Thursday, September 11, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Pera Schillings

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Pera's painting, "Egg and Lace" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Pera's DPW Gallery page:

Artist Pera obtained an MA in Graphic Design and an MA in Photography in Aachen, Germany, before immigrating to South Africa. She worked as a graphic designer with architects, as an art director in the film industry and later as an interior designer for many years. In 2005, she started to paint in oil, experiencing intense pleasure and joy from playing with color. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Strangely enough, I just heeded the call from my inner artist, bought oil paints, brushes and canvasses, and off I went. The year was 2005 and I haven’t stopped since. As a novice to the medium, I was bold and naïve enough to follow my heart. I took photos of flowers and painted them close up and oversized: floral portraits.

I was blessed with some excellent teachers from the Stellenbosch Atelier and also with early business opportunities to sell my work in an artist run gallery with lots of overseas visitors.

One of those customers commissioned me to paint vegetables for their kitchen, I did some research via the net and discovered Daily Paintworks. The rest is history.

Egg and Lace
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Pera's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

No, I found my calling (a great surprise to me, since photography was always my first love and forte.)

What mediums and genre have you experimented with?

In the early years at art school, I experimented with water colour, pastels, pen and ink, pencil and charcoal, but never oil.

Two Persimmons
(click to see original image)

Which ones have “stuck” and which ones have fallen away?

Pencil and pen and ink. I love a good, old intricate line drawing with a pencil!

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Both as well as joining the urban sketchers movement.

Who or what inspires you most?

The strong light here in South Africa, the people with their love for bold colours, graphic patterns and the diversity of cultures, landscapes, fauna and flora.

Orange II
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Sometimes fear of a new project lets me dwindle time away, luckily it doesn’t happen often.

What techniques work to insure that you make time for your art?

I do everything else first thing in the morning to clear myself of any lingering “to do’s.” That includes emails, marketing and life itself.

I paint from 12.00 to 18.00h straight, Mondays through Fridays, and weekends when I have a deadline.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

By observation, I like to look at everything.

For Things to Come
(click to see original image)

How do you keep your art “fresh?” What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep you work vibrant and engaging?

Feeding the “Well” with images from books, fashion, movies, music, history, other artists and the world around me!

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Improving my skills on all levels. Edges.

Heavenly Chocolate II
(click to see original image)

What makes you happy about your art?

Feeling blessed to be able to follow my true vocation and to give people joy and pleasure with my paintings!

Thanks, Pera!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Elena Lunetskaya

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Elena's painting, "Rainy City" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have been drawing since childhood. When I was three years old, I wanted to write a letter to my grandmother. I did not know how to write, and decided to draw it. I drew a story, painted with gouache, then found an envelope, took my mother's sewing kit and began to sew. As I didn't know how to end the stitch, when the thread ended, the needle remained hanging outside. As a result, on the letter hung about fifteen needles. It was my first art object. My mom kept it in a box for a long time, and often pulled it out, scaring guests.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

There was a time, after the completion of training at the institute, I worked as a designer in an advertising agency, then as an illustrator in publishing. Then my son was born. Continuing a career in the office was difficult and I again took up painting.

Rainy City
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Elena's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I experimented a lot. When I was younger, I even drew comics and won a prize at the international competition. Quite a long time ago, I did decorative compositions in mixed media (and I still do this sometimes). Oil gives more options, nothing is better for painting that has been invented.

I also attended the Russian school of painting, a very conservative school. It is absolutely authoritarian. Our artistic education is offered through great schools, but no one teaches students how to creatively apply their skills. Usually, well-educated Russian artists do not have stylistic diversity. They are always wanting to do everything correctly, but can't explain why. Some understand it later, and someone - never.

My husband is an ethnic Georgian who studied in Batumi, Georgia - a small Caucasian country with a strong identity. They teach very little of the classical school of thought, but there is a distinctive national artistic style. I can always recognize works by Georgian artists, they are difficult to miss. So now, we have each other to retrain. I gradually forget about what I was taught in St. Petersburg and my husband learns my northern style. Sometimes we work together.

Strawberry Fields
(click to see original image)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Comics have stuck. :). As for the rest - everything is up in the air, nothing can be sure. Maybe soon I will again work as a book illustrator. Everything is constantly changing. I think my author's style has not yet formed completely. I am slowly but surely forgetting what I was taught and teaching myself to live.

Who or what inspires you most?

Oddly, I love art from the early 20th century. I love the great mystics - Mikhail Vrubel, and Philip Malyavina. They both have a unique power (though perhaps blasphemous to compare them). And Pavel Filonov literally grows his paintings from animal or plant cells. They are scattered on atoms, separate worlds. When creating them, he does not think about anybody - just about collecting his painting, like legos, listing everything that comes to mind, collecting the smallest particles. You watch them, you raise them in his head, watching them rise and wilt.

What else inspires me: I like to read a collection of essays by Alexander Jakimowicz "Magic Universe" - inspired works of art as a struggle against the absurdity in our worlds. And, of course, Jorge Luis Borges. Wise man, who established the guidelines of the infinite chaos of modern culture.

