Meet Paula Ogier.
She’s a colorful creative who is inspired by architecture and, of course, her Siamese cat Sammy.
Paula paints multi-layered images with an electronic pen and pad. She is self-taught at this medium after about a dozen years of experimentation and happy accidents. She likes designing original patterns and visually striking graphics which are often inspired by cultural motifs. Her muses are animals and architecture, and they often make their way into her art. Paula is a member of the SoWa Artists Guild of Boston and the United South End Artists of Boston.
Hey Paula! First, let’s start with the basics. Describe your style in 5 words.
We can definitely see that! When did you know you wanted to be an artist? Who or what inspired you to get started?
Peter Max was one of my early art influences. I first saw his art when I was 11, and I got one of his posters for my hippie-wannabe bedroom that my parents wouldn’t let me paint purple. At the time I was making pen drawings of swirly celestial landscapes and I could identify with his style and his uninhibited use of color. But even before that, I found I could lose myself in a piece of art. Later I discovered I could also lose myself in making art. I refer to this place of being greatly absorbed in art-making as “inner space.” It’s a vast world in there. I got to meet Peter Max 40 years later at a gallery reception and to my surprise, I got pretty teary. I think being face to face with him put me back in touch with my 11 year old self! There was a long period of time where art took a backseat to other things in my life. My poor, misinformed mom had always told me that work was not supposed to be fun. It took me some time to get past that notion and realize that art was indeed my work, and that it was a lot of fun for me.
What experiences helped form your artistic style today?
I remember being in a high school art class in Wisconsin, where I grew up. We each did a painting of a classroom model and then shared ours with the class. I didn’t even think about the fact that I had used completely unrealistic colors for the model’s skin and hair. It was completely expressionistic, without me even knowing what that was. Everyone made fun of my piece because of the “weird” choice of colors, and I’ll never forget the teacher telling everyone there was nothing at all wrong with that. I don’t recall her exact words, but basically she was saying that’s what art is about and it’s a good thing. It was a wonderful moment of validation for me, and I took artistic confidence from that experience.
Describe your creative process.
I think of myself as pretty equally left- and right-brained. I am always balancing experimentation with some ideas about what I’m striving to achieve. I might have ideas about how I want something to look, or how I’ll achieve that, but if what I’m creating isn’t really moving me, I usually shift into experimental mode. I’ve had lots of happy accidents, which often inform future endeavors.
How has your home style evolved over the years?
I no longer have a maniacal urge to paint walls. I probably did it one time too many and now I can’t bear the thought of painting a room again. In my previous home, I repainted many of the rooms a new color 6 or 7 different times. Joe, my partner of 14 years, is definitely drawn to a modern home style, and when we moved in together and later bought our current home together, my style pared down to cleaner lines. I like a modern and uncluttered look too, as long as it’s warm, but I also enjoy a bit of flourish and detail, and over time I’ve made it more interesting to me with color and texture in the details. Living in the heart of the city with limited square footage, you do have to edit things down if you don’t want to feel cramped. I strive for a balance between having space and having things I love around.
A marriage of styles! That’s a tough challenge that you’ve certainly tackled. If you’re running low on creative inspiration, what’s your remedy?
Honestly, this rarely ever happens. I often have several artistic projects going at once and it’s more a question of which will I work on. But I do have some wonderful muses that always stir my imagination, and the best and brightest of them is our Siamese cat Sammy. I’m also inspired by being around artists; seeing other artists’ work; flipping through UPPERCASE magazine; ApartmentTherapy.com house tours; walking around the city photographing buildings; and looking at motifs or designs on just about anything.
Great inspirations! Tell us about the story behind one of the designs you have on DENY.
Parisian Butterfly was one of a series of butterfly patterns I made with a travel theme in mind. I see butterflies as travelers, and because they are transformational creatures, as symbolic of the transformative nature of travel. It changes us on a variety of levels, opening us to new ways of being. I was also thinking of the Metropolitaine station entryways in Paris, and I brought some of that Art Deco influence into the design of the wings.
We love that! If you had to choose a piece of your own artwork and build a room around it, which piece would you choose and how would the space look?
I think I’d choose “Don’t Walk,” which is a photograph of a walk signal I took in downtown Boston and then digitally painted to silhouette effect (see below). The tip of the Old South Church is in the background. I am a walker by nature; I love to wander around. I like this piece’s simplicity and contrast, and the little bit of drama of an impending storm. I’d blow it up large as a focal piece of art on a pale aqua wall, probably with a simple black frame in the foyer of a city home. I can see a modern dark sideboard table beneath it with some red and orange tulips on it, their colors just brushing along the bottom edge of the painting. There would be a couple of wooden bowls on the table for holding keys and a camera so they are easy to grab when going out. This entryway would also have dark wood floors with wide planks, and a plush wool area pattern rug in shades of cream and orange. Even though the signal clearly says “Don’t Walk,” it still makes me want to take a walk.
You have so many great treasures and finds in your current space! Tell us the story behind a few of your favorites.
- Hanging over our bed is a framed print of an early 20th century Parisian street scene painted by the French artist Charles Cobelle (1902-1994). His very loose style—a marriage of painting and sketching—is very appealing to me. His style influences some of my more current work with architectural subjects. I like how he let boundaries between buildings, sky and other objects be fluid enough that these separate elements gently flow into one another at various intersections. It belonged to my partner Joe’s parents, and hung in their Brooklyn, NY home next to another Cobelle print, where I had always admired it.
