Today I'd like to introduce you to Artist Ramel Jasir. Ramel is a fascinating Artist with a unique style and a love for color that comes out in big bold beautiful works!
Hi there Ramel. How are you today?
I am wonderful….
How’s your year going so far?
So far my year is going great. 2011 has been very good to me thus far.
I have to say, your work is beautiful. It’s so unique and detailed I can only imagine that you’ve had Artistic Vision since childhood. Is that the case?
Yes I have been an artist since my earliest memories. Like all children I started off drawing with crayons and school pencils but I was always very meticulous and was always trying to be the best artist in my class.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia in an area called Prentis Park on Elm Avenue.
Was there a creative outlet for you as a child?
Mostly drawing…. I was the youngest of 7 children on my mother’s side. By the time I was born my siblings were a few years older and one sister had already had a child of her own a few months before I was born. So I kind of grew up as an only child in my household because by the time I was about 11 or 12 everyone had moved out of the house except for me. So drawing was something I did all day every day. I had many sketch books and I would draw on the front and back of very page…..lol
What types of activities did you do in school that influenced you?
When I was in the second grade I use to draw pictures for other kids…. I usually charged a quarter which was big money in the second grade. I would draw pictures for other kids if they had a project or homework etc. so I always had a little extra lunch money. In high school, I was a little rebellious and craved attention, so I use to draw pictures of other students and faculty on the classroom desks. It was many months before they found out who was doing it. The pictures were hilarious because I was pretty good with realism by high school and I drew pretty fast. I never sat in the same desk during some of the classes and I would move from one desk to another right after drawing a picture and no one really noticed because I sat towards the back of the room. Other than, that I took art as an elective but I hated the class. Drawing fruit and still objects was boring as well although I appreciate still artwork nowadays.
Sounds like you had a lot of creative fun and skill as a child. Did you know then what you wanted to do with your life?
Well, I wanted to be an artist and everyone told me that was what I should do but there were always those to spoke about the “starving artist” and that you can’t really make any money drawing so I kind of stopped drawing for many years. I did a lot of abstract collages in ink towards my senior year, but girls, alcohol and the streets kind of ended any thoughts of pursuing an art career. To this day, I have not really drawn a complete picture in pencil since maybe 1988. I have done many abstract ink drawings but graphite and charcoal were mediums of choice.
What medium(s) do you work with?
Nowadays, I paint in mostly acrylic but I use graphite or charcoal in some of the work as well. I like to mix a lot of different mediums especially when it comes to texture. I may use joint compound, molding paste or even thick Gesso mixed with paint. My favorite is mixing Plaster of Paris with water and Gesso to make an interesting texture and it dry very fast. I have yet to use oil paint in any of my works but I plan to very soon. I have even used candle wax, which hardens pretty quick but I like the affect when I spread it quickly on wet paint with my palette knife.
What inspires you to create?
My Queen, children and simply the joy sharing and creating are my greatest inspirations. I love the seeing people’s faces when they see my artwork for the first time. I am not one of those people that can just start a conversation but if you ask me a question it is on….LOL. So the interaction with people when showing my work at home or at an exhibition is inspiration with in itself, especially when someone is able to find some kind of connection within my work. On April 6th 2011 I will be having my first solo exhibition. I will be showcasing many of the pieces from my first two years as an artist. All but about four of the 35 or more pieces that will be shown were created after June 15, 2009 which was the day I found my self unemployed for the first time since I was a teenager. Not to mention that we had a baby on the way due in July. I had created several paintings before then but that day I really got serious and my subject matter seemed to change as well. That same summer I finally met some of my father’s children after years of searching and found out that I was the youngest of 33 children and also discovered that I was of Thailanese and Colombian descent on my fathers side. It was only the second picture I had ever seen of my father who died when I was 6 years old and I saw a picture of my grandfather for the first time who was from Thailand. I also found out that my great grandfather on my mother side was Caucasian and that my great grandmother was native American. Of course all of this threw me for a cultural loop. As I started to explore my ethnic background and family history, I started to discover other forms of indigenous art along the way. My palette went from mostly earth tone to multi-colored pieces in which I really enjoyed to create. Music was a critical factor in the direction of my paintings as well. Especially after I lost my job all of my paintings were mostly created while listening to music from Hector Lavoe, Ismael Rivera, El Gran Combo, Cheo Feliciano etc. and Fela Kuti. So Music was every instrumental in regards to the energy in my work so naturally a lot of my work is embedded with a lot of Taino Art and symbols. So again, this show will chronicle my first 2 years as an evolving visual artist show casing several different forms of indigenous and traditional contemporary art. One of the goals of my show is to try and transcend ethic or racial lines through my art by exposing those who visit my show to aboriginal art, northwest Indian art, African art, taino art etc all in one show…. These are forms of art that many would not have been otherwise exposed to. Sorry if I got of track a little.
