Sweetrocket is a contemporary artist living in
The United States of America. She was born in
Eugene, Oregon and has been creating art since
age 3. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree
in Psychology from the University of Colorado
at Boulder, but is primarily self taught as an
artist. Her current work consists of large-scale
chalk pastel drawings on paper. She has shown
her work at various galleries in Boulder and Denver,
Colorado, and is rapidly expanding her audience
to include venues on a national scale. This is
her first interview outside the United States.
Sweetrocket lives and works as a full-time artist
in Lafayette, Colorado. An extensive collection
of her recent work can be viewed online at: www.sweetrocket.com.
1. 1-Could you please introduce your
work to our readers?
My work consists primarily of large-scale chalk
pastel drawings on paper. My subject matter ranges
from real to surreal in nature and most recently
includes a mixture of organic and inorganic elements.
2. Could you please describe the technique
that you use?
Chalk pastel does not require a brush. I draw
with my fingers or often my whole hand, blending
the pastel to create the effect I’m looking
for. I always wear gloves and a mask when I’m
working, as pastel dust can be toxic. I mount
my paper directly on the wall and I’m standing
when I draw. My drawings are so large that to
cover the whole space really involves a lot of
physical movement so I end up getting my whole
body into it. It’s a workout!
3. How has your mother, Marilyn Krysl,
inspired you as an artist?
Very positively. Watching her succeed as a writer
while I was growing up was a huge inspiration.
An inspiration as well as something to live up
to. Even today when I hear her read I’m
in awe. Her writing teaches us dignity, courage,
strength. I want my art to do the same thing.
I think it’s more difficult to accomplish
this with a static image, but I’m working
4. How spontaneous are you when you
Probably less spontaneous than most artists.
I always start out with a plan for a drawing.
I sketch it out and know where I want it to go.
The spontaneity I think comes in the process of
trying to achieve my desired result. Other forces
take over along the way and I discover I’m
not as in control as I’d like to be. The
fact that one ultimately can’t control a
drawing is both great and horrible.
5. How much time do you usually spend
on a drawing?
Usually a couple of weeks depending on subject
and size. Sometimes things will go really well
and I’ll finish a drawing in a week, or
if I encounter problems it can take 3 weeks or
6. What do you try to convey to your
public? Do you often try to pass a message?
Rather than conveying a message I’m more
concerned with conveying a feeling. I’d
rather have a viewer feel something than think
something. That said, my drawings are open to
interpretation. I want the viewer to decide what
a piece means to them.
7. Do your drawings carry political
or symbolic messages?
Yes and no. I know what a drawing means to me,
but I rely on the viewer to make up his or her
own story about the piece. To one person a drawing
might be political, to another emotional or psychological.
What’s important to me is that they get
from the drawing something that’s meaningful
8. Would you say your work carries a
Yes, for me it undoubtedly does. I hope viewers
will find the spiritual component in my drawings
regardless of their personal interpretation. I
want them to look at a piece and be uplifted,
to remember they are more than their body, their
house, their country; to go beyond all that to
where we are something more. The infinite is always
accessible but we forget that so easily these
days. My hope is that my work will be a vehicle
that reconnects people with the infinite.
9. How have your studies in the field
of Psychology influenced your work?
More in an emotional than an intellectual way.
Studying psychology made me more aware of our
humanness and taught me that there’s really
no such thing as crazy, it’s more just our
perspective. I hope this shows up in my work on
some level. I want my art to be validating to
the viewer. I want them to feel their uniqueness
10. Is there a reason why you opted for
Art as opposed to Literature?
Not a conscious one. I don’t think we make
these decisions. I was always making visual art
from the time I was very small. That was my gift
and what interested me. I love literature, but
it’s never been my calling. I’ve only
written two poems in my life.
11. a. Who are your favourite artists?
Which one of them has inspired you?
Some of my favourites are James Rosenquist, Keith
Haring, and Frida Kahlo, but each for different
reasons. Rosenquist’s loud colours, striking
imagery and the sheer size of his work have always
caught my attention. Haring was simply a fascinating
person, and I like the universal way in which
his art communicates. The geometric and symbolic
qualities of his work appeal to my designer side.
