Thursday, June 14, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Beth Hunt

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Beth's painting, "Forest Stream" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Beth's DPW Gallery:

My name is Beth Hunt and I am a self-taught artist originally from California where I sold my work for a number of years during my late twenties. I took an extended hiatus from my art for the last fifteen years in which I got married, moved to Washington, and became a mother (whew!). Now that my two sons are beyond needing my constant attention, I am happily back in my art studio with a renewed passion! My favorite mediums are chalk pastel and oil paint, but I also enjoy using colored pencil and watercolor on occasion. While breathtaking landscapes do inspire me, I am also captivated by the little things... the quiet, easily overlooked beauty of the every day. It is my hope that you will enjoy these images as much as I love to paint them!

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have always loved to paint and draw and had an aptitude for it that my parents recognized and supported at an early age.  I definitely got more serious about art in high school and discovered pastels which I loved right away.  During college, I majored in Biology, but continued to draw when I had the time and even completed a booklet of scientific drawings for the Mammalogy department for my senior project.

Forest Sream
(click to view)

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

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

After graduation, I began to experiment with oil paint and quickly found my way into a reputable gallery where I showed my work until I had my first child.  At that point, I took an extended hiatus (fifteen years!) from painting and only in the past few years began to find my way back into my studio.  It's funny, but even though I didn't paint all that time, I was still keenly observing everything with "artist's eyes".  Each time I saw something that inspired me, I would think about how I would go about painting it.  I believe that this intense observation combined with the strong desire to create has served me well.  I am now back in my studio with fifteen years worth of pent-up creative energy!

Road to the Mountains
(click to view)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?  Which one have "stuck", which ones have fallen away, and which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I began using chalk pastels in high school and I still enjoy them just as much as I did then.  Oil paints came later and I fell in love with the ability to mix my own colors as well as their wonderful buttery texture and also the durability of the finished work.  When you've dealt with nothing but pastels, having a finished piece that you aren't terrified to touch is really a relief... especially when you have kids and a snoopy cat around your studio!  I also enjoy colored pencils and have completed several highly realistic, detailed pieces with this medium, but each drawing takes a very long time.  I prefer a medium in which I can express myself more freely.

As far as genres are concerned, I have done portraiture, figurative work, and realistic animal portraits in pastel and colored pencil.  While showing in the aforementioned gallery, I concentrated on oils to paint pastoral scenes as well as animal portraits that showed my sense of humor.  I  still love pastoral imagery, but have definitely embraced the natural landscape and still life genres which I am enjoying immensely.  I do, however, look forward to including more of my sense of humor in upcoming pieces.  I love to laugh and nothing gives me more pleasure than to have one of my paintings make someone smile.

In the Flow
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

Without a doubt, the two biggest inspirations for me are the natural world and the beauty of the simple, everyday things in life... the way the light catches your cup of tea or that "pesky" dandelion growing in your lawn.

What does procrastination look like for you?

It looks like a good book... or housecleaning... or making an extravagant meal... or going for a drive... or going for a hike... etc., etc., etc!  Procrastination?  What's that?

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

I make sure that when it is a "painting day"(at least four days per week), I treat it like a job.  I make myself a tea and get into my studio by 9 or 10AM, take a lunch break around 1PM, and continue to work until around 3:30 (this is when I pick up my kids from school).  Sometimes I will work later if I'm not to a good stopping point.  I also try not to answer the phone during these hours.  If I know that I am pressed for time and won't be able to complete an entire painting that day, I set a reasonable goal for myself and make sure that I reach it.  These smaller goals can be setting up a still life, taking a reference photo, completing a value study, mixing my paint for the next day, etc.

Shy Iced Tea
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

This is a tough question because I get them from anywhere and everywhere.  Sometimes I see something beautiful outside and I quickly snap a photo, sometimes I will think of a still life because I like the concept, colors, or subject matter in the idea, and other times it's just a surprise.  For example, my dog does something silly and I get a great photo or I am looking through my father-in-law's photographs (he is a wonderful photographer) and see one that I just have to paint (with his permission, of course).

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

I only paint what I truly WANT to paint.  I think that is the real key.  I believe that many times, artists get caught up in what they think will sell instead of what gets them excited.  That will kill inspiration every time because if you do this, you aren't really inspired to begin with.  I also make sure that if I have been in the studio a lot and need a day or two to recharge, I do it!

Canyon on the Palouse
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning right now as an artist?  What makes you happiest about your art?

Right now I am working on loosening up and letting things be.  I know that I am capable of doing realism, but I am thoroughly enjoying the Zen art of allowing my work to be a bit more rough and concentrating on value and color more than detail.  In the past, when doing very realistic, detailed work, I would actually catch myself holding my breath while I painted!  I feel so much more free and playful now that I am loosening up and I think it shows in my art.

Thanks, Beth!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

Thursday, June 7, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Catherine Harley

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Catherine's painting, "Purple Flower Abstraction" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Catherine's DPW Gallery:

I'm a french artist, married to the best Scottish guy, and we have 3 grown up kids. We live in France, but we spend lots of time in the UK where most of our family and friends are. I get my inspiration from these two different cultures, don't ask me to make a choice, it's impossible!

I studied art (restoration and conservation), then I became a copist in museums, and I started teaching 1997.

It took me lots of time to forget all the strict rules of classic painting, and I'm still working on gaining more freedom in my painting today. Painting is more than a passion, it' s a part of myself. It's vital. I discovered the daily painting recently, and I loved all the concept. Joining a big art community and sharing!

Catherine's Art Workshops in France

Tell us a bit how you first started painting.

