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Interview with painter Matte Stephens

We just released a superfun 380 piece puzzle of  Matte Stephens new painting Manhattan (shown above). You might have seen Matte's distinctive style before, for example, his Autumn in NY painting was hanging on the wall of Mitchell and Cameron's place in the sitcom Modern Family. You can see more of Matte's work on his website.

MAYA: Tell us about this painting.

MATTE: I love NYC. The first time I saw it I was on a train from Birmingham to Boston. Birmingham doesn't have any tall buildings, and looking at the city from the train, I was just amazed at how unbelievably dense New York was.

MAYA: Which bridges are those in the painting?

MATTE: Hmmm... maybe the Brooklyn bridge and the George Washington bridge.  I take artistic license with most cities I do, like I'll put iconic buildings next to each other that are 10 miles apart in real-life.

MAYA: Have you been to all the cities you've painted?

MATTE:  No, I'm afraid to fly.  I've had 3 shows in Australia, and they've asked me to paint Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne. They had to send me photos.

MAYA: What city would you like to see and paint?

MATTE: Paris in the 1920's.   I'm looking into a Transatlantic crossing by sea.

MAYA: Tell us about your choice of colors.

MATTE:  I labor over the colors even more than the drawing.  I like dirty colors, muddied up colors.
 I mix all my own colors-   I never use anything straight out of the tube, it would bother me too much  to do that.

MAYA: You have a very distinctive style, how did you evolve that?

MATTE: It's the only way I can paint, I don't paint any other way.  I use goauche, it lends itself to kind of an old look, because that's what the old designers and illlustrators used in the old days, so it
automatically has that nostalgic feel to it.

MAYA: How do you decide what to paint?

MATTE: I labor over ideas and concepts. I like the absurd, and
simplifying life down to the really basics.

We have six cats, and they all have totally different personalities,
so you see those personalities in the animals that I paint. Like our one-eyed cat Irving, I can just
see him wearing clothes out of an old movie, and well, then I paint that.

MAYA: It's been great talking to you. What can we look forward to from you next?

MATTE: I'm illustrating a children's book based on the 1960's absurdist art collective Fluxus.

MAYA: I think of Fluxus as the antecedent of flash mobs, and the epitome of art-not-taking-art-seriously. Coincidentally, this sounds like a great exhibit on Fluxus in Manhattan (til December 3).

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