (tactful) opportunity. It is these things that bring people to my work.
I don’t like getting sucked into spending too much time on my computer. That is something that I feel can really cripple an artistic practice. That said, I have a great respect for the value of utilizing any opportunity for free editorial press, and the importance and power of properly using social media. For these things, I hire help. The expense is typically not too great, but it’s money so well spent. I think that anyone who does not utilize these outlets is truly missing some great opportunities.
This is also where galleries come in. I have never had the kind of personality to try and self-promote or talk finances. I operate from a far too emotional place. If I encounter people who like my work, I am wired to just give it away. Needless to say, this was not serving me financially. I think it is the greatest honor to be creating something that touches people to a point that they want to live with it in their space, and the emotional side of that tends to overwhelm me.
Finding help in the areas that I lack desire or expertise, keeps me in the studio where I belong. - Rene Romero Schuler
YOU ALSO MENTIONED THAT WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT YOU RECEIVED FEEDBACK FROM GALLERIES THAT YOUR WORK WAS “TOO DARK.” IN A MARKET WHERE IT IS EASY TO BEND YOUR STYLES TO FIT THE NEEDS OF THE BUYER, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ARTISTS FINDING THEIR OWN VOICE?
That’s easy. Keep working! Don’t let anyone’s opinion of your work stop you from doing what you are so driven to do. The work will evolve. I think taking in criticism along the way will definitely shape the direction of your practice. That is inevitable. But don’t ever try to deliberately force your work to fit the desires of the masses.
The evolution has to be genuine. An artist’s work has to come from the heart or, at least in my opinion, it loses its intention. It has no true soul, and becomes “decoration”, not art.
WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD YOU GIVE TO ARTISTS JUST STARTING TO MAKE THE LEAP INTO LOOKING FOR GALLERY REPRESENTATION?
First and foremost, focus on your practice. Second, make sure you have a strong, cohesive body of work. Third, make your presence known.
Social media is an obvious one, but go to openings, support fellow artists, engage in constructive dialogs, visit artists’ studios, pass out business cards, host open studio events, enter competitions (be wary of these though—look for notable curators, and highly attended venues/events).
Doing as much as you can along these lines is like putting a bug in the ears of curators and gallerists. It will make the conversation of looking for a gallery much more natural, rather than a plea of desperation. Never send a solicitation or images to a gallery unless they are aware it is coming, and they are ok with you sending it. Otherwise, it falls into a category you don’t want it to be in.
Lastly, always communicate in a positive manner. That’s a bit of a loaded statement, but for now, I’ll leave it at that: Stay positive.
ANY OTHER TIPS FOR PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS WORKING WITH GALLERIES?
To this, I would just say to be respectful of the value that your gallery brings to you and your practice. If you are lucky, your gallery does a lot to increase your visibility through PR, shows, art fairs, etc., not to mention dealing with all the aspects of working with the public.
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