And anything can inspire. In my youth I was familiar with an artist (he was quite successful, some of his works were purchased by a Russian museum). I came to him once as he was hanging on the wall a blank white canvas. And on it - an orange spot. He says to me, "I cannot tear myself away - what a beautiful orange spot. For a week I look at it, there's nothing more I can do. Why should I paint now, if I can't make anything more beautiful than this orange spot? I just sit on and look, I need nothing more. "And then he sold the apartment and went to Donetsk. To this day, I still remember it.

Pink Orchids
(click to see original image)

No matter what the source of inspiration is, the most important this is, ultimately, productivity: to not to get stuck and not go crazy. My small personal nightmare is to lose myself in the orange spot and never be able to create again.

Only you can inspire yourself. You wake up in the morning - there you are, and that's a reason for inspiration. This is something that can not be changed. Previously, the artist has been an integral part of their environment. He went somewhere and talked with colleagues and critics. Now, there you are online, you can see everything at once, and no one can digest all of that information. Now, I'm in Russia, St. Petersburg and am writing you this interview. Someone from Australia will see my pictures. Here you have the Library of Babel, and Borges would never have dreamt of this.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination - no such thing. But a week doing nothing - it's scary. Idleness breeds demons. Scariest is not procrastination itself, but that it creates apathy and laziness, and then is replaced with a fatal belief in the impossibility to change anything.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I teach painting classes as a profession - making time for art is not an issue.

Along the Coast
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I do not have constant ideas or have continuously experienced subjects. Although perhaps ideas come spontaneously - you can see something, then remember something. Daily work of life, travel on trains, types of villages and roads, all of it gives me ideas. It is probably not so much an idea, but a way to express a certain state. I love the story of Agatha Christie, who is asked where she takes subjects for her works. She replied, "I come up with them while washing dishes. When I wash the dishes, I always think about murder."

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

This is an interesting question. Ultimately, any creativity powered internal dissonance, it is also its consequence and cause. In fact, private madness is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Thank God, this is not about me. In fact, the variability of perception is a feature of any normal person.

The Dandelions
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Contemporary art and life in general, are both a deeply creative process. We choke, not only in the stifling of passions, but also in the information chaos. There is so much information and the brain is small. It's hard to remember, and even more difficult to organize and catch trends. One of my dreams is to cut off the excess, leaving only the essentials. I would like to know that my actions will have real meaning, and not just to me.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I would like it if someone, upon getting one of my paintings, took a long look at it as my friend did on the orange spot. For a whole week they would do this - as a continuation of the absurd. And they would see what I see and feel. But this is impossible, and the glory of God. You can not change other people's worlds, imposing your own. Therefore, I would be happy if someone received one of my paintings and was just happy to have it. :) Just because it's cute and cool and it adorns the wall. I'm quite a logical and a nice lady with only the best wishes for all.

Thanks, Elena!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, August 28, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Julie Hill

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Julie's painting, "Red Apples" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Julie's DPW Gallery page:

"My paintings are a reflection of what I see, real or interpreted, the play of color and light.....and the feelings evoked. Enjoy!"

A native Southern Californian, Julie Hill began her art career later in life. After several life changes, in 2004 she picked up a pencil and began drawing. Unbeknownst to her, she had been sitting on a creative gift. She then dared to pick up the elusive paintbrush and tentatively applied colors and water to white paper. Pulled by the desire to capture nature's beauty and precious relationship moments, the once elusive and timidness of watercolor paintings has turned into unabashed exploration of color and shapes; as she calls it "Capturing Life with Brushstrokes". (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I went through a period in my life (around 2004) where I had to redefine myself. That definition unknowingly was “Artist”. Looking back I would now say I was to authenticate myself instead of redefine myself. I had to let surface what was created within. Or in better words, it was time to stop denying what God had designed in me.

Keep in mind; I had a high level and very successful career in academic science with no art desire, background or expertise. Once this “authentication” process started within me, I had this overwhelming need to create. It was frightening not knowing what or how to satisfy this need. So I did what we all were taught to do as a child, I drew something. What flushed out in the following weeks were large pencil drawings with great detail. Everyone I knew, me included, was very confused. “Where did that come from? And how did you do that?”. “I dunno” was all I could answer. But the gift of drawing was only the blueprint. A tool that I had no idea would be a foundation for something greater to come.

A few more weeks went by and the creative hunger continued to grow. It was as if I was the painting, where God had initially sketched “me” on the paper in simple black and white ....but now it was time for color and vibrancy. So I picked up my first paintbrush, dabbed up some pretty colors and mixed them in water and finished what God started in me..... it’s been a crazy blessing, letting this gift come out of me.

Red Apples
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Julie's interview
.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

No stops and starts. My painting career is defined by one thing, am I creating? Yes, this creating (painting) generates revenue via commissions, online or gallery sales, and teaching; sometimes it opens doors to publications and accolades, or leads to great opportunities like this article. But none of those exist if I don’t go to work every day and create. By continually moving forward....things have just come to me, a blessing indeed.

What other mediums have you experimented with?

None. I am a watercolor artist. I often receive comments from other artists expressing their wonder on how I do it, “watercolor is so unforgiving” and “it is the hardest medium”. I guess I see it a bit differently. Watercolor painting forces me to commit to each piece, be okay with loosing control or even failing, accepting the imperfection of its perfection. It is kind of how I hope God feels about me...perfect in my imperfectness.

La Frigiliana, Spain
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

Living life inspires me, that is why I titled my blog “Capturing Life with Brushstrokes”. I want to see the beauty in the ordinary...to make the mundane look full of life. So a shopping trip downtown can turn into a grand urban street scene. I like that.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Painting. That may seem like an odd answer but procrastination is when you do more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. Not many things are more enjoyable to me than painting. That being said, I am really not a procrastinator by nature, nor am I the flip side of that, compulsive. I used to be....but now I just paint.

Butch's Smile
(click to see original image)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I do because I am. It is more of a way of life then a technique. I think we all have, at some point in our lives, tried to be something we are not. I like the saying “You can’t be a bird if you were meant to be a fish”. As I mentioned above I went through a redefining or authentication process. The outcome out of that was “I am an artist”. Once you know you are fish, you can’t really answer the question “What techniques work to make sure you make time to swim?” You just do because you are.

Swaying Lanterns
(click to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Having no fear and staying out of my head. As I became more and more skilled at my craft, I challenged myself in deeper ways but also making sure that I always allow myself to just enjoy the process. I always embrace challenging subjects, or perspectives, or try to find something beautiful to say about something that could be portrayed a bit dull. However, sometimes there are voices in your head can be self-deprecating and negative, especially when you are trying something new or hard....the key is to keep them quiet (or stay out of your head completely). Painting is a joy, always has been always will be....no negativity allowed.

Let's Go
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I am learning the value of giving back. The challenge is that I am a self-taught artist, so I have to learn ways to translate to my students what is instinctive to me. Also, each student is unique and has an individual way of learning, I am challenged to find what is the best way to teach and speak to them so that they can truly explore and enjoy their pathway to their passion.

What makes you happiest about your art?

That I painted it.

Thanks, Julie!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Jodi Manca

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Jodi's painting, "Untitled" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Jodi's DPW Gallery page:

My name is Jodi Manca and I live in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  I am a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration.  I also hold a Masters in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  I have been an educator of the arts for over fifteen years, spending the last 14 years in the Cranston School Department.

Primarily a painter, using mostly oils and acrylics, I adore color!  I consider most of my work to be an exploration of color and its relationship to everything else around it.  I spend a great deal of my time doing commissioned pet portraits and always enjoy painting man's best friend.  I also create in the mediums of collage and silk screening.  I spend my life with my husband Andy and our two dogs Flash and Timmy.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I think my love affair with color began with my first coloring book!  I knew from an early age that art was my passion.  My first real painting class was my sophomore year at RISD, I've been painting ever since!

Untitled
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Jodi's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

There have been times where I have not been as productive as I would have liked; work (I'm a full time art teacher in a public school), personal life, motivation, they sometimes all get in the way.  The past three years I have been very productive, it truly is when I am the happiest!

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Oils, acrylics, tempera, water color, etching, silk screening, collage, and recently oil pastels!

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Oils and acrylics, are always a focus, water color comes and goes, I find the medium intimidating!

Sad
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I really am enjoying the oil pastel exploration right now, and am looking forward to doing some more printing this fall!

Who or what inspires you most?

Sunlight inspires me!  I really love the different effects that are produced during different times of day, seasons, and weather changes.  Also, looking at the work of other artists!  I spent so much time as a student studying artists of the past, now I really love to look at the work of others.  Daily Paint Works is a constant source of inspiration!

Berry
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I can be a terrible procrastinator!  T.V. is a sand trap!  My mind goes numb and nothing else gets done!  My dogs are also a fun source of distraction!

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Commissions help!  When I am on a time line I know I have to plan accordingly.  I usually carve out at least two hours a night, more on the weekends. I just need to remind myself that I am much happier being productive: like a runner feels after a run!

Happy
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I love landscape, so that is usually my initial pull.  I also really love painting dogs, they are most of my commission work.  I have recently started revisiting still life, I like simple.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

For me knowing that I still have so much to learn keeps me engaged!  All I have to do is see a painting that I love and I say "I need to try that!"

Morning Hunt
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Last October, I did a painting a day as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer, during that month I felt like I could see improvement in my work!  It made me realize to stay sharp you have to paint as often as you can, and when possible work with other artists!

What makes you happiest about your art?

The moment when I feel like the subject is alive, it really is magic to me!

Thanks, Jodi!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DPW Spotight Interview: Arena Shawn

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Arena's painting, "Remembering June" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Arena's DPW Gallery page:

Arena Shawn was a science major and obtained a Ph.D. in Physics in 2008 from Purdue University. However, alongside science she has always had a passion for art. After coming to United States for graduate school, Arena took the opportunity to attend many art classes provided by the university, and attended painting workshops around the country with nationally-renowned instructors. Eventually, her calling to art has led her to leave her technical job as an Application Scientist in a scientific instrument company in Silicon Valley. She is currently studying classical drawing and painting methods following the 19th-century French academic lineage in the Golden Gate Atelier in San Francisco. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I was a graduate student majoring in physics in Purdue University, Indiana, and in the midst of my third year of Ph.D. program, my adviser went on a one-year sabbatical abroad. Without having to report my progress in the labs twice every week to him, I had a little more free time on my hands, and as a graduate student I can take most of the undergraduate classes offered by the university for free. I've always wanted to take some art classes, so I thought, "why not taking this opportunity and have some fun?" And I took a watercolor painting class. I had a great teacher and I was hooked ever since.

Remembering June
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Arena's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I played with watercolor, taking classes and workshops for about two years, but never did a painting based on my own reference materials. I did workshop projects and class assignments given by the teachers, and copied works from watercolor artists I love as exercises of techniques, but was always too timid to start a project of my own. Then I graduated and got a job in California. It was a sales engineer job for a small scientific instrument company in the Silicon Valley, and I was busy doing trade shows and installations and instructing in customers, flying all over the country. It was in the midst of the recession and I was under a lot of pressure, and being in hotels three weeks out of every month did not leave much room for painting. So I stopped for a couple of years. Then I took a workshop with Kathleen Alexandar, a very good watercolor painter of large-format tropical flowers and radiant still-lives, and a very enthusiastic teacher. It happened that she was a science major in college too. She encouraged me to take up painting again despite of my busy work schedules, giving me tips of squeezing out a little bit time every day and always have my painting set-ups ready at home, ready to go, even taking small sheets of paper and palettes with me on business trips. I painted my first quarter-sheet watercolor from my own reference materials that year, and gathered my courage to submit it to North West Watercolor Society's international juried exhibition. Not only did it get in, it won the President's award in the show. I will never forget the thrill I felt receiving the letter for the award, and I've never stopped since.

River's End
(click to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have painted mostly in watercolor on my own, doing florals and landscapes, especially little plein-air landscape studies. And I have started a full-time atelier study with a very good oil painter in the classical-realism tradition, doing drawings of portrait, figures and still-lives from life in charcoal for two years. I will start the oil painting part of the program this fall! I've also dabbled in pastels on my own a little bit... But not enough to call it a medium of my own yet.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Watercolor so far is the medium I have work with most, and feel most comfortable with, and I do mostly florals and landscapes. I've tried portrait and animal paintings a couple of times, but for one reason or another, not as much as I'd like. I'd definitely love to do more portraits and figures in the coming years! Also, I am thrilled that I will start to paint in oils starting this fall in the atelier, and I can't wait to do some still life paintings as well as plein-air landscapes in oil soon...

Who or what inspires you most?

A painter near and dear to my heart is Qiang-Huang, a name many in the Daily Paintworks circle are familiar with. I took a workshop with him in early 2010, despite of the fact that I never painted in oil, only in watercolor at that point. I love his works so much that I decided it was worth the cost even if I just go and see the demo when he was teaching in Sacramento, CA. He is a fantastic teacher, and a fellow Ph.D. in physics from China. In the workshop I have learned so much about the aesthetics of painting, but even more importantly, he talked about his plans of leaving his job (a stable, and I'm sure well-paid position as senior engineer) and pursue his life-long dream of being a painter. It has directly inspired me to take the plunge, leaving my job and start my four-year atelier training as a painter in the tradition of classical realism. I would have never been able to get the courage to do it without him, and he will always be my personal hero and inspiration.

Fire Dance
(click to see original image)

In the world of watercolor there are many painters I admire, many have influenced me greatly in terms of techniques, design philosophy and aesthetics, but if I have to list one greatest inspiration, I will say it is Dean Mitchell. Not only is he a great master of watercolor, being able to use it to paint any subject matter of his chosen, he also never stopped experimenting, trying new techniques and new media throughout his entire career, and never stopped growing as a painter despite of all the success he has enjoyed. His paintings are hauntingly beautiful and moving, and technically impeccable while always designed with uttermost care. Never did I see any sloppy passage or a section of a painting that has indicated the painter has lost interest or patience at this point of the painting. Whenever I feel frustrated with a painting and just want to "get it done" because it has lingered in my studio for too long and I just cannot seem to get it right, I always take out my books on Dean Mitchell, and remind myself the high standard a professional painter should hold him/herself to.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Starting new projects (you can always start a new project and the first wet-in-wet washes always look so fresh and promising!) instead of finishing the old ones, especially the ones that probably just need a few touches here or there to get done! Oh, and here's a big one -- working on my own projects instead of those whose deadline is about to reach, and looking up ideas in my photo files -- yes I have terabytes of them :-( and that's always a great place to spend a day or two not painting, just dreaming about new ideas, instead of finishing the old ideas, especially when a painting is not going so well, and I really need to work on it... :-P

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Set a fixed amount of time for painting every day, and clock-time it. In the atelier we do three and half hours in the morning working from casts, and three and half hours in the afternoon working from live models, that's a solid seven hours every day working on one's projects, and although the process we use is a very meticulous and slow one, with each passing day you do see solid progress. This has taught me so much about time management -- which first and foremost is about putting solid time into projects you want to complete. I set the same seven-hour clocks for myself during the weekends, and if I have to get up and do the laundry, I stop the clock. But if at the end of the day, I do not finish my seven hours' worth of work that day, I do not go to bed. I've been able to really squeeze out time for my art since I started counting them by the minutes. It may sound too robotic when first heard about, but I am often surprised as how quickly seven hours get by once I get the whole painting process going!

Fall Over Marsh
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I keep an "inspiration file" on my computer, on my iPad, my iPhone, and in the cloud (Pinterest and flickr clipboards), and if I have 5 minutes spare time any time, I take them out and flip though the beautiful paintings done by artists I greatly admire, or photographs I've taken during my last walk in the garden/hike through the woods. I always get some fresh ideas whenever I do this, and feel so inspired to start new work. My only problem is to find time for all the ideas that has been piled up this way -- I guess I'll never have the time to explore them all since the new ones just keep on coming!

I also take regular painting hikes whenever I have a day to spare -- nothing beats get out and paint in the fresh air, facing the beauty of the great outdoors to get my creative juice flowing!

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I generally keep more than a dozen or more painting projects going in the same time, at different stages of their development. This way, if I feel too burnt out by three days working in meticulous details to finish a piece, I can always switch to a painting at the beginning stage of its development, and do the "care-free" washes wet in wet, and vise versa. I also constants switch working methods -- dark to light, light to dark, glazing, wet-in-wet, painting around, masking and pour, using as many colors as I want, using only a limited palette of three to four colors and mix all the colors I need from them, using only primary colors and mix all my greys, using only earth-tones and sober blues, etc., to challenge myself. I try all kinds of paper and other surfaces -- not always with great success or a painting to take home with, but experimentation always gets me excited and recharged if I feel I am getting into a painting rut.

I also switch between my rigorous atelier work -- drawing from live models and casts using classical sight-size method during the day and my relatively care-free watercolor paintings at night and in the weekends. I find switching between working from life and working from photos, working only in values (black and white with shades of grey in between) and working in vibrant colors very stimulating creatively. They compliment and compensate each other, and always keep me on my toes.

Sugar Swirl
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I am still very new at the whole "being a full time artist" thing, so I am trying to learn as much as I can about everything -- new techniques, new media, new subject matter, and the business side of it all -- how to market, promote and sell your art to "make it" in the art world. There is not a day go by that I don't feel I have learned something new from looking at master artists' work, from going through the daily updates of my favorite artists, and from different art-marketing tips posted by my fellow artists. But first and foremost, I know I am learning the balance between creativity and discipline, product and process, without the former one cannot claim to be an artist, and without latter there is no possibility of being a great one. For me, it means learning to leave enough time everyday for "playing" instead of goal-oriented work, trying out new things and starting new projects knowing a lot of them will fail, but allowing that time and do not feel guilty, counting that time spent as a good investment into myself, into growing as a creative artist. It also mean trying to finish pieces even at times I don't feel like to work on them, to just forge through to meet deadlines and getting things done, even when I am tired or do not feel inspired.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The process of making them. I am just happy most of the days that I get to paint or draw. Thinking about starting a new piece, looking at fresh, wet colors mingling on paper, or a realistic form gradually emerging from a grey mist of charcoal powder always get me so thrilled. It's hard to believe that I can actually do that every day. I feel truly lucky and happy just being able to paint, draw, and create.

Thanks, Arena!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine CruseDPW

Thursday, August 7, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Amy Hillenbrand

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Amy's painting, "Out of the Blue" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Amy's DPW Gallery page:

In a previous life, I lived my life designing corporate offices, restaurants and health care facilities as the owner of a successful commercial Interior and Architectural Design Firm. I wore suits and high heels every day, ouch. Then my life took a turn. I sold the firm, loaded up the car and moved to Beverly Hills. No, not really but, I did move to San Diego - close enough, right? I swapped my suits for flowing skirts and flip-flops, ahh. (click to continue reading)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I only started painting in my early forties. I really never painted before that. I do know in kindergarten all I did was color every single day. I also recall painting two pieces in high school. One watercolor of a nocturne scene of a boatyard and an acrylic of a vase of flowers. I had no idea of what I was doing, but my Mother still framed them and hung them up in our house anyway.

Out of the Blue
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Amy's interview.

Back to my forties... I was recovering from major job/life burnout. I had owned a commercial Interior Design and Architectural firm. I worked fifteen hours per day, seven days and week and most holidays. It took a toll on my life and body. I sold the business after my body said "enough!" and the voice inside me kept saying, "stop the madness." I moved from the Midwest to the West coast. As I was lying in bed trying to regain my health (now be prepared for what I am going to say next, it might sound kind of out there), I heard a voice say softly and clearly two words: oil painting. I hadn’t even asked a question. I was a little startled since oil painting wasn’t something I had ever done nor was it on my radar to do so. I paid attention though, since this voice was different than my normal intuitive voice. I sought out a teacher, a wonderful Australian Artist, Concetta Antico. She really has a gift for teaching. I took classes once a week for about two years. I found my calling and not surprisingly, my health started to rebound at a quicker pace.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Yes, I have. As I shared above, I painted about once a week and some Sundays for two years. My husband and I then moved to Texas in 2006. I did cry when I left my teacher and my wonderful classes in her cute little ocean side studio in La Jolla. I painted in spurts as a hobby while I pursued other career paths. I had been Life Coaching for several years and was wanting to take it up a notch. So in 2009, I flew to Las Vegas to attend a business seminar for Life Coaches. While sitting among one thousand coaches, I began to question if I was doing the right thing; wondering if this was the right path for me.

Three Pair
(click to see original image)

Right then and there, I received an answer. I heard the same voice from 2003. Almost jokingly it answered, “I already answered that question. You are supposed to be an artist.” I came home and started my blog. Art was no longer just a hobby. I was following the Voice. Recently, I also had a couple of months break from painting when my husband and I built a new home in a new city. I now have a beautiful new studio in my home with gorgeous northern light which is a complete joy to work in. I’m a happy camper.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Oil painting is my love. I often hear many artists talk about wanting to try this and that and they can’t wait to try the other. Sometimes I think there must be something wrong with me because I have absolutely no desire for other mediums. I suppose I subscribe to Malcom Gladwell’s theory. He states in his book ‘Outliers’, it takes someone ten thousand hours of practice to master a skill. Besides that, I just like it.

Orchid Ovation
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

Inspiration happens to me in a pop. Typically, when I’m not thinking about art at all. I do have a dialog playing constantly in the background of my mind which sounds like this: What should I paint? How should I paint it? Sometimes this a a conscious conversation I’m having with myself, but most times it is unconscious. It is always running. Then, when I’m doing other things like taking a walk, shopping or even watching TV, I will have a pop - an idea will flash in my mind. I like to make a quick sketch of the idea because it will leave as quickly as it comes. I feel like when I get a quick pop or inspiration it is a ‘God-wink’ and I just happen to catch it. I do get inspired every time I go to an art museum or visit a gallery. Every timeI get this feeling like I can’t wait to get home to paint.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I would have to say I am quite familiar with Procrastination. Really wish I could say it is not the case. I know I’m in procrastination mode when I think cleaning the house is more fun than painting. Once I notice that I’m in resistance to painting, I try to drill down and find out what’s really going on. I have uncovered all kinds of hidden treasures; such as the feeling that I’m not enough. I may slip into that kind of thinking when I start comparing myself to others, whether it is their style or their progress on their path. I’ve learned a) don’t compare myself to others and b) trust everything is unfolding as it should.

I’m beginning to think there is a reason why I have had to suffer with this terrible bug-a-boo. I believe it is because as I disassemble it and conquer it I am to teach others how to move past it in their lives as well. For if I never felt the frustration of its grip, I don’t think I could relate to those who still wrestle with it. For that reason I write about my tales with the big P on my blog. I have come a long way and I do believe that, very soon, it will be something in my past.

Charlie the Boxer
(click to see original image)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

The technique that has helped the most was finding the best time of day to paint. Without thinking too much about it, I started painting in the afternoons around 2-3 o’clock. But then I had this brilliant idea that I should paint in the mornings since I am a morning person. I figured since I function so well in the morning my painting would be even better. Wrong. My brain is too engaged in the morning, too left-brain. I could not settle into the painting and it felt like a struggle.

I went back to doing what I just naturally did in the beginning. After doing my “chores” and emptying my brain out onto a to-do list, I then paint. My body and mind are relaxed and I easily get into the zone. I am also finding the more organized I am in my life and in my studio the more it fosters productivity. When I have a cluttered space or a cluttered mind I feel very unsettled inside my body. It feels like static is playing and I cannot focus. This also helps ward off procrastination which I talked about earlier.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Using the inspiration that arrives to me in a a pop (see above), I set out to reproduce that with my camera. I make a trip to the store to buy the flowers I’m after and then typically they don’t have what I wanted which leads me to bring home something I hadn’t even thought of. As serendipity would have it, the flowers end up being perfect for what I wanted. I spend lots of time “posing” my flower subjects and taking fifty to one hundred photos. I then look at them on the computer at the smallest thumbnail possible. I look to see which ones jump out at me with a strong composition even in their little form. Many times it turns out to be the first picture I took.

Mint Tulep
(click to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I like to to mix things up by sometimes painting larger and then other times painting smaller works. I will also go between the two subjects I mostly do these days, flowers and animals, or as I like to say, critters. I try to paint four to five days a week. I have found I do need my non-painting days to do things with my hubby, friends or other things I enjoy. When I do it seven days a week, it starts to feel un-fun. As I learned a big lesson in my previous life, I need other interests and people to make a balanced happy life. When I do come back from my two day break I feel energized. It is fun again. I trust when I’m having fun, it will radiate through my paintings.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The most rewarding feeling is when someone tells me they actually feel happy or peaceful when they are looking at my work. It is so fulfilling because that is my intention.

