For painter Winston Chmielinski, art is a magic mirror. “It shows you everything you want–and don’t want–to see.” When Winston started making art, it was about breaking free, carving his own path, and going against the grain. These days, he makes art to understand the world around him better. He approaches his work gently since he is interested in the quietest of things. Throughout his career, his artwork has served all parts of the spectrum, reflecting his growth beautifully.
Can you tell us about your process?
I strive to be intentional about as many parts of the painting process as possible. Making my own paints and grounds, sourcing my own linen, etc. I’ve pushed away a lot of formulas to discover through trial and error. I really like to know the why, and even though things take longer for me, it feels like time well spent.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a professional artist?
In hindsight it was inevitable. The only thing I could stick to was making art. Nothing else kept me engaged.
When you are looking for inspiration, what resources do you turn to?
I look to ancient and non-occidental art a lot. I’m intuitively drawn to less literal perspectives, colors, and forms.
Walk us through a typical day in your studio. What is your routine?
I wake up, meditate, bike to the studio, work all day, and sometimes get pulled into research tunnels on archive.org and Pinterest.
Finding the right rhythm to be productive in the studio can be a challenge, what advice do you have for staying productive and focused?
I don’t believe in willpower. I believe in inspiration, and aligning with what you’re here to do. In my experience, the biggest obstacle to flow is self-judgment. So many things looked weird from the outside and I didn’t give them time of day. Now, I’m playing catch up with my own creative debt, and doing everything no matter how trivial-seeming or off-path it appears to be. If there’s energy there, explore it.
What advice do you have for combating creative block?
Turn off your phone and do something to majorly switch gears. A lot of blockage comes from unconsciously comparing oneself with others. Unfortunately, almost everything we look at is designed to incite comparison and competition.
As an artist, how do you measure success? Can you recall a specific event in your career that made you feel successful?
Seeing lots of loose ends come together through a creative pursuit. Sometimes, events consolidate like that. But honestly, it’s more like a feeling of heightened clarity mixed with deja vu.
How do you see the art market changing? Where you do see yourself in this transition?
Tech is transforming art, and I’m all for it. I believe art can be something that interacts with us, takes part in our daily lives, helps us grow and learn, and changes its form as our tastes evolve.
What advice do you have for artists who are beginning to build their careers?
The life of an artist is never linear. Maybe studies come after exposure or vice versa. My advice would be, just don’t over-identify. Find your style and then explore beyond it. Always give yourself ample room to grow.
Do you consider yourself, and all artists, to be entrepreneurs? Why or why not?
Personally, I am a startup-type person. But I definitely think it’s a personality thing, and not right for everyone.
Failure is an inevitable part of success in any field. Do you have advice for overcoming setbacks?
Frustration is always the beginning of flow. Just remember to switch gears, don’t dwell or fixate too long! Switching can be the hardest thing.
What sparked your interest in partnering with TurningArt?
I believe all art should be on rotation! I love TurningArt’s model and have found so much support here. It’s an amazing way to create an authentic connection and audience.
What does having your artwork in the workplace and other commercial or public spaces mean to you?
I prefer to show my art where people spend the majority of their time - where people gather organically. The context of the workplace, or public & commercial spaces, is exactly where I want my art to be.