Thursday, March 28, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Mike Etie

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

To enter to win Mike's painting, "El Capitan West Texas," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From Mike's DPW Gallery page:
I have been painting seriously since 1996. I live in Austin and have my studio and gallery there. It is a beautiful studio with skylight and track lighting which gives me plenty of natural or artificial light as I need to paint. I work primarily in pastels and occasionally oil. My subjects are primarily landscapes from many trips to the Texas hill country and the mountains of New Mexico. I love to be in the Santa Fe area where the light is pure and scenery is spectacular.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have always enjoyed drawing and fooling around with color. Not until 1996, after selling my business, did I decide to get more serious about art. I just felt a strong desire, almost a need, to follow my creative nature into fine art. I also love to play golf. Golf is an opportunity to get out into nature. Like Sam Snead said "a walk in the park with three other guys." So I set my goals to be a single digit handicap golfer and an artist who sells paintings. Since then my handicap is 4.3 last year and I have sold over 150 paintings since 1998.

El Capitan West Texas
(click here to see original image)

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

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

I have been pretty diligent about progressing with my art, but like any serious endeavor it has not been a straight line going up in the right direction. I also believe one must seek a balance in life. I have times when my art is not flowing easily; I have to struggle to produce. When I am having difficulty in my studio, I will sometimes go to the driving range or work on my short game at the golf course. I consider those two activities, golf and art, the same because one serves the other.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Experimentation equals creativity. I have worked in pastels, oil pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolors. I keep coming back to pastels. I think it has to do with my enjoyment of drawing. Familiarity with the medium allows me to experiment with subjects, surfaces, size, and color. It is important for me to immerse myself in the process and not focus on the results. Experimentation initiates the process. When I am experimenting, my expectations are lower and the experience is more fun. Too many artists worry about the finished product and not the process.

Sky Study
(click here to see original image)

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

I love being an oil painter and a pastellist. I have sold oils but I would have to say I am a pastellist. There are differences between pastels and oils that are obvious: brush no brush, mixing colors and fixed color in each stick, use of a medium or not, and pastels are framed in glass not oils. I still do both. I am getting better with oils, but I will always be a pastellist.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I would like to work more with watercolors and ink. The idea of mixed media is intriguing to me. Once a base is established, then creativity kicks in. A structure created from watercolor and ink would be a very interesting place to start.

Below Old Baldy
(click here to see original image)

What can you tell us about your greatest influences and how you developed your style?

All my life I have loved to study and practice. I go to lots of museums, have many periodical subscriptions and have a good art book collection. French Impressionism formed my love of art and painting. But when I found the Taos artists, I got really turned on to being an artist. Edgar Payne, Maynard Dixon, Nicolai Fechin, Ernest Blumschein, and Oscar Berninghaus, all of these artists became known for their use of impressionists technique and American subjects. All of these painters shared a love for innovation and adventure. These artist were trailblazers in every possible way.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination is driven by a desire to have a finished product. I don't focus on that, I focus on the process which is its own endeavor and has its own rewards. Like the saying, "there are no ends, only means." As long as I am moving, doing, thinking, planning, and organizing, I am not procrastinating. Procrastination comes from fear, fear of failure.

Storm Coming, Taos NM
(click here to see original image)

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

I don't really employ any techniques per se. I enjoy my life. Doing art is a part of that life. Just like golf, family and business... art happens. What else do I have to do?

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Albert Handel has a rule about finding a place to paint. He says, never drive more than 30 minutes from home, when you arrive never walk more than 100 yards, when you start painting look for subjects 360 degrees around you. I try to paint subjects from my world, from scenes that are familiar. I try to remember, good photographs don't always make for good paintings and there maybe many good paintings in one photograph. I ask myself why I am drawn to an image; I want to know what is interesting to me. Other artists inspire me to investigate their motifs. I am interested in Milt Kobayashi right now. He is featured in a show at Gallery on Shoal Creek.

Hiking Lake Tahoe
(click here 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 constantly compare my current work against my past work, I compare against other artists, I look for trends in my work, and I push myself to understand art that is inexplicable. I stay open and loose in my style and approach to learning. I like to surprise myself by changing my preferences.

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

I have been interested in real life as abstraction in line and mass. The work of Wolf Kahn, Richard Diebenkorn, Hans Hoffman are examples of artists who I would like to understand. The ability to see in a different way and share that vision is what has me searching right now.

What makes you happiest about your art?

It makes me happy for other people to like my work and want to own it!

Thanks, Mike!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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