The Abstract Paintings of Ezra Siegel

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Chicago artist Ezra Siegel

I was struck by Ezra Siegel’s paintings because his style is similar to what I’m trying (um, trying) to do while playing around with encaustic painting. I love that simple abstraction, a little moody but playful, neutral colors.

I got to chat with Ezra a bit while he was driving down to Houston for an art show, and it was super fun to have my first artist interview!

Not only was it cool to find out more about him, I thoroughly enjoyed talking to a fellow art-maker, because they are just as excited to talk about art concepts as you are. Usually when I try to talk about lines and shapes with the other suburban moms, they get eye twitches and explode.

Chicago artist Ezra Siegel

I didn’t ask him the interview questions I have planned for other artists, because it didn’t seem natural to shoot off a bunch of pre-written interview questions. I wanted to just have an informal discussion and ask him a few things I was curious about.

Ezra comes from a majorly artistic family, his dad a well-known photographer and his mother a multi media artist. His brother is Adam Siegel, an established artist that I remember well from my early days showing at art fairs in Chicago.

I found it interesting that Ezra originally studied art history and then slowly the lure of making art pulled him in, too, so he’s been painting since his early 20’s.

I think what I really resonated with was the presence of large, silhouetted forms in the foregrounds of his paintings, which reminded me of outsider artist Bill Traylor. I’m a huge fan of his work, and incidentally, so is Ezra.

He talked about the idea of creating a structure within which to work, that I think is an easily forgotten concept for creatives- otherwise the possibilities out there can become overwhelming. This structure gives you that sense of safety and focus that is an absolutely necessary balance to unleashing all that right brainedness.

Simplicity vs. complexity came up, and how the two can work in balance in a piece. This led to the idea of how disparate elements can come together to make up the whole piece, which Ezra explained with the example of pop music – (I love comparing different art forms and what makes them work.)

Chicago artist Ezra Siegel

Ezra Siegel website

Related: Bill Traylor book

There’s a children’s book about Bill Traylor!

Outsider art

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