Thursday, January 19, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Nat Dickinson

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

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

From Nat's DPW Gallery:

​My love of painting landscapes was instilled by my grandfather, an enthusiastic amateur painter. As a child, I would paint with my grandfather on the back porch studio of his summer house in Maine overlooking the Penobscot Bay. Maine remains a key subject of my work, along with my home in Asheville, North Carolina.

My paintings explore those mindful moments when we stop to see the extraordinary transformations of very familiar surroundings. In my daily walks the changes in light, atmosphere, perspective, and color can make the most ordinary scenes become captivating.

My work is shown in juried shows and galleries in Washington, D.C, North Carolina, and Maine. You can follow my daily painting on Instagram. (click to view bio)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My grandfather was an enthusiastic amateur painter.  When I was small, he would encourage me to paint with him on the back porch of his cottage on the Penobscot Bay in Maine.  I still go and paint at that cottage all these decades later.  Every summer my dozens of cousins will show me yet another of my grandfather's paintings they've proudly kept for years, and remind me of how pleased he'd be that I'm painting.

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

I completed my graduate degree in art, but after some time working in a printmaking shop, I switched to a long career away from creative pursuits. I'd always sculpted or painted throughout that time, and took the first opportunity to return to painting. I've known a lot of artists who struggled with their work when they struggled financially, and I've often wondered whether I would have been a better artist or not if I had persisted.

Through the Trees
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

In college and grad school, we all recapitulated the entire history of modern art over the course of seven years-- a little impressionism, cubism, abstract expressionism, and conceptual art all figured in there.  I was working with wood sculpture when living in New Mexico and some time after, but have focused mostly on landscape painting over the last twenty years-- like my grandfather.

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

90% of my work today is landscape, seascape, or cityscape with acrylic paints.  My sculpture skills and tools are now used for framing and occasional furniture making.

Fairview Barn
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I've never been a technical painter and am not really drawn to exotic media or techniques-- which is somewhat ironic since I was a printmaker in school, and that is all techniques.  At this time, I am focused on working more authoritatively and better expressing light and color.

Who or what inspires you most?

David Hockney does the most brilliant unpretentious documentaries on his creative process.  The recent "A Bigger Picture" and older one on his photo collages have always excited me.  There is not much convergence in our work, but I love to hear him talk.

Mill Pond Passage
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don't really see a benefit in procrastinating or waiting for inspiration. Paint some every day, even if you are likely to end up painting over it.  The big ideas come from a lot of little observations from working through the difficult times.  Otherwise procrastination just feeds itself.

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

Like my dog, I'm habit driven and am uncomfortable when not following my routine.  Make art your habit, and this question doesn't really come up.  I can understand that people have busy schedules that can interfere, but you have to honestly evaluate whether that is what is preventing you from making art.

Rescue Dog Boomer
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I walk for two or three hours a day with my dog, and try to scout for new ideas and subjects while doing so.  I plan out ten or fifteen paintings ahead of time, and so I get to pick out the one that most excites me.

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

I recently attended an artist's colony for two weeks, and that was a great opportunity to live with other artists in a new place and context.  I worked incredibly hard and had a great time.  The challenge is to take the excitement of that experience and carry it back to the routine of the studio.

West on Patton
(click to view)

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

How to manage being a selling artist.  It's very challenging maintaining your self-esteem and vision when faced with market pressures, and it is a constant effort trying to find the right situation and audience for your artwork.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The continuous improvement I see.  I think a lot about how my experience of making a series of paintings is so different from the viewer's experience of seeing a single finished work.  The paintings I love best are the ones that seem to flow from the brush, or, conversely, the ones that I had to work hardest to pull together.  That's why the paintings I see are so different from the ones my audience sees.

Thanks, Nat!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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