We had the good fortune of connecting with Vonn Cummings Sumner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vonn, how do you think about risk?
The element of risk has become absolutely necessary for my creative process. I need to feel like I could scrape off a painting at any time and start over; and I also need to feel like any time I finish a painting it is a risk- the risk that it could be embarrassing, ridiculous, or a failure of some kind. I have come to see this risk of failure to be central to my process.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a painter, and for me that means that I paint and/or draw nearly every day. That of course is not easy, as life always tries to get in the way. But everything in my life comes from the central practice of painting and drawing, and not the other way around. Along the way I have learned that one has to trust themself, and decide their own definition of success and validation, and that means ignoring the illusions of the market-driven hype-machine that surrounds us all the time. I have a handful of painter friends whom I trust, and their input and opinion is invaluable to me. The respect of those peers is my form of validation. I have come to believe that even an individual art like painting, which is done alone in a studio, is still a collaborative process. Artists need community, without that it doesn’t mean anything. I feel so fortunate to have found the artist friends that I have; that interaction makes the whole thing come alive.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, this is the age of Covid, so I would get some sushi takeout and eat it by the ocean. I would try to take my time as much as possible, wander around and be open to new experience. I crave silence and slow time, so I would try to create a space and a pace where we could do that together.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to send a shout out to all of my teachers, from kindergarten through graduate school. They were so generous and encouraging to me, and I have learned first hand what a challenging and draining thing it can be to teach. So I practice gratitude daily, thanking all of the special people who took teaching seriously and helped me along the way. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such great teachers.
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All images copyright Vonn Cummings Sumner 2020. Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer.