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Director Rosanna Peng makes the most gorgeous visuals — honestly, her lighting and graceful camerawork creates a literal dream sequence on film. Recently, in a pause from creating moving images for the likes of Nike, Urban Decay, and Hypebae, she’s finding beauty in things that are still. From her Los Angeles home, she talks about homing her rediscovered love of painting, launching a weekly still life class on Zoom (seriously, got to her Instagram and check it out every Friday), and how an unexpected slowdown forces you to be really, truly present.

How has your quarantine been? 

The initial shock has worn off and I’m trying to make the best of it. I try to remind myself of the privilege I have to be able to find new hobbies during this time.

How have you been staying sane?

I’ve been taking classes, reading, running and painting. There’s actually a lot to work on if  you search for it.

We love the weekly figure drawing classes you’ve been doing. How did that come about, and what has the response been?

The response has been amazing! Many people have said it’s been the most fun they’ve had during lockdown. The idea came up because I had always wanted to check out a figure drawing class, but never had the time. I figured I’d try organizing a weekly class to stay creative, but make it a safe environment for beginners and professionals to try. I love seeing the different techniques that people have. It reminds me that even though we’re all looking at the same model, each of us sees things differently and that’s beautiful.

You’ve also taken up painting — is this something new for you? How are you adjusting to it in quarantine?

I sketched and painted a lot in high school, but stopped when I started making and working in film. Earlier this year, I had a craving to slow down and work with my hands again so I enrolled in a painting class at the Pasadena ArtCenter. When I’m working on a painting, I lose track of time and am fully concentrated on the piece. This is mainly because I feel rusty and don’t want the piece to end up like trash, but I’ve also realized that there are no right answers to art. It’s been pretty therapeutic.

You usually deal with moving images in your work. Is there something soothing about switching to a different visual medium? How has it been helping your sanity?

I don’t think I realized how fast I was going in life and work until I fully stopped. It’s been very healing to slow down and work with my hands again. Painting gives me the freedom to redefine my M.O. as an artist.

What has been keeping you professionally busy in quarantine? 

I’ve been taking a lot of classes online — I’m currently on David Fincher’s Masterclass. I’ve also been catching up on old films that I’ve missed so I consider this period a time that I can soak up new references and teachings for my film work.

Everyone’s priorities in life seem to be shifting lately. Have you had any like-minded aha moments when it comes to your work and life?

Definitely. I catch myself missing my ‘normal’ day-to-day life, but looking back it really wasn’t ‘normal’ — rushing meals and tasks while not being present with people and places. I think my biggest priority shift is recognizing the things I care about the most, but more importantly, acting on it. 

Has your routine or rhythm changed?

I start slow — make coffee and read. Then I fit in a run (I’m trying to run 100 miles this month). I freestyle the rest of the day, but so long as I knock out the first 2 things, I feel a bit more productive about myself.



photos / Maria Jose Govea

story / Tiyana Grulovic

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