Thursday, December 24, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Rachel Dowd

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

To enter to win Rachel's painting, "Blooms #5" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Rachel's DPW Gallery Page:

I've always been an artistic type. My mom has tons of stories of the artsy messes I made as a kid. Truth is, I love all kinds of art. Sewing, drawing, painting, crafting, decorating, pottery, you name it. I've just recently discovered oils and I LOVE it! I don't know why I was so afraid of them all this time. All the solvents and chemicals and non-water soluableness made me put it off for way too long. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I’ve always had an artistic “bent” ever since I can remember, but I didn’t start painting seriously until 2013.  I haven’t been painting that long at all, but I feel like I’ve finally found what my soul has been searching for all these years.  I am soaking it up!  I really felt empowered to start painting seriously after I read Carol Marine’s book “Daily Painting”.  I felt like it was ok if I didn’t paint large paintings, and it was ok if I messed up, and it was ok to experiment and try new techniques.  All I had to do was just keep on keeping on and my talent will progress.  Her book really helped me let go of those last few hangups in my mind that were preventing me from giving it my all.

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

When I started painting, I used watercolors.  The luminosity of watercolor is what attracted me to it, but I found I had to plan too much to make my watercolors look the way I wanted.  There was no spontaneity in it for me.  So I dropped painting for a few years.  It was hard to pick up anything artistic after that while our family was growing and three beautiful little girls came into my life.  In 2013 I decided to get serious with painting and I decided to try acrylics.  Mostly because they were cheaper and cleaner to use, but I found myself getting more and more frustrated with them.  I couldn’t make them do what I wanted and they dried way too fast.  So out of frustration, I stopped painting for a while until I finally took the plunge and got into oils.  Oils to me were like a breath of fresh air.  I’ve been painting non stop ever since.  Although, being a mother and homeschooling definitely causes temporary stops every now and then.  I always come running back.

Blooms #5
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I think I’ve experimented with nearly every medium since I was a child.  Pastels, colored pencils, pencil drawing, watercolor, acrylics, oils, you name it.

My genre of choice right now is florals.  I can’t get enough of them.  I also have interests in landscapes and portraits too, but that will come in time.

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

All have fallen away, except for the oils.  Love them oils.  Sometimes I’ll take one of my sketchbooks on an outing and sketch in pen and watercolor, but not very often.  And I never get tired of flowers.  I’m waiting for the day that I decide that I’m ready to try something different, but it hasn’t come yet.  Until then, I will be happy painting flowers indefinitely.

Genuine Friendship
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Lately, I’ve been intrigued with water soluble wax pastels.  I’d really like to try those out, mostly just for fun. I like the idea of a solid stick of color melting into a painting.  I’m not sure if that’s how they really work, but I like the idea.

I really want to start working on portraits, but that is a little too intimidating right now.  I used to draw portraits all the time and loved it, but painting them is a whole different skill altogether. Someday...

Who or what inspires you most?

Some of my favorite artists are Dreama Tolle Perry, Erin Fitzhugh Gregory, Erin Hansen, David Mensing, and Emily Jeffords. John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sorolla have a special place in my heart too.

Color and light seem to inspire me the most, especially high contrasting light.  The soft evening light and the way it makes everything glow stops me in my tracks.  I love impressionism and it never fails to amaze me how a few well placed brushstrokes can register in someone’s mind as a specific object. Our brains are incredible! Impressionism also allows each person’s imagination to “fill in the blanks” and see what their heart wants to see.

Obviously, I love flowers.  They are, without fail, happy and joyful and they just lift the spirit.  I think each flower has a unique personality and I love capturing that in my paintings.  My hope is that the joyfulness in my floral paintings is able to encourage someone and lift their mood, if even for a moment.  

Color is in Everything
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination for me is usually a half-finished painting on my easel that will sit there for a week because I’m stuck somewhere on it and I’m scared that I’ll ruin it.  Eventually the need to paint overrides my fear and I’ll finally finish it.  I’m usually very relieved and happy with the finished product and kicking myself for not finishing it sooner. Or glad it’s over and I can move on to something new.

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

Well, being a wife and a mother to three children always takes first priority, but I’m learning more and more lately, that my art takes a close second, so I try my best to make time for it.  I’m a better mother and person in general when I make time to paint.  I am calmer and happier and more emotionally present with the people who need me.

Blooms #6
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I paint whatever “speaks” to me.  The shimmer of gold, the color of light filtering through a rose petal, the sweeping lines of stray leaves and branches, or the glow of white hydrangeas in the sun. I try to never paint something just because I think everyone would like it.  Those paintings don’t have “life”.  If I stay true to what I’m led to paint, even if it’s not my best painting ever, it is still alive and saturated with emotion.  I love that.

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

The more I paint, the more I try to loosen up and show some energy in the brushstrokes.  I try to make the painting and the brushstrokes themselves both equally beautiful.  It totally thrills me when I take a chance and drag my brush across an area of the painting and it just works!  If a painting looks too stiff and detailed to me, then I perform “art cpr” and swipe my brush across the whole thing.  I can almost hear it take a breath!

I don’t normally experience burnout.  If I do, I know I’m doing something wrong.  Usually the culprit is that I’m not painting for myself anymore and it’s become a chore.  When that happens, I throw all my unnecessary concerns out the window and look for something that is begging me to be painted - no matter what it is - even if it’s not flowers!

A Riot of Desert Color
(click to view)

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

I am learning to enjoy the process of painting. Letting go of my fears and just having fun with it.

What makes you happiest about your art?

When I’m painting I feel like everything around me just falls away.  All my cares and worries disappear and for a short time, all is well and perfect.  It’s better than a massage!  Happy accidents are great too!

Thanks, Rachel!

© 2015 Sophie Marine

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