Esther Pearl Watson
You work a lot from your childhood diaries and personal memories. Do you ever suddenly remember something you had completely forgotten, and immediately know you need to make a painting of that?
Sure, but they are mostly ideas or feeling of a moment. Like trying to capture what it was like to be a teenager thinking you knew so much only in hindsight realizing how little you knew.
Can you explain the saucers to those who are not familiar with your work?
My father built flying saucers in the front yard when I was growing up in Texas. He no longer builds them now. I paint saucers to feminize the idea of the space race. My daughter now associates flying saucers with Mom. So I paint pink flying saucers for her.
I remember reading in a previous interview of yours that your father’s saucers “never made it more than a few feet off the ground.” I was wildly impressed - did he in fact get his saucers to hover? I think that’s amazing.
He did build one to finish that hovered a few feet off the ground. I have a memory of it although it supposedly happened before I was born. Perhaps I can just imagine it.
Were their multiple saucers? Did you ever have a favorite saucer, or thought some were more successful than others?
My dad built about 5 large saucers. Almost all were unfinished. At the time I was embarrassed by them but now I appreciate all of them as manifestations of his vision to make his world a better place. He was designing the future of transportation so that it would not need gas or tires.
You have multiple continuing comic series…what are you working on now? Are these projects perpetually in progress, or do you “know” when a series is finished?
I have quite a few projects that are big dream goals and some quick deadlines. Ideas are finished when I’ve pretty much exhausted every angle. Sometimes I put ideas out there in zine form. If I get a big reaction it motivates me to investigate what’s working. If response is like warm, I usually move on. I have painted over paintings, and abandoned many comics half formed. Sometimes I go back and re-work ideas later. There are times when I’ve had an idea too early and have to mature enough to tackle it.
You wear all sorts of artistic hats - comics, painting, illustration - how do all of these processes work together, and how do they influence each other?
A lot of my work deals with storytelling and the character cast as an outsider. When done right, the media I use informs the story or idea. I use paintings like comic panels. I used to keep everything separate but now see that they are all linked. Comics, illustration and painting are all narrative formats.
Would you ever consider making a comics masterpiece of your entire diary through your paintings? Like a 1,000 page book of painting of your childhood.
I’ve thought about it. But they would never fall nicely into sequential order. My paintings are like dreams, some are re-occurring only the house is now pink instead of brown. Or one significant part of the story gets told many times over and over.
What are you working on these days?
Still making comics, zines, and paintings and now sculptures!
Any upcoming shows we should mark or projects we can look forward to?
Yes. I have a exhibition this November at Webb Gallery in Waxahatchie, TX.