I come from a family of musicians, so of course I learned music. Everyday going to school, I was passing by an art studio with art classes and the  students’ paintings were hanging in the window. I was admiring their paintings. One day, I found the strength to tell my parents that I wanted to stop music. They said, "you can not live without a passion! Find one," and I instantly shared my dream of joining an art class.

I remember the excitement of the discovery of infinite possibilities with art, and also falling in love with oil painting.

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

Oh yes! Lots of them! As we all know, life is full of surprises, good or bad, and you have to compose with it. I was less productive when my children where young, because they became my priority.

They are now older, becoming young adults, which allows me to concentrate more on my work. I find that these stops were really beneficial to my work. I was not painting, but I was thinking and preparing in my mind what would be my next work.

I now see these stop moments in a very positive way. Recently, I had to stop because of health issues and heavy treatments. When I held the brushes in my hand again, my motivation and ideas were really clear. So if the stops allow you to go straight where you want to when it’s time, you are not wasting your time, maybe even gaining some! Who knows?

Purple Flower Abstraction
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have been playing a bit with most mediums (egg tempera, pastel, watercolor, acrylic, pastel…) It's fun to go from one technique to the other, as it allows me to never be bored. Some of them were really challenging, and I learned a lot from it, like trying to work with soft pastels in superpositions without blurring or using egg tempera and work in layers. I also love to play with all the mediums in acrylics, the textures and effects are incredible. Painting is like a big playground with lots of toys, you want to try them all!

It is the same for the subjects, anything is potentially exciting. A portrait is a landscape in some ways, and a landscape is abstract in some other ways. Any genres will be interesting to paint, it just depends on how you look at it.

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

Oil painting is for sure my mother tongue, but I also love charcoal for its abilities to create textures and values by "adding" and "removing" almost like paint. Gouache is a favorite, I love the velvety  finish and matte aspect. You can dilute it, play with water or apply rich thick paint like I would do with oil. I usually use gouache for quick studies that will be painted next with oil or acrylics on a bigger format.

I don’t use much watercolor, I find that this medium needs a lot of practice, and I don’t have enough sensations compared to oil. But of course, this is really personal.

Floral Effacement
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring? 

I would like to explore some new techniques like collages and mixed medias. I have tried mosaics recently, and I loved it! I tried to adapt it to my work, and the result was interesting enough to make me want to pursue in that direction. The problem is that there are so many things to do! And if I don’t make choices, I will start to scatter.

Who or what inspires you most? 

Lots of great artists, like Sorolla, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassan, Freud, but also many contemporary artists like Alex Kanevsky, Fran├žois Bard, Laurent Dauptain, Niels Smits Van Burgst, Jeremy Mann, and many more. All these artists are amazing teachers and constantly inspire me. Being a figurative painter, my inspiration comes from the emotions connected to what I see. Mainly nature and people, because there is movement, and always something to catch your attention.

The fragility of things and life inspires me.

Three Sisters
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you? 

Choosing to do what I like first always, which makes me go through really stressful periods when I have to deal with all the things that have to be done all at once! And it seems that I am not learning from it. Painting and family comes first, and I have to admit I am a procrastination queen when it is anything to do with administration, papers and numbers. Anyone feeling the same way?

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

I am trying to make it part of my weekly schedule. Two days for painting, two days teaching, one day for all the rest (groceries, cleaning…) and weekend with my loved ones. It is of course not always as organized as I wished, but it kind of works for me. I try to keep two days painting to myself, with nothing interfering in the middle. The hardest part is to protect these two days completely in my agenda; no appointments, no meeting friends during the day, etc… We all know how precious time is!

Contrasted Floral Abstraction
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings? 

During the creative process, I search for subjects, ideas and composition. I use my own photographs, but also the ones that you can find on the internet. They are an endless sources of inspiration. I can select some elements, and make my own composition. I spend lots of time on my computer, looking at photos, composing, reframing, searching, building. All this time is part of the construction of the painting.

I take a lot of pictures, and save thousands of them that will be used maybe one day on a painting. I am building my own bank of pictures, that I can use, or mix with pictures I find on the internet. I find this "research part" as exciting as the "painting part". With the years of practice, I have learned that it’s important to think about what you want to show, and not just do one more painting.

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

I usually do a series of paintings, but sometimes when I feel it’s just a production, and that I am not having fun anymore, I change technique or format.

After painting a big format that will take time and energy, I might paint some really small ones as it is a completely different approach. Changing technique works really well for me too, I draw when I don’t feel like painting, and usually the urge of color comes back quickly!

When none of this works, I will call an artist friend who will find the words to put me back on track by giving a constructive critique on my work. Actually, I do that really often! It’s so helpful when you are stuck, and it’s really interesting to hear someone’s (you trust) point of view. Sometimes I disagree, and it helps me assume my choices, and sometimes the solutions they are offering are excellent, and it helps me evolve in a more open minded way.

Fuchsia Floral Abstraction
(click to view)

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

Painting has been a way of living for so many years, and I am so grateful to have been able to do this. I have been learning so many things through that, especially humility! I feel that the more I learn, the less I know.

At this moment, I am learning to simplify and deconstruct. Trying to go out of my comfort zone without going in a foreign zone. All these new problems make the research even more exciting. Taking more time to think about what do I want to paint, and why, and what is the story I want to tell. Like any other artist, we are telling stories.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Lots of things! Reaching (sometimes) what I had in mind on my painting. Exploring with colors and textures is such an exciting thing to do whatever the result is!

Meeting people through my art is magical, and always interesting to understand their vision.

Sharing my knowledge with students is a real source of joy and satisfaction.

Traveling to exhibit my work or do workshops is always exciting.

Thanks, Catherine!

© 2018 Sophie Marine