Thursday, May 15, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Gary Westlake

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

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

From Gary's DPW Gallery page:

I guess I am addicted to making art. Sometimes, I get distracted with the hurly burly, but I always seem to come back to it and at all times I have my antennas out looking for ideas on how to make it better. I have been painting off and on my whole life and that is a long, long, long time. In the past, I used various mediums in my paintings – mostly acrylic but some watercolour and even a couple of pastels, but the last few years, I have worked exclusively with oils which suits the images that I like to make. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I could tell you that my Mom arranged for me to have painting classes as a child, which is true but she is ninety-eight and probably would not be able to remember to verify. I am getting up there myself, so some of the early years are getting a bit fuzzy. I am pretty sure about this. I have always been interested in art and have painted off and on most of my life.

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

“Career” is such a strong word for it. From the very beginning, I had a feeling that this was no way to make a living, so I did something else most of my life to put food on the table to raise a family. When I got a chance though, I would squeeze in a little painting, or a life drawing course, etc. I always seemed to find a way to use my art at work, illustrating reports, etc.

Pink Lotus
(click to see original image)

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

After retiring, I was able to set up a permanent studio which made a great difference, but still there were a lot of distractions, and life seemed just about as busy as it was when I was on the job. Then a couple of years ago, I was not allowed to do much physical work for a while and I turned to painting to fill the time. I tried a couple of the DPW challenges and enjoyed the experience. Then someone convinced me to sell her two of my paintings and that was just the kick in the back side that I needed to try painting almost every day and joining DPW.

Occasionally, I wonder what life might have been like if I had lived it as an artist full time (I would have been poor but - I could have been a contender). I have learned that at whatever age you are, expecting big things from yourself is much better than worrying about your limitations. One advantage I have now, is that I have a lifetime of experiences to paint about.

Blue Umbrella
(click to see original image)

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

When it comes to genres, I cannot settle on any in particular. The images that interest me can come from just about anywhere. For quite a while, I designed with stained glass. The colours can be vibrant but the mechanics of realizing the final work requires a lot of time and attention to detail. I like the immediacy of paint. I also tried pastels and loved the pure colour that you could create with it, but quickly discovered, after framing one piece, that it was going to get very expensive for mats, glass, etc.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I have just purchased a number of water mixable oils and hope to try them when travelling this summer.

Barrel Cactus
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

I have a long list of artists whose work I look at daily, mostly that paint similarly to how I do, or hope to do. I have their work pop up on my Feedly newsreader and on the DPW site. When I see a painting I like, I try to deconstruct how the artist created the piece. I think this all gets incorporated into what I do somehow.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Looking at art instead of creating it (see above).

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

A personal commitment to posting daily for as long as I can, has kept me working at it more consistently. This has done wonders for learning how to paint and, more importantly, is giving me insight into what I need to work on. It helps me notice small irritations or details, and to work on them, like the lighting on my palette or what paints I use, or how to get the photo of a painting to actually look like the painting.

Paddleboats on the Lake
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I’ll be driving down the road and every time I pass a certain place at a certain time of day (bing!). I’ll be flipping through images on the internet or through my gazillion photos ( bing!). There is something about an image that sticks in my brain until I can get it out by painting it. Perhaps I am deluded, but I cannot remember staring at a blank canvas wondering what I was going to paint. There are always a lot of images, and the hard part is deciding which to do next.

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

I hop around from one subject to the next and it has not felt like burnout so far. It is for others to judge whether it is engaging or not. After a while of watching what people seem to like and not like, I am not sure that I completely understand what engages viewers.

Calm Before the Storm
(click to see original image)

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

I am trying to simplify colour schemes, think more in terms of value masses instead of detail and to incorporate more ambiance or meaning into my work (not just a pretty picture). I hope there are enough years in my life left to do this. Lately, I have been experimenting with various methods of toning my boards and of transferring my drawings.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Working on the answers to your previous question.

Thanks, Gary!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

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