Morgen Roloff Sechler paints what is comfortable: places and spaces from the home. Based in the Bay Area, California, she aims to capture spaces that look as if they are truly being lived in, including the empty bottle of wine next to your bed or the shamefully bought self help book.
How has your upbringing influenced you as an artist today?
I had a mostly normal childhood, raised in the suburbs, went to a high school I didn’t like, smoked weed for the first time out of a water bottle. The usual stuff. I guess the sense of normalcy always bothered me. I didn’t want the same upbringing as so many others. I’ve been painting since the beginning of high school. I would paint on really any surface I could get my hands on. In the middle of the night I used to go down to my school and steal all the scrap wood outside of the theater because I couldn’t afford canvases, also they seemed vaguely intimidating back then. There was such an intense need for escapism, whenever I would paint, I felt like I was stepping into an alternate reality where I didn’t have to be a part of the mundane. I could create my own identity, world, and spaces and I think a lot of that feeling is visible or present in the pieces I do now. A space that looks tangible but is slightly twisted and altered, you can relate to it but it doesn’t seem like your world anymore.
Do you listen to music while you paint? What do you listen to?
Oh absolutely I do! I really can’t paint without it. I really can’t do much without it at all. Music was definitely the first love, painting kind of naturally came second. I think they go very much hand in hand for me, personally. Music can alter your mood, it can shift your focus, it can get you on your game or completely take you off. Music is a huge influence in my paintings. Whatever I’m listening to comes through onto that canvas in some way, shape or form, whether I physically paint an instrument or the vibe’s just kind of there. I recently had my neighbor tell me he’ll hang out on his porch sometimes because he likes what he hears coming out of my room. I thought that was really endearing and I also apologized because I am LOUD. Of course, my tunes are always changing. Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of Natural Child, HUGE fan of Tank and the Bangas, Cass McCombs, Bad Camper, and Jerkcurb are solid listens, always love some Karen Dalton, and the Lijadu Sisters, so bad ass! I also just came across this really interesting band called Sheep, Dog & Wolf. I would also be doing an injustice if I didn’t mention this one song, Skylab by Dan Lacksman. Really, I believe if music didn’t have this influence over me, these paintings and maybe me painting in general wouldn’t be here. So, thank you music!
Can you give us a walk through of your creative process?
Okay, so let’s keep talking about music! It really starts there. Pick a playlist, an album or an artist that jives well with my mood and just dive in. To break it down further though, I’m a notebook hoarder, like so many of us are. I’ve managed to narrow them down. I keep them next to my bed and kind of scattered in various other places, whenever I imagine a space I sketch it down. The alternative of that would be take a picture of a space I’m in then work later off that image. I like to focus heavily on color usage too, it’s actually a huge part of the process for me. I only paint using primary colors, every single color is hand blended in each piece I do. I find it to be the most challenging part, color blending gets tricky but it’s so rewarding when you blend such a beautifully perfect color. I’m still trying to master getting a perfect purple. When I actually get into the process though, it’s not as charming. I paint in my bedroom, crammed next to my TV and all my crap with a wide, west facing window and poor air conditioning, so I’m usually going at it in 80+ degrees. So my process comes down to putting on some loud ass music, sweating profusely, pacing around the room, going crazy from the heat while spraying myself down with a water gun. Funny thing is it works, when that first stroke pops out from all that intentional pent up energy, it just continues to flood out from there. Maybe I won’t be as good of a painter when it cools down.
How has your work evolved over time?
This isn’t an easy one to answer. I was so swept up in my imagination when I was younger and starting to explore with music, art and making paintings that I think it somewhat derailed me after high school. I spent so much time in those alternate realities that when it came to growing up, providing for myself, getting a job, I didn’t know how to function in the real world while trying so tightly to hold onto my artistic identity. At some point it felt like I had to choose, the ultimatum was there. So, I started working full time, started running some coffee shop, going to work 8+ hours a day, drained, not even from the time but from the lack of stimulation, then suddenly I realized I haven’t picked up a brush in years. Something clicked and I needed to get back to who I was, I had to break that barrier and meet myself again. I’d say, right here is the beginning of my evolution because I’m not going to drop my brush again.
What stories or messages do you wish to tell through your creations?
I am a huge sucker for comfort, I love anything comfortable, I like to wear comfortable things and most importantly I like to be surrounded by comfortable spaces. I focus on styling a comfortable space for each painting but the reality is, however our spaces look, they are lived in! So many of us have had an empty bottle of wine laying next to our bed, or a cashed pipe sitting on the windowsill, or shame bought self-help books laying everywhere waiting to be read. When people look at my paintings, I want them to feel like it’s a space that’s being lived in, like you came over to someone’s house unannounced and got to see a first-hand look of how that person truly lives. There’s something so exposing about seeing someone’s space when they didn’t want it to be seen, it’s such an extension of who we are. I want people to recognize these spaces, but also be aware that they’re a bit messy and misunderstood because it’s not yours and you’re not them.
Do you have any particular goals for the future, what’s next?
My only foreseeable goal is to just keep painting, keep getting to know myself further, connecting with others that want or are looking for the same thing. I can’t really see myself doing anything other than art at this point and I don’t think that’ll change. I want to focus on not taking myself too seriously and tapping back into those alternate realities I used to love. I want to continue exploring this identity, just do it grown, aware and moving forward.
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