Thanks, Amy!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, July 31, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Karen Park

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Karen's painting, "Cinnamon and Apples" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Karen's DPW Gallery page:

I have only been painting in watercolor a short time but have been drawing on and off since a child. Painting in watercolor is such a challenging medium sometimes with a mind of its own. Before one painting is finished I am all ready excited about the next one. I am self taught from studying books, other artists and internet seminars. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have been painting in watercolor for three years now after needing a new hobby to fill my time during which is now a chronic illness. I have been drawing and painting in other mediums off and on since a child and did quite a bit of folk art when it was popular. My watercolor I have learned from books, other artists on video and computer seminars. I like Winsor and Newton paints on 140 lb Arches watercolor paper, preferring to use the transparent colors as much as possible.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Last year, I added pencil crayon painting to my portfolio when I needed a mental break from watercolor painting. I always go back to my favorite genre watercolor. It is such a challenging medium, sometimes having a mind of it's own.

Cinnamon and Apples
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Karen's interview.

Which genres and mediums are you looking forward to exploring?

Next, I would like to learn to paint with a looser style, I try too hard to make the painting match the picture. My love for watercolor will always be first but at some point I hope to give oil painting a try after seeing so many wonderful paintings done in this medium.

Norway Neighborhood
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I take my camera everywhere I go - always looking for the perfect pictures to paint, an old house, run down barns. Neighbors and friends are used to me crawling around their gardens, posing their pets and children. I have a large garden myself, my second love which provides some nice photographs of flowers, birds and little critters for me to study or paint.

Mother's Pride
(click to see original image)

 Who or what inspires you most?

I sometimes get lost for hours going over photographs, researching techniques, and communicating with other artists I have befriended on Daily Paintworks when I need inspiration to start another piece. A lovely piece by another artist can be enough to inspire me not to get frustrated during a slump.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I prefer the realist approach and love to add detail to my work. I pick my photographs with that in mind. Are there good contrasts in tone, detail and shadows? The more a picture interests me the more excited I get to try to paint it. I love to go back and forth between wet on wet, wet on dry and dry on wet.

European Fruit Stand
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I have so much to learn, it is a never ending education of trying new techniques. I now find I pay more attention to everything I see: colors, textures, and shadows - will that make a good painting?

Like other artists, I aspire to make the next painting better than the last and it can be both enjoyable and frustrating at times. The art has taught me patience, relaxation and gives me a sense of excitement in doing something that I enjoy very much, even if not every painting is good, it is about the learning process for me.

Chloe and Keisha
(click to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am very tough on myself wanting perfection which I realize is not what art is all about. I love to see the reactions of people I have painted for or a donation I have made.

Thanks, Karen!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, July 24, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Donna Munsch

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Donna's painting, "Red Apple and Daisies" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Donna's DPW Gallery page:

​I have always loved to paint, especially with oils. My favorite subjects include: flowers, still lifes, landscapes, and animal portraits. I consider my work contemporary and realistic. I am inspired mostly by the world around me. I hope my paintings convey my love for the colors that surrounds us every day.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Like most people, I found out early that I had a talent for the visual arts. What lit the spark for me was a TV show by Jon Gnay and his art kits. If you grew up in the late fifties or sixties, you might have seen one of is shows where he demonstrates how to draw. I got one of his kits and away I went. I had drawings all over the place. After that, teachers noticed and I was encourage to try painting with watercolors and acrylics. It was in college where I tried oil paintings. Immediately, I fell in love with the rich color and consistency of the paint.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I graduated college with an art education degree and taught thirty-two years as an art teacher in Berlin, Wisconsin, so I am not sure you would say I ever really had any stops in my creativity growth. I will admit that teaching took up a lot of my time. I could only work on my personal paintings during the summer breaks. Now that I am retired, I am trying to paint a little every day or most days. I took a couple of online courses with Dan Edmundson to refresh my skills and that is what motivated me to look into selling my paintings online. I highly recommend his courses to anyone who has an interest in learning how to paint. He is an excellent teacher!

Red Apple and Daisies
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Donna's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

During my college days I had a lot of opportunities to explore different visual arts. Art Education degrees require a very broad, general scope of the visual arts and many classes of learning and teaching techniques. I made weavings, puppets, figure sketches, paintings, jewelry, bronze sculpture, etc. Personally, I knew painting would always be my number one art hobby.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Oil painting stuck as you can see. Watercolor and acrylic painting, I haven't done that for years. Maybe in the future; if I find a good teacher I might be tempted to get back into watercolor. I do like the transparency of watercolor.

Pear Kiwi Slices
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Right now, I am trying to learn how to paint faster and use fewer strokes when painting. It is a challenge for me but it helps when working on smaller panels. The fastest I have ever painted a painting was in two days vs. my usual three. I am hoping someday to finish one in a day that I am satisfied with and don't feel a need to go back to it the next day.

