Timeless Nostalgia |
April Seelbach on Chance and Inspiration
By SARAH TELESCA | April 9, 2019
It may have been an adventitious decision that led April Seelbach to sell her belongings and leave her home base in St. Pete to travel the country by van, but the resulting timeless and nostalgic paintings that organically emerged have turned out to be the artist’s bread and butter.
The artist’s first solo show, “Roadside Attractions,” will start its monthlong run at MIZE Gallery in St. Pete on Friday, April 12. In a conversation with Creative Pinellas, Seelbach talks about some sources of artistic inspiration: female artists and the distinctive, magnetic styles of the 1960s and ’70s.
Are there any artists who you take inspiration from? I see some similarities between your work and art by James Hyde or David Humphrey, for instance.
I’d say my current style has come about from inspiration by a number of female artists found simply by using social media (probably not a surprise for my generation). I first got into travel photography when I discovered Molly Steele. She captures a warmth that makes you ache to be outside, in the middle of nowhere. I shoot with my iPhone, an old Canon Rebel, and some random ’90s point-and-shoot 35mm camera. When I discovered Dana Trippe, she was shooting mostly portrait work but doing something I hadn’t really seen before—adding funky little painted designs to her photos. I was already making small handmade prints of my landscapes for the local [St. Pete] Indie Market and I started messing around painting little flowers on them. People loved it so much I began designing the images in Photoshop and only selling prints of those. It kind of took on a life of its own and I never went back to plain landscapes. I get a lot of color and design inspiration from Rachel Breeden of Circa78 Designs, Dawn Aquarius and Jenny Sharaf.
What relationship do the painted patterns have to the natural landscape you paint them over?
I don’t actually know if they have a relationship. They don’t exactly make sense, but somehow they work together. Or maybe that’s how all relationships are.
Can you talk about the conjunction between the nostalgia for a certain period in your painting and the timelessness of the natural landscapes you photograph?
My work is all about nostalgia. I have felt this unusual attraction to the style, fashions, colors, music and artwork of an era I was never even present in. I’ve really just combined that with the longing feelings I have when I revisit my photos, which I do regularly. Creating these pieces takes me back to a specific time, a specific place, one I have been to, and one I have not.
Do you seek out specific shots and locations for your photos, or do you wait for the “right” image to present itself?
I’m always just shooting for fun. Going with the flow, shooting whatever I feel without overthinking it. I never really imagine how it will come together as a work of art. I’m in the moment. The rest comes later. Sometimes when I am going through photos I do maybe wish I had more options, or a different angle—there are many spots I would like to get back to.