- Joe’s father was a typewriter mechanic turned biomechanical engineer who also made sculptures from metal or wood just for fun. We have some of the simple water tower sculptures he made, modeled on the water towers that were once in abundance on the rooftops of New York City where he grew up. I love seeing the three of them, all slightly different, lined up together atop a yellow bookshelf in our entryway.
- There’s a colorful abstract colored pencil drawing over our desk at home that I made about 25 years ago. At the time it felt like a frivolous pleasure to spend time making it, but I always liked it. I didn’t fully think of myself as an artist at the time, and I wasn’t taught to think of art as a serious pursuit. It was years before I actually got it out, framed it and hung it up. I’m glad I kept it because it still speaks to me, and it’s a reminder that I’ve always been an artist.
There’s a framed poster-style print of an aerial view painting of Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, that I like for the graphic way it illustrates the town’s landscape and water and for its palette of blues and oranges. It’s by a Provincetown artist named Peter Clemons. There’s another aerial view piece there, too. It’s an abstract painting I did about 6 or 7 years ago, inspired by the views you might see from an airplane window, when the land below looks like it’s divided up into big patches. There are also a couple of album covers from a book of album cover art that we framed. One is “Bird & Diz” and another is “Hot Piano.”
What is your most cherished home accent piece and why?
Probably the large carved wood reclining figure that lives on our bedroom dresser. She lived with my brother- and sister-in-law in California, and moved with them from California to upstate New York. This figure, who I had always thought of simply as “Reclining Lady” always felt very peaceful to me when I would visit them. When they were downsizing to a new home again, I asked whether Reclining Lady was moving with them, and she was offered to me. This happened the same week I learned my mom’s time on the earth was very soon coming to an end. As I left with “Reclining Lady,” my sister-in-law told me it was actually not a reclining woman, but the dying Buddha. Soon after bringing it home, I went to be with my mom as she passed away. The dying Buddha still gives me a peaceful feeling and I keep one of my mom’s necklaces around its neck.
If you had a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
For decades now, I’ve had this memory of being in a wave-generating pool at some water theme park. If you took away the surrounding theme park and just let me body surf across a big wave pool all day, I’d go to bed really happy that night.
That sounds wonderful! Describe one thing not many people know about you.
When I see a movie, I always stay to watch the credits all the way through.
We like that! It’s a honor to those who created the film. What would we find if we looked in your refrigerator right now?
1) Good quality dark chocolate
2) Bags of fresh produce for juicing (carrots, celery, beets, red cabbage, ginger)
3) A delicious thin sliced German whole grain rye bread
4) Cage free certified humane organic eggs
5) A pot of leftover sautéed eggplant (from my garden) in a Jalfrezi sauce over quinoa
Yum! We’ll go ahead and invite ourselves over for dinner. Tell us an interesting/fun fact you recently learned about anything in particular.
People not only have unique fingerprints, but also a unique tongue print.
What?! That’s crazy awesome. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional…with whom would that be?
British artist Andrew Goldsworthy, who works outdoors making art from nature, knowing it will only last as long as the elements allow it to.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
I’d like to say Spain because I appreciate the food and culture, but I’m not sure I’m ready to live with a different language, so I’m going to say San Francisco. It’s similar to Boston in a lot of ways, but less humid and without the snow. And obviously, it’s just a beautiful setting, and one I would enjoy walking all over and taking in from every vantage point possible.
5 things you can’t live without?
My cats Sammy and Tippi
Real unprocessed food
Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
Part of the joy of being an artist is the evolution of the creative force that takes place in you, and that evolution is an ongoing mystery. If you’re open to that, then you don’t really know where you’re going until it unfolds bit by bit in front of you. That said, if you ask where I see my art business in 5 years, I see myself getting involved in some unusual creative commission projects. I’ve been doing commissioned pet portraits for about five years now, but I’d like to get some interesting architecture and cityscape inspired projects. Now that I have a studio in a building that is open to the public, I get to interact with people who are seeing my work. I see that as a positive development, and one that is bound to bring some new opportunities.
Great answer! You can invite 6 people (anybody! Living or dead) to a dinner party. Who made the list and why?
1) The filmmaker Wes Anderson. He tells stories with such visual acuity, tenderness and wit that I imagine I’d enjoy chatting with him.
2) Temple Grandin, the author of “Animals in Translation” and an animal welfare activist and doctor of animal science. I see her as a pioneer in getting people to understand animal behavior and to see animals as sentient beings deserving of respect and kindness.
3) Wile E. Coyote. I want to ask him why he never gives up.
4) Emmy Lou Packard (1914-1988), an artist who made some of the most beautiful and detailed block prints I have ever seen. In her youth she studied under Diego Rivera in Mexico, and in her elder years she was instrumental in establishing the Mendocino Headlands as a National Park, protecting the shoreline from being built upon so that all could enjoy it.
5) Songwriter/singer Paul Simon. You can’t have enough fine storytellers at a dinner party, and a good turn of phrase is so delicious.
6) John Cleese because I’m sure he’d make me laugh.
Those are such great picks! What is one of your favorite quotes?
From the poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were rooms yet to enter or books written in a foreign language. Don’t dig for answers that can’t be given you yet: you live them now. For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.”
(From “Letters to a Young Poet”)
Why do you love DENY?
I think DENY Designs has worked hard, and consistently, from the beginning to get exposure and to develop quality home products. When their pool of artist talent started to grow early on, I thought it was a great, reassuring move when they brought an artist liaison on board. As a DENY artist, if there’s a question or concern about anything, I can trust that the lines of communication are there.
Thank you, Paula! We loved getting to know you and get a peek inside your creative mind. We’re so happy you’re a part of the DENY Artist Family!