Thursday, February 11, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Gary Bruton

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, "Western Skies" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Gary's DPW Gallery Page:

Landscapes, still lifes, and birds are my usual muses. The way light attaches to objects is what initially gets my attention. Then I begin to look at the form and colors and composition. When painting, I try to recognize what first sparked my interest in the subject and convey that on to the canvas. For still life and landscapes, I prefer to paint from life. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting?

Painting for me was a natural transition from drawing.  When I was in my early teens, I discovered my mother's tole painting oils and supplies in our basement.  Using reference photos, I began to paint birds, landscapes and occasionally reproductions of other artists.  I then began to experiment with watercolors, using dry-brush and doing very detailed paintings, mostly of birds.

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

I had several starts and stops.  Throughout high school, I dabbled off and on with oils and watercolor and continued to do so in college.  While in college, I took a watercolor class and an oil painting portrait class, but my major was psychology, so I devoted varying amounts of time to art while in undergraduate and graduate school.  This on-and-off continued after college, but as my career as a psychologist became more time consuming I painted less and less. That all changed Labor Day weekend of 2012.  I got the urge to paint and pulled out my acrylics and did an 8"x10" landscape from imagination.  That weekend I did a couple of other smaller pieces.  I sort of made a resolution to myself that I would try and do some artwork daily, even if it was just drawing an apple sitting on a table.  It was around this time that I found DailyPaintworks.com.  The "philosophy" to paint small and paint daily as a method to quickly grow as an artist resonated with me.  I soon enrolled in a plein air painting class, and I haven't looked back.      

Western Skies
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

As I mentioned, oil and watercolor are what I really cut my teeth on.  With watercolor, I started with drybrush, but in the class I learned to do more wet-into-wet and go with the looser more spontaneous (and anxiety provoking) side of that medium.  Then I tried chalk and oil pastels and acrylics later on.  As far as genres, I've done very realistic, abstract and currently a looser realism.

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

All that has really stuck are oils and to a lesser extent acrylics.  I feel that rather than to try and develop mastery of several media, I have more than my hands full with oils.  The ease of blending, the texture and richness of oils keep me coming back.  I do especially like the depth of color that can be achieved with acrylics, so I still occasionally paint with them.  Also, acrylics seem to just lend themselves to abstract/nonrepresentational art in my opinion. So on the occasion I paint abstracts, I generally choose acrylics.  At least for my abstracts, pure color and less mixing is customary, and acrylics are great for painting in that style.

Wren on Snow
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I hope to just continue to grow with oils primarily and acrylics to a lesser degree.  There really is a lifetime of learning to do with any medium.  As far as genres or styles, I would like to continue to paint realistically and incorporate more looseness, but precise looseness.
 
Who or what inspires you most?

Not to sound cliche, but nature.  Definitely nature far more than anything else.  There is an endless supply of inspiration in nature.  I think every time I look at a tree or the sky or a bird my mind begins to attend to the the highlights as they contrast with the shadows and all the subtleties in between in color and value.  That said, the work of other artists inspires me a great deal as well.  Seeing paintings where another artist successfully created a suggestion with an economy of brushstrokes absolutely inspires me.  

Agave
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination looks like me holding a garden hose and spray nozzle and cleaning off my patio, me vacuuming or taking out the trash.  Chores seem to be my go-to distractions when I "should" be painting but I'm resisting it.  At least I tend to get something accomplished, even if it's not a painting.

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

I very consciously schedule painting time.  I have a general idea of my schedule for the week and have several two or three hour spaces each week dedicated to painting.  I tend to be pretty disciplined that way, and when it is designated painting time, I paint.  Sometimes I need to do a little psyching myself into it.  Remembering once I start painting, literally two minutes in, I'm going to completely be in the zone and loving it.  That never fails me.  When I start painting, everything else falls away.  My focus is only on the painting.  Painting is a very meditative endeavor.

I See a Squirrel
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Lately I've been painting a lot of birds.  And for birds, I will look at either Morguefile or PaintMyPhoto and just let something catch my eye.  For landscapes and still life paintings, ideas pop in my head all the time.  I will go to the market and see an eggplant and just want to capture that deep rich purple.  Or I'll be driving along and notice the way the clouds and mountains so beautifully compliment one another.  Also at the grocery store bunches of flowers always give me ideas for paintings.  Sometimes I'll experiment a little with compositions.  Looking at the flowers, turning the vase around or rearranging the fruit and then looking at the subject through the frame of my phone camera.  Then once l have the composition the way I want it, I'll paint from life.    

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

Things I use to keep my artwork fresh include the self-instruction, "keep it loose."  "Just suggest it," in reference to some object in the painting.  Something a teacher told me a long time ago that has stayed with me is, "paint with as large a brush as you can, for as long as you can."  He would tell the class, "don't noodle it," meaning don't overwork the subject.  Those little adages go a long way toward keeping a painting spontaneous.  The other thing I would have to say is working from life. In working from life, it's easy to keep a painting fresh and alive because of the play of light and the three dimensional depth.  Another technique, if you will, that I sometimes use is to allow no more than one hour to complete a small painting.  With that time limitation, I can't deliberate too long and that quickness of brush work translates to a painting that is fresh and vibrant.  The energy of the brushwork always carries through to the finished piece.  Along with those things, keeping a limited palette with a few colors and using only one brush or at most two or three for the entire painting. A nice flat or bright brush can achieve almost everything you want to accomplish, and staying with one brush further reduces the thinking/deciding process and allows me to stay in the intuitive, right-brain mode that results in the most satisfying paintings.

Placid
(click to view)

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

I think I am getting more and more comfortable trusting my intuition and just putting the brushstroke down and seeing what happens.  Another saying, and this is me paraphrasing, but something to the effect of "creativity is a series of mistakes and art is knowing which mistakes to keep."  I'm learning to trust my gut rather than think it out too much.  Painting daily really helps with that process.  The brushstrokes become much more second nature.  What used to require conscious effort now just happens automatically.  I have a long way to go, and grow, in that direction.  Another thing about painting that makes it so fun is no matter how much you grow as an artist, there is always a lot more growing to do.

What makes you happiest about your art?

A few things come to mind.  First the process of painting itself.  Being in the flow and watching a painting develop is exhilarating.  Second, to look at a piece that has turned out well and having a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment makes me happy.  And lastly, when someone else appreciates my artwork, that's just icing on the cake.

Thanks, Gary!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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