Who or what inspires you most?

I am inspired by the beautiful things around me, by the teachers I have known and mostly other artists. When I see a beautiful painting, I want to pick up a brush and join in. When I learn a new technique, I want to try it. When I see a beautiful flower in the sunlight, I want to paint it. When I see master artwork in a museum I want to yell, "ah! How did they do that?!"

Silver Vase Flowers
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I am not a big procrastinator. I am too high strung and nervous for that. It bothers me when I have to stop a painting and step back from it. I can not get it out of my head until I am finished. So maybe I am not a procrastinator, but I do need to put effort into relaxing before I start a painting. My dog Tuck sees to that. Tuck says walk first then paint!

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I use to do errands and housework before painting but then there are days I would never get to the fun part, painting. So now I try to start the day relaxing, painting and then do all the lovely stuff like dishes, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. That seems to work most days.

One Giant Peach Lily
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Getting ideas for paintings can sometimes be a little bit of work. I use photos I have taken, or others have. Paint My Photo website is an excellent resource for ideas. I also paint from still lifes I have created. I do not paint outside. I once did and hope to get back into that when my painting speed picks up and the mosquitos calm down.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I keep my art fresh by changing the subject matter. I like going back and forth between still lifes and landscapes. Landscapes help me to loosen up and focus on depth in a painting. Still lifes help with the basics, drawing and value.

Sliced Tomato in Lucky Dish
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now I am learning so much by selling on this site and etsy. I never shipped overseas before or mailed paintings before, it is quite exciting!

What makes you happiest about your art?

What truly makes me happiest about painting is the doing. I just love the way paint flows from brushes and the way all the beautiful colors mix.

Thanks, Donna!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

Thursday, July 17, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Andre Beaulieu

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Andre's painting, "Summer Cream" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Andre's DPW Gallery page:

Born in Quebec, living in Paris. Doing one painting per day (or there about) since October 1st, 2011.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

When I was a teenager, I painted a reproduction of a Swatch watch on the wall of my bedroom (my parents were thankfully very patient). On canvas, I started making reproductions of logos (like Rolling Stones tongue) and after, I did things like the Perrier and Evian logos in a large format.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Once I started to do paintings, I did perhaps ten canvases over ten years (evenings and weekends) while I worked as a car painter in the body shop at Mercedes and BMW. I started painting full-time in October 2011.
Summer Cream
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Andre's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I started with acrylic, and then moved to oils. I’ve done reproductions, airbrush, street art stencil, and still life, hyperrealist reproductions, and now large-format Parisian cafés. I’ve experimented with some left-handed (non-dominant) paintings as my right handed paintings tend to be very realistic.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Now I’m doing right-handed oil paintings, reproductions of cityscapes, figurative/realist.

Cafe Au Canon des Invalides
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I’d like to improve my technique; since I’m self-taught, there are certainly lots of techniques and methods that I have yet to learn.

Who or what inspires you most?

I’m inspired by Hopper, Rod Penner, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol. And as for things to look at, I’m inspired currently by Parisian cafés within walking distance of my apartment, especially when they have good sunlight and a bit of movement.

Apple Preserves III
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

When I’m stuck on a painting, I’ll often leave it and work on it again the next day. Instead, I’ll take pictures for new paintings, or go buy supplies, or do some designs. I don’t wait more than until the next day to keep get going again.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I work the same hours that I did when I was an employee (9 am to 6 pm). I go to work every day, take the metro, pack a lunch, go to my studio – I approach it as a regular full-time job! The studio is new – I used to paint every day in our living room, and have only been in the studio for about 5 months. Approaching it like it’s my regular full-time job for the past (nearly) 3 years has helped me get representation with a gallery in Paris at Place des Vosges just as of last Friday, so this is really exciting.

And as far as having time, I’ve been lucky in that I have focussed solely on the creation of the art. The management of my website, mailing list, Facebook page, and the communication with the clients has been done (up to now) by my wife. Now that I’ve progressed to having gallery representation, they’ll be doing the sales and marketing work. So me, I get to paint all day long.

Cafe Le Buci
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I paint exclusively from photos, so I first look for good photographs. Now I am taking all of the photos myself, but before I used to also rely on a combination of my own images as well as creative commons images on Flickr (or with permission from other photographers’ works).

To find a Paris café to paint, I wait for a sunny day, head out with my camera, and just walk the streets looking for the right image (there are over seven thousand cafés in Paris apparently!).

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I treat it like a full-time, regular job. I work 5 days a week with weekends off. I take vacations. I’m also happiest now that I’m painting exclusively what I want to (thankfully, also what the gallery wants to represent).

Cassette 60
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now I’m learning how to navigate the system of how gallery representation works, as well as figuring out what will sell and at what size (I’m working up to larger and larger canvases).

What makes you happiest about your art?

When I finish a canvas, the satisfaction it gives me when I’ve done a good job of reproducing the photo, getting the colors right, as well as improving on the photo so that the painting is better than the original image.

Thanks, Andre!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse