Thursday, February 7, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Betty Felenchak

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

From Betty's DPW Gallery Page:

"Every artist was at first an amateur"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I started painting in the fall of 2014 after being inspired by the book Fail Fast, Fail Often, by Ryan Babineaux. I have taken some lessons and followed YouTube tutorials. I am currently taking a class with Sean Beavers at Sanctuart Arts in Elliot, Maine. I have a full-time job as a software engineer.

I am attempting to do "daily painting" as a way to move forward in my art journey.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Two things happened about 4 1/2 years ago that got me started painting.  The first is that a friend started painting fairly seriously after years of hardly painting while his kids were young.  He started posting these great paintings to social media at about the same time as I was reading the book, "Fail Fast, Fail Often" by Ryan Babineaux.  This book discussed how adults don't like to try new things because we don't like to fail, but that failure is an integral part of learning any new skill.  Someone can't expect to play a Chopin Nocturne when they first start piano lessons, but instead must be happy with "Mary had a Little Lamb". I decided that since I had always wanted to be able to paint, I should just begin, with the understanding that my first couple hundred paintings were going to be bad, but that I would try to learn from each one.

I took some lessons from local teachers, and also followed along with a bunch of YouTube tutorials.  (Thank you Angela Anderson and Cinnamon Cooney for all your virtual lessons.)  And yes, a LOT of my early paintings were really bad.  But over the years I have seen progress.  I am currently taking lessons from Sean Beavers at Sanctuary Arts in Elliot, Maine.  (See some of his work here: https://www.artsy.net/artist/sean-beavers).


Ring Dings
(click to view)

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

What does procrastination look like for you?

It looks exactly like a Samsung Galaxy S7 phone.

I can always find something to do such as scrolling thru social media or art websites such as Daily Paintworks, playing games, or searching though photo websites for ideas to paint.  Watching other people paint on YouTube tutorials is a great way to put off actually going to the easel myself.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Because I haven't been painting all that long (4.5 years), sometimes I stand back from a work, and I am amazed that it looks like what I am trying to do!  Also, it is really satisfying when people like my work.  And if they like it enough to buy it, I am over the moon.  But what has been the most satisfying is to see that I am making progress in my art journey.  I have been working hard at it and I can see improvement.   I am an engineer in my full-time job, so painting unlocks a different section of my brain and allows me to relax.

The Kiss
(click to view)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

When I first started painting I thought that Water Colors looked easy.  I was so wrong!  I have such admiration for those people who make it look so loose and easy.

I have painted mostly in Acrylic and Oils, going through phases where each was the preferred medium.  For a while I tried Acrylic Pouring, but decided that it was more abstract than I wanted to do. (It was loads of fun, though!).  I also went through a brief period where I tried plein air painting as well.  But again, that is harder than it looks to do successfully.

White Lily
(click to view)

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

Currently I am painting mostly in oils on small canvases in the Alla Prima style.  I am trying to do "daily painting", where I try to complete a whole painting in one sitting.  Because I have a full time job, sing in the choir, and (try?) to go the the gym, my time is limited.  My goal is to complete a small painting in this style about 3 or 4 times per week.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I recently began a class in Representational Oil Painting that will teach me a different method from the Alla Prima method that I currently do.  We will be doing an under-painting and then glazes.  I am looking forward to learning this as I feel that certain paintings need that level of dedication.

I can also recognize that I need to take a drawing class, as I usually trace my design from photos onto my canvas, rather than draw/paint them freehand.  This skill will help with painting from life and plein air.  And someday I would like to get back to learning Water Colors.

This Little Piggy
(click to view)

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

I have found that the hardest thing is to just get off the couch and walk to the easel.  Having a goal of at least 3 paintings a week has helped keep me motivated.  I also find that taking a class once a week helps to keep painting in the forefront of my mind.  I had a couple shows (local library and coffee shop) and that was very motivating to have enough quality work to show.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I am mostly inspired by photos or artwork by other artists.  Sometimes I see a photo that just begs to be painted.  The Facebook group Photos for Artists is great inspiration as the photos are all available for artists to paint with no copyright restrictions.  Sometimes I get into a theme for a while.  Currently I am in a theme of painting food.  Maybe having a New Year's resolution to eat better is the reason I am painting junk food: donuts, cake, cupcakes, ring dings, etc.

Toll House Cookies
(click to view)

What do you most want people to know about you as an artist?

I think what I most want people to know about me is that I am committed to improving my skills and growing.  I am a busy person in the other areas of my life, so I don't have tons of time to make art.  However I am motivated to learn and grow as an artist.  If you check up on my Daily Paintworks website occasionally, hopefully you can watch my progress as I travel along this art journey.  Enjoy!

Thanks, Betty!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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