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Fantastic Mad Creatures By Robert Steven Connett - interview

011Robert Steven Connett is a Los Angeles based artist who celebrates dream sequences, as he describes, “I often think that dreams may be the gateway to another world. Perhaps a parallel world just as important as the waking world we call ‘reality?’ ” Robert is an introspective artist who offers a sincere look into life’s circumstance while creating an equidistant world made up of micro organisms, fear and beauty. Robert is a tireless painter who offers, “My most recent paintings express my interest in what I call the "UNDERWORLD". I’m fascinated by the worlds that exist beyond our immediate field of vision and have an abiding interest in the flora and fauna that occupy the space within these tiny worlds. The kind of things that one must hunt for in the grass, in the pools of water or with a microscope.”

I try to render my interpretations of these tiny worlds in my paintings. I love the insects, fish and simple life forms. Some of these creatures create exceptionally complex social structures that in many ways mirror the world where humans dwell. I find myself attracted to these subjects for their extraordinary physical beauty: fantastic design, structure and their complexities of color, translucence… It’s amazing how so many organisms have evolved into our complex world.” “Insectus,” was painted to give the insects human characteristics. Steven describes, “This is because in my opinion, their lives mirror the lives of people in so many interesting ways. Complex, yet also simple, the insect world is vast. These beings are unencumbered by the weighty things such as human intelligence. I sometimes yearn to become part of a simpler existence…”

Q: “Can you tell us about your early years? What is your background ?”

A: I was born in San Francisco on August 19, 1951. As a child it seemed I was always in trouble. In school I failed almost everything. I was moved forward from grade to grade on a “trial basis” because the overcrowded inner city school system could not afford to keep kids back. I dropped out of high school at 17 so I could take drugs and hang around in the streets with low friends. I ended up in the hospital at 18 from a heroin addiction (and a bout with hepatitis acquired from shared needles.). After wandering aimlessly through three more years of life in a black depression, I went to work for my father as a “GoFer” at his insurance office. I thought the job might last a few weeks, however, after 15 years, I ended up buying him out. I continued to run this business until the age of 44, (over 20 years). I was miserable in this work, but I had money. At night, I painted as a hobby, and as an outlet. I was a weekend binge drinker. I blacked out from drinking every weekend for 20 years. I even had a drinking club of similar souls we called “The BLACKOUT CLUB”

In 1995, I accidentally burned my house down one night when I was taking pain pills and drunk. In that fire I lost my extensive art collection, which I had amassed with every penny I made during my 23 years as an insurance broker. (I saved nothing. I invested nothing) I also lost many of my own paintings, and all my painting equipment. Fortunately, I had been renting a storage space. In this space I was able to save several original paintings.
After the fire, I went into the second major depression of my life. I again became addicted to heroin, (at age 45). The next years were spent pursuing junk, or kicking in rehabs. I managed to kick this addiction three years later. (though one never really kicks these addictions entirely)

After ruining my credit by maxing out my credit cards, I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with my creditors screaming on my heels. I declared bankruptcy in LA. I moved in with my girlfriend and we were married in 1998. I worked for a few years as a manager at a friend’s pornography company. Made good money. However, again, I was miserable doing this. In 2002 I left the porn racket and drifted from one job to another, usually as a ‘consultant’. (aka: Bullshit Artist) Also, I started drawing and painting again.
I was thrilled to sell a few works of art during this period. Finally something I actually enjoyed doing! Thus, after many adjustments, and with much help and support from my wife, I dropped everything else to create art full time in late 2004. My wife and I built our home and my studio that same year. I’ve been painting full time ever since. Being an artist has brought me a happiness that I have never had. It took me 50 years to find this. Now, for me and my art, it is a race with time.

Q: “What inspired you to first pick up the brush?”

A: When I first worked as an insurance agent I found myself falling into a rut. I would work all day, come home exhausted, and watch TV until I needed to sleep. After seven or eight years of this, I became more and more depressed. My weekend drinking got worse. I felt that I was essentially a useless human parasite. So, I began drawing at night. I had always enjoyed drawing as a kid. I also used it cathartically to ease tension and anxiety. Drawing relaxed me. I feel that creating art is a “redeeming quality”. This helped me get over my “parasitic complex”. I was 29 years old when I began doing this instead of TV. Within a year my hobby grew and I was painting with watercolor. For the next 15 years my habit was to work in the day, and paint at night. My obsession with this hobby grew over time until it became much more important to me than the business I transacted during the day. One of my drinking buddies suggested that I show my work. So, the day came when I had my first little art showing. It was in a restaurant and I was 35 years old. Nothing was for sale at this showing. At that point all my art was to precious to me to sell. Something I would regret 10 years later when most of it burned up in a fire.

















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