Kahlo’s ability to convey pain and emotion
in a very visceral, personal way really makes
sense to me.
11. b. Who is your favourite American
artist of all time?
Georgia O’Keeffe. I’m drawn in by
her simple, elegant flowers painted close up.
I like the way she uses colour and shape, almost
abstracting an image as she zooms in. Her paintings
have a wonderful grounding and calming effect.
12. Have writers, musicians, or anyone
in the field of psychology inspired you?
No specific musician has inspired me more than
others, but music has a huge effect on me. If
I wasn’t called to art I might have been
a musician. I’m particularly inspired by
opera. It speaks to my artistic concerns: drama,
emotion and feeling. I always listen to music
when I draw and some of my best ideas happen when
I’m listening to music.
13. What colours do you use more often
in your work? Is there a special reason why you
use some colours or motifs more often than others?
I use a lot of red in my drawings. I can’t
seem to get enough of it. Red is such an emotional
color–it’s arresting. And it’s
a symbol for so many different things: passion,
anger, blood, pain, power… I use it because
it’s so intense.
14. Describe one of your own favourite
paintings. Could you tell us why it happens to
be one of your favourites?
Artichoke II is one of my favourite pieces and
it was a turning point for me. In this drawing
I tried to present both the physical and the spiritual
aspects of the plant. To me it’s a portrait
the way someone might do a portrait of a spiritual
figure. It’s important that we maintain
reverence for the things around us, but so easy
to forget this in our commercial society. There’s
an entire universe inside a fruit. I think the
drawing was successful, and it opened the door
to my Forbidden Fruit Series which followed shortly
15. Could you also talk to us about your
work in Graphic design?
I started my graphic design business in 1997.
Design is exciting and the computer is an amazing
tool. Almost anything is possible digitally these
days and that’s invigorating. Ultimately
I want to stop designing so I can draw full time,
but I’ll miss the design when I stop doing
16. Do you think that the events of September
11 have created a new artistic movement in the
Yes. I’ve seen lots of art come out of
that event. To me it’s another reminder
to me of how short life is and how important it
is to make the best of what little time we have.
I think many artists responded to the pain and
shock of 9/11. I responded more to the philosophical
implications. The more we deny that we are all
one, the more pain we discover ourselves in.
17. What role does art play in the commercial
world that we live in?
A large one. Art is the little voice that will
never go away. It’s an important way of
communicating and can often be more powerful than
the written word. It needs to be there to remind
us of things we might otherwise forget. It’s
an important regulator.
18. Do you think that a piece of art
can be over analysed at times?
Certainly. Human nature is to explain things,
but the beauty of art is that you can make up
your own story about the meaning of a piece, however
over the top it might be. This is ok because your
story may not be true for everyone, but it’s
true for you.
19. Imagine you were given the possibility to
draw on a wall in your neighbourhood. What would
you draw on it?
Probably I would draw something similar to the
things I draw normally. I find it difficult taking
requests and opinions into consideration when
I’m working. Even though such a piece would
be more public than most of my art, I would have
to approach it in the same way I approach any
less public drawing.
20. What are you currently working on?
I’m still exploring the idea of barbed
wire as metaphor and the interaction between the
organic and inorganic worlds. I’ll probably
keep exploring this subject until there’s
nothing more for me to say about it.
21. What question would you ask Riva
Did you always know you would be an artist ?
Yes. When I was in grade school I told everyone
I was going to be an artist when I grew up. But
then in high school my father discouraged me.
He thought I should pursue a career in a more
lucrative field, such as information technology.
I think he was worried I wouldn’t survive
as an artist. I half believed him and went into
psychology thinking it would be a safer career
than art, but now here I am! There’s really
no point in not doing what you love. When you
start doing it, things fall right into place and
suddenly you’re successful. I should never
View the Paintings of
Negar Shirazi :
-Born in Tehran just before the revolution.has lived
in Tehran and London.
-went to the International School of Geneva and
later on to University of Lausanne.
-She majored in English Sociolinguistics. Also studied
literature and journalism (Theory of Communication
-Classes and seminars followed related to language
teaching, second language learning, language and
-Mémoire topic dealt with the use of language
in the media (An analysis of news interviews)