Camille Waldorf is an Artist that I’ve know and been dear friends with for more than 18 years. She is one of those people that can consistently make me laugh and also blow me away with how talented she is. A few years ago I visited her place in Beachwood Canyon and there were paintings everywhere, in fact I had to step over art supplies and paintings just to get around. When I left her place, I asked myself why my apartment wasn’t like hers? Why wasn’t I surrounded by my art? So, because of her and her talent and that inspirational visit, I found myself painting more and surrounding myself with more of my art. Now my place is a mess! Thanks, Camille!! Well, after all of these years I finally got a chance to ask her some questions about her art and music and the struggles that she has endured as a female Artist.
Let’s start at the most logical place to start, the beginning. When did you first pick up a paint brush or crayon, or anything and realize that you were meant to be an Artist? When? Where? How old were you? Why did it stick with you?
I was drawing and using color crayons and paint as soon as I could use them around 2-3. I first picked up a paint brush around 4 and my mother enrolled me in art class at the age of four in Santa Cruz California. I knew I was a artiest at birth its something I remember as my first feelings as a baby. As I got old enough to draw and paint at two and three years old I always felt that the impression of the beauty of life, people, animals, nature was so powerful that I had to paint it. I had to time stamp what I was experiencing with the expression of returning to the world what it gave me. I grew up in the Sant Cruz mountains so nature was my teacher in my environment daily. Painting and all my art forms like music, dance, theater. I attached to each one and began to study at 3-4 years old. Music was the sound to the visual world I day dreamt in, and then I could put my emotions and movement to the experience.
As a woman in the Art world, your experiences must be a lot more trying to say the least. Generally women have not been as respected as men and that is changing, hopefully, but can you tell me about some of the bullshit you’ve had to deal with?
Wow, where to begin! Thank god I am a strong Aries woman who takes no crap.
First of all Id like to explain I am not a prostitute I am a spiritual being who creates art from a connection to the earth and ones higher power. Working with the last New York gallery I was sexually harassed by the gallery owner and then released from my contract for speaking up about it. Obviously I wasn’t intending to stay with that gallery after the incident. I flew out there twice and shipped my paintings on my dime and to have them returned after the incident. Believing in galleries and what a person says there going to do is a real challenge. I can’t control that or another person but I am really exhausted dealing with finding out these days. The gallery owner I worked with in NY said, “Someone asked me why I am representing your work and wanted to know if we were fucking”? Well as an artiest and someone who just paid for all my shipping I would think speaking to me or repeating that to me would be of better judgment unless your fishing for a different answer other then Im out to watch what you say to a professional working as a perfessional. Its sad because I paid 4,000 shipping my work to NY and believing what this person said about my work. “That I was talented, and they wanted to represent me and get my carrier going”. Sounds like a dream right? Yeah right!
How gallery owners expect artist to have all this money when most of us are broke and need money for the products were creating is beyond me. I have had some great shows and most of those were with women and woman running those galleries. In life you just have to keep going and keep finding those who will support you and your work. I don’t know how to answer this question as I haven’t found the support as a woman or an Artist from my community yet. I’ve been stolen from more than I’ve sold. I am now doing my own online gallery at camillewaldorf.com , so you can buy from me directly. No middle people any more.
Even my last show in LA I had my Jimi Hendrix painting stolen at the LA Fashion week show. Not only did the gallery owner not help me in any way find or get the painting back, but he went to the insurance company with my police report and pocketed all the money. Telling me that there was no money and the insurance company would not help us. I did my own investigation and found all of this out about what he did. I only got half of the money owned to me, as though he had made a sale.
How would you describe your style of painting? Are you a figurative Artist, is that your main interest, painting people? Why?
I use as many technics in my painting process as I can.I studied each one of these technics for ten years in school Abstract: Impressionistic, realism, surrealism, cubism, photorealism, animation
My style of painting is many layers of technics that I am mixing together with the subject I am choosing to paint. I like painting other people and other Artists. I love seeing a person emotionally fragile expressing something so pure and delicate. I like experiencing a persons soul and honoring that in an image, and I also love to capture the movement you see in dance and music. I do mostly paint people, but I like to do abstract work as well.
In addition to painting, you have a kick ass band and you’re the Lead Singer. How long have you been singing and who and what influences you in that area?
Yes my band’s name is the By By’s. I currently have two new band players, a drummer named Jesse Hudson who is also the love of my life and new bass player, we will be trying out next week. I wrote and composed all of the songs and then worked them out with a few older musicians to push the songs. Now its time to get the sound of the band to its best. I have been singing all my life, since I was a kid in choir, and I had a vocal coach over at MI Institute in Los Angeles. I feel like you can know how to sing but having the courage to express how you feel to the words is something that happens in the timing of life and in the process. I am enjoying that in this phase and I am super grateful to be doing multiple projects. I am also singing over some tracks with Mark London and his producer. I am really excited about that project because I get to lay some my favorite songs over a entirely new sound. (Camille goes by Miss Queen Astoria on Youtube/Vimeo)
Do you have any art or music shows coming up?
I am recording at the moment with my new band mates and with the DJ electronic music. I will be hitting the music festival scene, which will be new for me with EDM, and DJ music.
The By By’s as a band will never stop and as we reform we will be playing a show very soon. I’m still on the festival circuit for a film I acted in called “Scumbag”. In that film I play a supporting lead and I sing a song I wrote and composed in film called “Delicate Boy”.
Some of your work reminds me of Dali. Is his work a big influence? What Contemporary Artists do you admire the most and who would you most like to collaborate with in either painting or musically?
Thank you for that is a grate compliment. I do love his work but would not attempt ever to be recreating another artist technic or style although we all can’t help be influenced by or opened by the greats.
I love to go out there into a world of my own and let something I don’t know step in and show me what I couldn’t think of if I tried. I love Francis Bacon and I think he would have made incredible sound music as well. Just the thought of making music with him is a fun thought. I didn’t look at any art for as long as I could, and I did my first one hundred paintings before willingly looking or studying others work. I was in college at 13 studying and it wasn’t until going to the Art Institute in San Fransisco that a teacher finally broke me of it.
This is the hard question, but if you had to give up either the music or the painting, which would it be?
After having a back surgery and not able to do much for 6 years and still living with chronic pain. I can’t imagine ever wanting to give up on anything any more! I only have fight in me. To give up anything would mean the entire bag of life. I combine the paintings as music covers. The ‘Delicate Boy’ song I wrote and composed is the cover as I also painted the back drops and props for the video I produced for the song. Hmm… It is a hard question. I could never give up either because I see what I hear and hear what I see the two art forms have been serving in relationship to one another to create either one. Painting is very toxic and I have suffered health problems in the past so for health reasons I don’t paint all the time. If it became a health problem maybe even then I’d paint until I dropped. It really would not be a quality of life for me just doing only one. But if my hands and arms go I could still sing, lol. I know that I’m saying a lot without answering exactly the question, but I am stubborn I don’t want to think I ever will have to make that choice in this life.