“Seeing Things”: Nathan Spoor interviews Craola

by Nathan SpoorPosted on

Since last year’s “It Wanders” series, we’ve been waiting to see what Greg “Craola” Simkins has his sights set on next and we will not be disappointed. His latest offerings are a group of lush new paintings for his solo show “Seeing Things,” opening February 5th, 2009 at FIFTY24 Gallery in San Francisco’s lower Haight district. Artist Nathan Spoor caught up with Greg as he worked to complete the show and brings us this tasty update. Included is a incredibly generous sneak peek at two of the newest pieces in the show plus even more generous, are glimpses of his working sketches.

Nathan Spoor: So tell us a little about this new exhibition, “Seeing Things”.

Greg “Craola”Simkins: It is basically a continuation of the themes from the “It Wanders” series. I wanted to keep it going, the surrealistic still life images, the odd characters in familiar surroundings, and moth eggs, my favorite breakfast food.

The Farewell

Nathan: What inspirations are you drawing from for this particular showing?

Craola: Let’s see, trips to the zoo, drinking lots of coffee, biology and science class, antiquing with Nanna, working on my ever growing needle point collection, a love for 15th and 16th century classical paintings, graffiti, and for some reason, loneliness.

Arachnid detail

Spiderknight sketch

Nathan: Besides paintings, do you find yourself creating in any other mediums?

Craola: I did a few ink illustrations for this show as well. It is my next favorite medium to acrylics and allows me to take off on different creative paths.

Escapes detail


Nathan: How would you describe your process on these works? Do you work directly onto the canvas, or is there an intensive sketching process involved?

Craola: I generally carry a spiral bound lined notebook with me everywhere I go. You know the kind you pretended to take notes with in school, but instead doodled the entire time.

Lost in Thought

I jot down every idea and do quick thumbnail sketches throughout the day so as not to lose ideas. I later revisit them and refine the ones I want to paint, eventually redrawing on panel or transferring a cleaned up version. I enjoy the idea process, and will splice together the sketched thumbnail images if I think they will work together. So far I have many books full of ideas and not enough time to paint them.

Escapes sketch

Whale characters sketch

Nathan: Your work over the years has maintained a healthy narrative and quite surreal quality. As you grow as an artist, what do you see for your work in the future?

Craola: I have been playing around with some new layouts on paper that I would like to introduce in future shows. Different juxtapositions, merging of some of my older scenes with my newer still life’s, and I have some stuff up my sleeve that I am just going to keep there until I have it in a presentable format.

Keepsake sketches

Nathan: Advice to younger artists is always key. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to bestow on the inspired youth of today?

Craola: Try to paint or draw /sketch everyday to hone your craft. Be mindful that you will never be the greatest thing to ever happen to art, but work as if that is your goal. In other words, keep a level head and push your creativity as far as you possibly can. Respect others, especially those who have gone before you.

Nathan Spoor

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