That's OK. We love hearing all of the details! Do you have other Artistic outlets?
Yes, I write poetry and short stories…. And also play acoustic guitar from time to time.
I know that you are a Father. Do you include your children in the creative process? What is that like?
Well I have a one year old that will be two in July…. We have a two bed room duplex which is pretty big but not big enough for me to have a separate studio so part of my front room has been turned into part studio. It works out because I am a clean freak so I keep it pretty tidy….. but my son is always there while I am painting and always trying to get to my paints. No matter what I do or how loud I may yell, he will strategically re-evaluate his next plan of attack and this goes on day after day LOL but I love working around my son and it gives him an opportunity to see me in action and I can’t wait to purchase him his first paints. When my older children come over, they love to see the new work as well. It catches their attention for about 1 or 2 minutes and then it is off to the Xbox 360. Again I like having my son around but we do have to get a larger place soon so that I can have my own studio space.
Who are some of your favorite Artists?
There are a few. Haida artist Bill Reid, a multitude of old school aboriginal artists, Monet, Picasso of course and several local artists such as Sharon Bachman-Hanson, Clayton Singleton and the great Wayne Potrafka who has been one of the consistent pioneers of art in Hampton Roads for years.
What is the story behind ‘Itchy Eye’ and ‘The Believer’?
Well, 'Itchy Eye' is my first composition in regards to paintings so that was one is special for me. I mean, I did another painting that look like a little promo for Halloween or something but I consider Itchy Eye as being the first painting that I was really proud of. It was all trail and error and I had no idea how to paint trees. Even when I was drawing with ink and graphite I never used trees in my drawing. So that is why the branches are coming out from the side of the painting. So I decided to run with it because the yellowish moon looked like an eye so I wanted the branches of the tree to look like the veins of a person’s eye. I had no idea how to mix paint and no idea of light composition or orientation in a painting as well but I like how it came out. I may never sell that one.
'The Believer', was something quickly done in February of 2010…. I was thinking about my son when I did it because he has gray eyes and I had not seen him in several months being that he lives in a different state. Even though the picture is not of a child, my son inspired the eyes…. I knew that the eyes and orientation of the nose and mouth were not really correct but I liked it and left it alone…. I painted it in about 20 to 30 minutes. I originally called it “The Grey Fox” after this cool older cat that use to live down the street from me when I was a child. He was tall and cool as hell. The women in the area called him the Grey Fox LOL but I renamed it the Believer because he looked more spiritual to me than anything.
What’s coming up Artistically for you?
Like I mentioned before, I have a solo art exhibition coming up on April 6, 2011 at the Old Dominion University VA Beach campus. The opening reception is from 6 to 8pm and the show will run through April 29th. It is actually co-sponsored by Norfolk State University. I also have some work that will on exhibition at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach on April 8th so it will be a busy week. I will be doing a couple of exhibitions in Europe as well in which I an working out travel and shipping now. Other than that I am looking forward to throwing a big birth day bash/art show on my birth day in July. I will be turning 40….. What better way to get my mind off of turning 40 than to have an art show!
Do you have any inspirational words you can offer other Artists?
Yes I do. Here are a few quotes I tell myself several times a week. 'Plan your works and work your plans'. 'Those who fail to plan, plan to fail'. 'The first time you settle for less is when you get less than what you settle for in the first place' and most importantly, 'Anything that your mind can conceive can be brought for onto the physical plane so make it happen'. Don’t sit around waiting for opportunity to come knocking, create your own opportunities and most importantly learn the business side of art so you will not fall for any dealer, collectors scams out there and there are plenty.
Thank you Ramel. That is great advice! Where can we find out more about you and your Art?
You can hit me on Facebook Ramel Jasir on Facebook All friend requests are welcome.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I have my website under construction and will be posting the new site on my Facebook page by April 1, 2011.
Thank you so much for sharing with us. You are a fabulous Artists and Energy and we wish you a Fabulous Career!
Thank you for having me and give me an opportunity to share….. Peace and Light