Artist Interviews 2023

Sima Joe Benson  
By Julia Siedenburg

Sima Joe Benson’s enchanting artwork with its realistic imagery is very soothing to look at. In her enchanting pieces this local LA artist mostly focuses on landscapes and women.

What specifically drew me to her work were the portraits of swimmers. These women float effortlessly in the water; their body language and expressions possessing both emotion and mysticism.

Being able to see these magnificent artworks in person and meeting Sima was such a delight and I instantly knew that I wanted to have her as part of this issue, so you can enjoy her work as much as I did, dear reader. And I hope you will enjoy this interview just the same.

You describe yourself as an artist that focuses on creating impressionistic oil paintings. What drew you to that genre of art?

To be honest, I never had a true interest in the genre. It’s just something people used to describe my work. I’m not going to argue with it. But after looking up the definition I guess I can see it.

It is so impressive that the majority of your work is painted without a photo reference.Could you please run us through your process? What are your first steps once you get an idea for a piece and how long does it take to finish it?

I usually do not have a clear image come to mind when it comes to painting a concept. At the rare times that I do, I reach out to friends that will pose for me to match the vision that I have. Most of my work is started in my studio with little to no direction as far as what the painting will end up looking like. This process of creating starts off with a fast scrub, i'll make big shapes that move my eye around the canvas well. The bigger shapes will then morph into more specific things, like an arm or a hand, a face, etc. After I decide what is what, I'll start defining more so that people can tell what it is that I’m painting at first glance. The making of a painting could take two days, or it could take two years. Just depends on where I’m at mentally.

Your paintings are so realistic. Especially the bodies of your subjects which are shown in such calm intimate moments. Could you please share a bit more about the emotional moments and relationships shown in your work?

It’s subconscious, all the content of my work. I rarely will attempt to manipulate a scene to provoke a certain thought or emotions. I more so just get lost in the painting process, and oftentimes the content I end up with is about people in love, in intimacy, maybe experiencing closeness or even feeling agony or pain. I guess that's where my head goes naturally.

The ocean is a repeating theme in your work and you do a beautiful job in capturing the reflection and movement of the water. What does the ocean mean to you?

Thank you! The ocean is healing for me, It’s the most peaceful escape I have. Anytime I’m after having a good day or trying to feel better after having a rough one, the ocean is my go to. I believe that’s why it shows up in my work so much. People have also told me I’m a water sign so maybe that has something to do with it as well, who knows.

In regards to our September issue theme “ Storytelling”, how would you describe a good storyteller?

A painting is worth a thousand words, and in the right order make up a few different stories, right. I like to think if a story teller gives you too much information, people lose interest.

You are an exceptional local LA artist! Would you say that having constant access to art, film, and music-related activities is something that inspires and motivates you or is it rather the opposite?

It’s overwhelming having that type of access, being saturated by the culture. I can sometimes feel my own inadequacy or think to myself, “It’s been done”. I prefer to hang out but not hang on.

Please tell us a bit about your childhood and upbringing.

I grew up in Thousand Oaks. My momma and pops are together today, still living in the same home I grew up in. We had a great situation, my older brother and I. Lots of friends and family around, tons of family dinners and trips to the beach. I was raised by a mother who designed products and a father who was a carpenter, so I was constantly in the realm of creating. They taught me about having good morals, how to work hard and stay consistent, and what having fun looked like. I blame the success of my artistic endeavors on the way I was brought up. Childhood and my parents were good to me!

Many artists change their style when they move to a different place, become a parent, or have other new experiences in their lives.

Being a young mother, do you feel like your style is changing or maybe will change in the future? Of course it will change, and has already changed since her birth. She’s only eleven months old now, and has influenced my art in a significant way. Maybe not so much style wise, but I know my concepts have changed. Things have become lighter since her being here. I plan on showing my little girl how I view things. Art is truth and as of right now I can’t describe it to her any other way. She motivates me to be as authentic as I can.

You are not only a very talented painter but also a tattoo artist. Please tell us how that started and why you enjoy it.

Griff, one of my best friends, gifted me a tattoo machine during covid when we were bored at home. Told me I was to tattoo him and all our friends haha. It started off as a hobby and turned into a career. It became an extension of my sketchbook. Being a painter means that oftentimes you are alone, but tattooing has opened the door to connection again. I get to work with people and talk with them for hours. It really is sweet. I also love being able to turn concepts that didn’t make it to the canvas into flash for my clients. It’s been true love ever since I started some three odd years ago.

What is next? What are your plans for the future?

I hope I may never know. I really respect certain artists and would love to work with them. Maybe murals too, I would love to paint at a larger scale, and to make art for the public.

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