Artist Interview – Miguel Anthony Verastique
Today I'm interviewing Miguel A. Verastique, a 29-year old artist who lives here in Taylor, Texas. I met Miguel two years ago and have been very impressed with his dedication to his art and the depth of his talents. Self-taught, Miguel is comfortable with multi-media such as acrylics, oils, pastels and watercolors—you name it.
Miguel's art can be found here in Taylor at his studio, Atelier 95 at 311 N. Main Street, 120Art at 120 West Second Street, and his small works can be found at Cherry Tree Creative, at 323 N. Main.
Where did you grow up, and did this influence your artwork in any way?
I grew up here in Taylor, Texas. I didn’t really go out that much as a kid and kept to myself. One of the things I always liked to do was drawing. Even in school, the sides of my notes were often occupied by some scribble or other.
Not to be mean, but back then for someone pre-internet and fixed in a small town, Taylor was a pretty boring place for me; so all my drawings were sci-fi and fantasy. It was mostly the usual stuff--starships, barbarians, aliens, bizarre creatures, etc. It was only later when I attended college that my drawings became more terrestrial. But you can still find some of the odder creatures now and again in the sketchbook.
What is your educational background?
Graduated from Taylor High School in 2003 and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 2006, earning a B.A. in Political Science.
When did you decide to become an artist?
I’ve always liked drawing and creating, but if you mean professionally it was after I first learned about TAG (the Taylor Artist Guild). I had left Ameri-Corps and there were no jobs that were either there or appealed to me. I saw the notice in the paper for a sketch club and set out for something to do on a Wednesday night.
When Judy Blundell was opening Atelier 95, she mentioned that she had spaces for artist studios. So I got off my butt and got two jobs to pay for the rent. I’ve managed to continue working as an artist for the past two years. As I used to put it, I was already broke so I decided to go for it.
What are your goals for your art?
To be a known and sold artist is my first ambition. I spent these past two years making myself work and become better in technical ability and creativity. Now I am working on my first series that I hope to show for submission to other galleries and juried shows. I believe I’m on the cusp of seeing if this gamble will pay dividends.
Sketchbooks, sketchbooks, and then more sketchbooks. I prefer to work from sketchbook to painting. I have an aversion to using photos for reference baring any other option. The photo does the work for you. That’s why I never paint directly from photo to painting so I will make a watercolor or something similar first. That gets my brain around how the painting will work in space, if the colors will behave themselves and the like. Besides, sometimes the patron can like the watercolor so much they just buy that instead of the proper painting. Saves me a canvas at any rate.
What do you do when you aren't working on art? Hobbies, movies, books?
Video games for the most part but those have been trailing off and seem more pointless and a time suck away from painting. Lurking on the net used to be a big activity but now I most use it for news and checking in on the art world and the local scene in Central Texas.
How do you choose your subject matter for your paintings?
It used to be focused on the mythical when I first started painting. The old stories with their heroes and gods fell right into my fantasy groove but I’ve started to move past that. Seems having a minotaur devouring Athenians doesn’t sell too well to the bluebonnet and puppy crowd--Who knew?
Today I focus on natural scenes that include people, animals, or just plants. Not so much to sell, but I believe that I overlooked the complexity that exists in nature. I am just drawn to it now.
My beliefs on the peril that our environment faces today and in the future also drive my works. That’s what ‘New Dinosaurs’ is about. Giving these extinct birds and life-size presence in the gallery and making the viewer be confronted with them. To speak for those things that can’t or can be too easily forgotten.
You seem to move comfortably from "fine art" paintings to more "illustrative" drawings, in very small to very large sizes. Do you see these as being different, or are they both as important to you?
They are both important to me, the big piece I am more aware of working on. Creating the smaller pieces seems more enjoyable although that may be that they can be completed in a single sitting.
But they are different to me in the sense that a small work is something created simply by my own brain. Larger pieces that take time to finish, take on a narrative of their own. The big pieces let you know if you’re going to fuck it up by being an ugly rectangle on the wall that tells you to gesso over and get it right. You can’t bully a 4x4 foot canvas into speed.
How do you feel about your own work, at this time?
With the series I am making now I think I have found my rhythm. I am starting to put away the novelties and distractions and focus on what matters more. There are days that I don’t paint, true, but there are many more that that’s the only thing on my mind.
What are your favorite subjects to paint or draw?
People and animals followed by landscapes. Particularly from life even if that means braving the summer heat. There is so much to be entranced with in our world (and universe) that I could paint for every waking moment and never be bored or disenchanted. Assuming the views changed of course.
What, in your opinion, has been your greatest artistic success?
Taking the plunge to become a full-time artist has been the largest success at large for me. I would have regretted not doing so for my entire life and it took me out of the doldrums that were lingering.
Thank you, Miguel!