In this encore episode I’m sharing a conversation with Roxanne Coble, a mixed media artist, illustrator, and maker of things in Los Angeles.

She’s known for her detailed art journaling which fuses mixed media and painted illustration. Inspired by all things macabre, completed pages embrace a balance of humor and dark emotional themes – all while exploring topical events that occur within her personal life.

Her work has been featured on the cover of Art Journal Magazine and more recently as a guest artist on the PBS show Make It Artsy.

I wanted to chat with Roxanne because her art is so alive with imagery and symbolism. I had a feeling she’d be bubbling over with thoughts and ideas, and I was right. We discussed the creepiness of fairy tales, girl gangs, visual symbolism and hands. Especially hands.

If you’re a creative curious person I know you’ll enjoy this conversation.

Things we chatted about in this episode:

the fairytale The Worn Out Dancing Shoes

  • Loves fairytales, the idea of something spooky, lurking, that will consume you and take you down in some way.
  • Most interesting part of it is how is someone meet their demise.
  • watched a VHS tape of Grimms fairytales, growing up. An anime version of three different Grimm’s fairytales – favourite was ‘the worn-out dancing shoes’ also called ‘the 12 dancing princesses’ and ‘the shoes that were danced to pieces’
  • the story evokes nostalgia for her – loved watching it growing up
  • the scariness of the true forms of things being revealed was appealing
  • particularly liked the specific visual traits associated with each girl/princess – realizes as an adult that order is appealing, visual organization
  • loved the dark sides of the story – the fact the princesses were poisoning the guards, running away and getting into trouble overnight, that the princes were actually winged beast demons
  • how the princesses were like a big gang of girls – you go out and have a good time at night
  • how Roxanne joined a sorority in college because it was so not her, even lived in the house with 60 other women, and enhanced her college experience
  • how Janelle wanted a girl gang and joined the rowing team in university, was very fit but disappointed no one had the energy to go out at night
  • is such a visual communicator, and really resonated with the visual elements of that fairytale on video

relationship with creativity

  • has been studying and doing art her entire life
  • in mid 20s realized she needs to create something every day – in order to feel full
  • it’s more than a need, it’s the only way to function and cope, her way of dealing and navigating through the world
  • gets a little cranky if a day goes by without doing something
  • always thinking about how to control her art, mixed media art journaling – is working towards a finished work of art, and always thinking about how to control composition, palette, and keep things unified
  • symbolism comes in with the illustrative elements of her work – really resonated with the fairytale because of this
  • struggles with anxiety and plagued by nightmare – conveys that through specific symbolism and images
  • has a creative supportive husband who sees and encourages her – helps her connect the dots
  • made the commitment to create everyday and started carving out time for it, no matter what else was going on

relationship with body

  • was scared to answer that question
  • thinks of her body as a vessel for making things
  • relationship to body is fear, a continuous fear – explores in her art – the theme of a constant fear that something tragic will happen to her right hand, and she’ll lose the ability to make art
  • not afraid to die, or the end of life, but fears something traumatic happening to her while still alive
  • the thought of losing her ability to make art terrifies her
  • all about the right hand and why she draws it so often
  • to combat fear, has done a lot of research on hands and discovered hands are a common cemetery symbol – the divine hand, that the direction of the hand on the tombstone means different things
  • a childhood shopping cart injury to her hand
  • imagery and symbolism in art – a lot of bones – arise because of pleasure from drawing and detailing them

relationship with being an artist who also teaches

  • mom was an art educator, so Roxanne grew up around creating and teaching
  • from kindergarten to 8th grade her mom was using her as a guinea pig and student
  • originally thought she’d be an art teacher in a public school, so went through a teaching credential program
  • approaches teaching as both a trained art educator and as a kooky artist

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