Thursday, June 27, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Tahirih Goffic

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

To enter to win Tahirih's painting, "The King" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Tahirih's DPW Gallery page:

​Hmmm...What do I say about me?! I'm an artist (obviously), lol, and a mom of two incredible children, and I'm married to the love of my life! My life is full of too many blessings to count, one of them being able to pursue my passion for painting. I believe the world is already filled with enough turmoil, and I also believe that to give something our energy, gives it power, so I choose to paint what I find beautiful. I like to paint almost everything. Some days, it's tomatoes, other days it's my children, and sometimes it's the way the sun is setting behind a cow! I love romance, and traveling, and curling up in my favorite chair with a good book, and I'll paint anything that reminds me of my favorite things.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Well, I clearly remember when I was six, deciding that I would be an artist. I was sitting on the brown shag rug at the coffee table, with my colouring book and a piece of tracing paper. I traced a picture of a dog, and it turned out so good! I was absolutely thrilled, and I decided then and there that I was going to be an artist when I grew up. And I never stopped drawing.

I didn't actually start painting until I was in my twenties, other than a bit for art school. I was very good in pencil, and I was already selling my photorealistic portraits in graphite, so I was scared to venture into paint because I was afraid I wouldn't be any good. On a vacation in Mexico with my husband, I tried a little watercolour painting and it turned out great. I was hooked on colour, and I haven't turned back since.

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

Only when I have to eat, or go to the bathroom, or feed my family! But really, no. I paint whenever I can find the time. I have been consistently painting or drawing almost every day for over twenty years. I expected to have to slow down when my children were born, but I think I actually painted more. Having less time made me really utilize the time that I did have, and taught me a lot about time management and discipline.

The King
(click to see original image)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Well, I started out in high school with graphite. I drew very very detailed photorealistic portraits and figurative pictures, mostly on commission. They would take weeks of intense concentration, but I loved how people were so amazed by the finished product. When I broke into painting, I started in watercolour, because someone had told me that it would be the best transition, considering the level of detail that I used. I tried about four paintings in watercolour at that time, and found it frustrating and hard to control. I actually didn't like it at all, so I tried acrylic.

By then I had my first child, and was worried about the fumes and chemicals that I'd have to use with oil paint. During my acrylic stage, I painted a lot of wildlife, and I found acrylic very well suited for that genre. I stuck to my pain-stakingly detailed paintings, every hair on the bear and so on... Again, these paintings took so long, but the finished product was worth it.

Until I found water-soluble oils. Suddenly it was like someone had opened the door to a cage I hadn't even known I was trapped in! I found a freedom of expression that I hadn't found in any other medium. The colours were so rich, the paint so alive! I could suggest something with a stroke that would have taken me half an hour before. I could finish a painting in a day!

I started to paint people more often, my first love, and I found that I could capture an expression much more easily, and my paintings had a freshness that I couldn't achieve with the slow glazing of watercolour and acrylic. Now I paint almost exclusively in oils, and I love to paint both people and animals. I do venture off into landscape or still life once in a while when a particular scene screams to be painted, or when I feel I need a break from things with eyes.

Blanca
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

I think the people that inspire me most are the ones who are doing it. Living life as artists, and proving to the world that we don't have to fit the "starving artist" stereotype. They work so hard, and produce such beautiful work. Living artists whose work inspires me are Jeremy Lipking, Morgan Weistling, Scott Burdick, for their gorgeous portrayal of human life, and Robert Bateman for his incredible wildlife. Also, the deceased masters, John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla and Velasquez for their unmatched skill with edges and brushwork, and Rembrandt for his amazing portraits. I was completely floored when I saw an original like his. He had the ability to make a person "breathe". His paintings look like they're living people, like you're looking through a window at someone... Breathtaking!

What does procrastination look like for you?

Since I don't have a studio, it often takes the form of housework. My excuse is that I can't paint until the house is clean! Then it's, "Wow, I'm really hungry, I should fix myself a snack before I get comfortable at the easel." Then it's, "I haven't worked out yet, and I ate pizza and red wine last night!" So, off for a run I go! Then email, and of course email leads to Facebook, and Facebook leads to checking out other people's likes, and before you know it I'm on Pinterest, and I'm like, "Hey, I should sand my dresser and repaint it with that cool dead tree and bird motif!" and before you know it the kids are home from school... sigh! Lol!

Too Close and Very Afraid
(click to see original image)

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

So, to ensure that I actually get some work done, I try to clean the house the night before, exercise as soon as I get up, and then I allow myself to check my email briefly while eating breakfast. I try to only check Facebook during snack breaks or lunch, which I try to keep to fifteen minutes. Notice, I did say try a lot there... In reality, it's usually a combination of this and a lot of real procrastination. It's a work in progress. ;)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I think, like many other artists, ideas come from everywhere. Sometimes a scene reminds me of a famous painting, sometimes it might just be the way the light is falling across my child's face, and quite often it's from my huge collection of reference photos. I consider myself lucky to live in a very rural area, in fact it's one of the last places in North America which still has vast stretches of untouched wilderness.

I grew up on a farm and I feel a particular nostalgia and attraction to pastoral scenes. I miss the direct and real experience of living off the land, and painting it is a way to revisit it. I have friends with farm animals so I often visit and take lots of pictures. Bella Coola is also famous for its abundant wildlife. Deer cross the parking lot of the grocery store, and bears snack on the apples and plums in my yard, offering great photo ops. I've travelled extensively and always bring my camera.

The Shaggy Pony
(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 think I keep my art fresh by choosing subjects that I can paint alla prima (all at once). I find that if a work goes on too long, it loses the initial inertia and feeling that I started with and starts to look laboured. I love the opportunity daily painting affords for this very reason. I can finish a painting fairly quickly without losing interest. Painting these small works has taught me a lot, even when I choose to paint larger works.

I try to visualize my finished product fully before I start. I decide on a colour scheme and I often premix my colours so that I don't get stuck in the middle of the painting by a colour or value problem. I find that if I do a colour study, or spend too much time in planning, I feel as if I've "already done this one," and I lose the initial passion of the idea, so I prefer to fix any problems on the fly. Apparently, this is not supposed to be the way to go, but it is what works for me. If I end up struggling with it, it may or may not work it out in the end. But if I lose the passion before I start the painting, the work is a lost cause anyway.

Signs of Spring
(click to see original image)

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

Right now, I'm learning about edges and colour. I'm reading James Gurney's "Color and Light", an amazing and well written book, and also Richard Schmidt's "Alla Prima". There is so much information in these two books. I believe they are must reads for every artist! I'm also learning a lot about what I respond to most as an artist, and about creativity; how to make a work "yours" and not just a copy of a photograph.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am just happy that I can do it! I have a wonderful, supportive husband, who has allowed me to follow my passion. I'm happy that I can touch people with my art. When I hear from a collector that they just love a piece, or that it reminds them of their beloved pet, or that it takes them back to a special time in their life, then I feel that I am serving my purpose on this planet.

Thanks, Tahirih!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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