Conversations with an Artist: Grace Estrada

Grace Estrada Artist Sonoma County
We discovered Grace when we visited Scout West County, the lifestyle general store in Sebastapol that she had owned until recently with her illustrator/artist husband Oliver and named after their Samoyed. Their curation featured the kinds of objects, art and clothing we also appreciate. We loved the art hanging on the walls and so happy to learn it was Grace's paintings and ink drwings. We're excited to bring a capsule collection of her framed originals, painting reproductions and block prints to the shop. Her self-described "out there" art is narrative driven and quirky in all the best ways. 

8 Questions

Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I think for me it's more I realize the absence of something that makes me feel good when I’m not doing it. An example would be I’ll stop making things for a while and something feels off or not right in the world. Something big and deep. And it takes me a minute to realize, oh yes, I’m not making anything!

Grace Estrada_painting_weird dog_and_cat

I first noticed this when I graduated college and there would be periods of time I wouldn’t create at all, and then suddenly I’d realize something was missing and I would paint for a few weeks and make an entire body of work. It’s like the floodgates would open…. and then eventually close. It’s been this strange relationship. This is how it’s been for years. Recently the floodgates have closed…. maybe they’ll open back up soon. 

What themes do you pursue in your art?
Memory, nostalgia, portraiture, loss, bizarre narratives that make sense sometimes. 
Grace Estrada_painting_felipe on rug

Tell us about what influences the direction for your artworks.
Hard question! Usually something I can’t stop thinking about, or a thing or person that runs through my brain, or I’m in love with a color– eventually I have to get it down on paper and see where it goes. 

How has your work developed over time?
I’ve been exploring color for the last several years. There was a long stretch of time I solely did black and white ink drawings, and over the last several years I feel a freedom to just …… mix and let things play and be with each other. This is different and has evolved. I think in so many ways I thought I knew who I was as an artist but at this juncture of my life I feel I have not a clue where I want to go or what direction I should choose. Grace Estrada_painting_Betty Boop_Girl and Guy

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
My gouache! Even when I forget to put the lid back on and it’s dried up and sad.

Do you collect anything?
Yes. Have you heard of Kewpie? The Rosie O’Neil cartoon and character from the 20’s? Well, let’s say I have many, many-a Kewpie. I have a vast collection of strange antique toys which occasionally appear in my older work. I’ve recently stopped collecting because I have run out of room. 

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
To Kill a Mockingbird. It occurred to me during COVID shelter in place that I had time unlike I’ve ever had time and I was able to reflect that I was very absent during most of my education throughout my entire life– and therefore did not actually retain any of the curriculum. I decided to go back and actually read some things because I was very (very) present in a different way. 

What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Don’t listen to that arrogant art school teacher who told you you’re not a painter. Paint anyway. 
Grace Estrada_Painting_Black and white cat


We love how unique Grace's point of view is, as expressed in her art. In many ways, it celebrates layered aspects that form our identities, our differences, our emotional response to the world around us. Buy Grace's artwork in our shop here.

It's good to be different,
Bonnie & Jeffrey

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