Thursday, August 1, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Alex Zonis

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

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

From Alex's DPW Gallery page:

Alex Zonis is a self-taught artist. She started drawing in graphite in 2009, worked in watercolor, and now is painting in oil. Prior to drawing and painting, Alex was creating beaded tapestries woven on a loom. Her tapestries were shown in several galleries nation-wide, including SOFA Chicago and New York.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started drawing and then painting out of envy of my father. I always wanted to paint, but was convinced that I couldn't. My father started painting when he retired. It was the last straw, I couldn't take it anymore. I started drawing and then painting too. It was 2009.

Psychedelic
(click to see original image)

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

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

No, I don't have time for that.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Graphite is my first love. I spent a year painting exclusively in watercolor doing portraits. When I tried oil for the first time two years ago, I knew it was meant for me.

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

Nothing has fallen away really. I am an Urban Sketcher - pen, pencil and watercolor box are my street tools. But it is oil that really lets me tell stories.

A Dream Within a Dream
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am pretty sure oil is here to stay. There is just too much to do and to learn and to discover within the universe of oil painting. But I am thinking of experimenting with traditional oil techniques on non-traditional surfaces, and also about bringing iconographic elements into my paintings.

Who or what inspires you most?

Old and modern masters. I want it all. I want light like Caravaggio, mood like Sargent and story like Russian Peredvizhniks. I also like to put in symbols, puns and hidden meanings. I want it to look like old masters and have a modern feel - like David Gray does it. I know it is impossible - ha! - but it doesn't stop me from trying.

My Cup Runneth Over
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don't have time for procrastination. I started too late, every day is important. Sometime in the last couple of years, I started thinking of myself as a professional artist. What it means to me is that I get up in the morning, have my tea and go to my studio (formerly known as a dining room). If I can't paint because I have a passage unresolved in my head and don't know what to do, I then do other things: prep next boards, plan future compositions, write in my art blog, do marketing tasks (yuck - but has to be done) or go out to sketch.

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

I just paint. My family is wonderfully supportive. I tell them that I have to paint, and they make space for me to do that. My husband is a writer, he knows about making space for creative work. My daughter is a university student and seems proud of my art. The cat, on the other hand, does not really get it, but she likes to sleep during the day anyway.

Singer
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

But they are everywhere! It's like harvesting apples, just reach out and grab them! I dream them, I find them in my grocery store, during car rides, while reading random books, sketching alone and with people, working out in the gym, eating ice cream in a corner cafe. And especially visiting my local junk store. There are so many ideas that I keep a list, two lists actually, so I don't lose a good one. One list is a bullet list on my computer, the other a folder of images I collected.

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

I don't do anything. Should I keep them in a fridge? I don't even think in these terms. I am just working a painting the best I can. At some point in the process the painting takes the lead and more or less tells me what needs to happen. Then it informs me when it is finished. They are rather vocal.

Unwrapping
(click to see original image)

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

I am learning to teach. I have started teaching indirect oil painting. Currently there are two workshops: one is in person in my studio in Chicago and the other - long distance via Skype. I have awesome students and hope they learn as much as I do through our process.

What makes you happiest about your art?

When my composition just worked out - the crop and light and color and ratios; this makes me so happy and excited about a possibility of a great painting, that I cannot settle and have to go work out or something.

When I just finished the first color layer and checked the painting from a distance and know that it will work out!

When the client, having just received a painting, sends me an email saying, "It is so much better in real life!"

Thanks, Alex!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

2 comments:

  1. It is very apparent that Alex has a true passion for painting and I always enjoy seeing her new work in my email inbox. It is nice that Daily Paintworks hs featured this wonderfully talented artists and allowed the rest of us gain some insights to what inspires her to paint.
    Enzie Shahmiri
    www.EnzieShahmiri.com

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  2. Alex has inspired me in so many ways. I love to see what she's working on and how she approaches each piece. I love her posts and comments. And most of all... I LOVE my new Alex Zonis painting QWERTY. It really, truly is even better in person. [https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=371252299643092&set=a.155910147843976.23980.113802022054789&type=1&theater].

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