Artist Interviews

Interview with Re McBride

We caught up with expressionistic artist Re McBride and talked about her creative approach, inspirations, and how working under lockdown allowed her to discover new places, processes and patterns for her practice.

By Rise Art | 07 Jun 2021

Re McBride captures ethereal scenes, delicate compositions and atmospheric vistas in her textured expressionistic paintings. Based in Queens, New York, Re takes inspiration from every corner of her life, whether that be train rides and trips to the beach, or window displays. 


Ocean City Winter by Re McBride


How would you describe the art you create?

I would describe my work as emotive, direct, and tender. I often paint images of an ephemeral moment in nature and when landscape meets human intervention. I try to portray everyday moments with a specificity of time and mood.


What inspires your art? Do you paint from real life, from photographs, or from your imagination?

Taking walks inspires my art. Sometimes that's in the woods or on the beach, but more often from my apartment to my studio and around New York. I take photos when I see something that strikes me and I use the photo as a reference. That image helps me to parse out the shapes and space of the composition, but I make sure to allow the painting to change in color, temperature, season, light, mood, etc. Sometimes I simply begin with a colour wash and allow the atmosphere to direct the painting.


Studio Walk by Re McBride


How has your practice evolved since graduating?

I think the photo reference is less apparent. Also, I rarely use the figure anymore. The human element feels present in flowers on a gravestone or a graffiti painting on a wall.


What/Who are your key influences?

Edvard Munch, Peter Doig, Lois Dodd, Gustav Klimpt, Giotto, cemeteries, the woods, Christmas lights, literary fiction, wildflowers, love songs, New york, window displays, graffiti, the beach, solitude, train rides.


Tiny Paradise by Re Mcbride


How do you decide when to use oils and when to use watercolours? Do you have a favourite?

Often I think an image lends itself more to one or the other. Also after I finish an oil painting, I want to do something that feels more immediate and economical, or I'm just looking for a different speed.

It's hard to choose a favorite, though I love the objectness of an oil painting as well as the history. Beginning an oil painting feels more like a mystery for me. But at this point I rely on them both, the variety keeps me engaged in a regular practice.


What do you want to get across with your work?

I want to capture the mood of a specific time and place. I want my paintings to evoke feelings of longing and tribute at times isolation, and other twinges of human emotion.


Prattsville by Re McBride


When did you realise you wanted to become an artist?

I have wanted to be an artist since I was a little kid. I had my doubts as I got a bit older, but later I had a lot of support when I was in high school. I took extra classes on weekends and in the summer so that I could learn more and work towards studying art in college.


How did you find working throughout the pandemic? Do you feel that your art has changed much because of it?

Working during the pandemic was really important for me. I felt fortunate to have a place to go and make things when the rest of the world had come to a close. I lost my job and for the first time in seven years I had every day to paint. It's certainly what kept me moving during a difficult time and allowed me to be more committed.

I made a lot of floral paintings during that time partially because they were meditative for me to paint but also cheerful. Initially, I made one using a photo I had taken and then invented many more floral spaces. I also discovered new places in Brooklyn on my long walks that informed much of the work.


Ridgewood Cemetery by Re McBride


What have you been working on recently?

I just finished a floral piece for a calendar project and a graffiti landscape oil of Forest Park in Queens. Now that it's summer and safe to travel, I hope to take many photos to inspire new work.

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