TribeLA Magazine Acrostic Interview with Dr. Synthia SAINT JAMES
Tagline: Give yourself and your work a tagline.
“The Creative World of Synthia SAINT JAMES” — I’ve used this description for many years because of the variety of my creative work and endeavors, such as in the visual arts I am a painter, architectural designer (ceramic tile designs for the Ontario International Baggage Claim, Ontario, CA, and Cowan Elementary School, Westchester, CA, stained glass window designs for the West Tampa Library, Tampa, FL, elevator door designs for a government building in the East End Complex adjacent to the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA, and mural designs for two affordable living complexes – all of which was fabricated by other artists who specialized in each medium.), and illustrator of children’s picture books. I’m an author (writer) of children’s books, poetry and prose, lyrics for songs (songwriter), affirmation books, a cookbook, and an autobiographical art marketing book. I have a background in the performing arts, primarily in the mid-late 1970’s, that included a couple of films and television (a national McDonald’s commercial as the spokesperson). I’m an art educator and artist-in-residence, who works nationally with colleges and universities lecturing, teaching master classes and facilitating various workshops.
Rest: How do you spend your time off?
1. International travel, which has included countries in Europe and South America, but with a major focus on the tropical islands of the Caribbean, Tahiti and Fiji. 2. Reading all kinds of books. 3. Dancing at home to rhythmic music, my form of relaxing right after a wonderFULL day of painting. 4. Watching classic films, Bette Davis features and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot murder mysteries.
Influence: What effect do you hope to have on us?
My hope is to uplift, educate and to bring joy and serenity to my audience through my paintings.
Back: If you could choose a past literary/art/music movement to be a part of, which would you choose?
Definitely the French Impressionists. My favorite all-time film is the first Moulin Rouge, starring Jose Ferrer and released in 1952. It inspired my artistic goals on many levels, including making a living as an artist during my lifetime.
Energy: What fires you up?Dawn to early morning brisk nature walks, in a park or on the beach, where I release any built up tensions while repeating my prayers and affirmations aloud softly.
Los Angeles: Where is your favorite place in Los Angeles?
That’s a hard question because I have many. So I’ll choose the Pacific Coast Highway and the beaches between Marina del Rey and Zuma. Where would you take visitors? On a scenic drive beginning in Hollywood, then to Gladstone’s Seafood Restaurant via Sunset Blvd. If you could defend the city in one sentence to someone who doubts it, what would you say? The City of Angels, the entertainment capital of the world, filled with beautiful palm trees and magnificent beaches, valleys, deserts and mountains, creatively energetic but laid back.
Advice: What is the best advice you’ve received? What is the best advice you can give?
“Make a place for your art.” In 1980, I attended an informal lecture by Ernie Barnes where he emphasized the importance of being proactive. That was the best advice I’d ever heard and I continue to encourage my students and other artists to take control of their careers. I also teach a workshop on “The Business of Art” and recommend my book, Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing, for some helpful tips and creative affirmations.
Aura: How would you describe your energy, style, etc.?
I’ve been told that I have a golden and magnetic aura, and love that description which I hope to always live up to. I think of myself as a 68 year old petite woman with the heart and energy of a child. I’m always open and love to embrace new ideas, and creative challenges. My idea of dressing up, or as I call it my typical “exhibit wear”, is made up of one of my many Asian tops or jackets, some slacks and a pair of my “dressy” gold or silver metallic sneakers.
Room: Where in your home do you work? If not in your home, where do you feel most compelled to create?
I live in an old Spanish duplex and I converted the back bedroom to my studio when I moved in over twenty years ago. One of the great things about the room is that it looks out onto a sun porch and a back yard filled with trees, plants, birds and butterflies, which makes my studio feel like a large creative oasis.
Tools: What do you prefer to work with, physically and otherwise?
My paint brushes range in size from a 0/20 to a 2 brush, and my mediums are acrylic and oil paints. If it’s a small painting I’ll create it on my drawing table, but generally I use my easel.
Indulgence: What is your favorite indulgence?
A nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc after painting or writing to celebrate the day. Do you cook? Yes, but not as much as I use to. My first cookbook that was published in 1998, which I revised and self-published in 2016. It’s titled Creative Fixings From The Kitchen: Multi-Cultural Delights and can be purchased on Amazon.com. What is your specialty meal? A big pot of “Shrimp, Chicken & Vegetable Curry” with a side of Streamed Rice and Chutney. What is your favorite restaurant in LA where you indulge yourself? ALL-TIME Favorite: The Palace Restaurant for 25 years. The BEST Chinese Restaurant in Los Angeles!!! It was located in Los Feliz on Hillhurst Avenue but is now located on Central Avenue in Glendale.
Special: Who or what holds a special place in your heart? How does this factor into your creative process?
First and foremost my mother Hattie, who is now 90 years old. My champion and wind beneath my wings!!! How does this factor into your creative process? I was EXTREMELY fortunate to have had someone who always had my back, and who always encouraged me, since early childhood, to pursue my dream/s. She taught me to “Keep On Pushing” to GO FOR IT…and I still do so on many creative and personal levels.
Time: What is your all-time favorite piece of writing/art/music you’ve created?
A hard call…they’re ALL “My Babies”. 1. Book: Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing” – which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award 2012 – Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional. 2. Song: “Happy Happy Kwanzaa” – Co-wrote – Received a NAPPA Gold Award – National Parenting Publication Award. 3. Painting: “Slumber”
Synthia SAINT JAMES.