Thursday, September 15, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Rebecca Helton

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

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

From Rebecca's DPW Gallery:

Family, friends, faith, and now, finally, painting most days.

It's been a circuitous route! I can't remember not being interested in drawing and others' artwork, so I majored in studio art in college. However, my other great interest was science. The next 35 years were spent raising kids and with careers in medicine and biology. I loved browsing art museums, but I drew and painted only intermittently. I got back to it and received my MFA in 2009. I was fortunate to be able to teach both art and biology, but still crazy-busy! Finally, I'm back where I started, painting and sketching almost daily. Each day is a new beginning. A new day to see, to learn, to experiment, to struggle, and to enjoy the process. I'm blessed! (click to view gallery)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting. Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I first started painting in high school and college, though not a lot. I majored in studio art, but was mostly interested in sculpture at the time. My career took me in a very different path, so I rarely painted for a very long while. I finally took it up again several years ago, but still, between work and family, it was quite intermittent. In January this year, I was able to start painting nearly daily. It took several months to get any skills back, and I started posting here on DPW in May.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have worked in acrylics, oils, watercolors, and pastels. I've painted just about every genre at one time or another. Generally, though, my work is representational. Nonrepresentational work just doesn't feel like me.

Asparagus Adorned
(click to view)

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

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

Currently, I'm working almost exclusively in oils, with a pastel painting on occasion. At some point I'll probably work on some watercolor paintings again, but one thing at a time. I still have so much to learn about oils and just painting in general. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill. "When I get to heaven, I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so to get to the bottom of the subject." I haven't put in my first million years yet.

The past few months, I've been primarily doing still life paintings, along with a few landscapes and reworking some old photos. I'm really interested in landscape paintings right now, but most of those I've done so far have been trashed or wiped out (this is where you're supposed to laugh with me).

Egg and Silver
(click to view)

Who inspires you most?

This is difficult to answer – there are so very many wonderful painters. Currently, I'm really enjoying Catherine Kehoe, Tim Kennedy, David Roth, and several of the wonderful artists here on DPW! I never tire of looking at work by Euan Uglow, Richard Diebenkorn, Edouard Manet, Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent (particularly his works from the Middle East and North Africa), and so many others.

What does procrastination look like for you?

A fully-read book returned to the library.

By Tremaine Shelter
(click to view)

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

I do best with routine. I start painting shortly after my granddaughter leaves for school and stay at it until life interrupts. Some days it works out very well; other days not so great. I'm an artist, but like everyone, I also have a lot of other competing roles. Balancing is difficult, so I try not to get too obsessive about sticking to routine. On the other hand, I do manage to do at least something with painting nearly every day.

Blueberry Minions
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

It's corny and trite, but I really do get excited when I notice something different about the way light is hitting an object; when that happens, I want to share it. For me it generally starts with the purely visual. But sometimes as I work on a painting, I start seeing symbolism or a new meaning, which in turn may lead me to change the image. I occasionally discuss this in my blog and comments on DPW, but mostly leave it to the viewer to insert symbolism or just enjoy the visual concept.

Muriel and Mother, 1926
(click to view)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I tend to go through periods when very little seems to work out as I'm pushing to change a habit or learn something new. It feels like I'm just slogging through mud for a while, documenting my failures with a photo and then wiping them out. But when I finally do something I am happy with, whether because it turned out well or just that I really learned something, it's like hitting the lottery! It makes all that slogging surprisingly worthwhile.

Thanks, Rebecca!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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