Thursday, September 20, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Robin J. Mitchell

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

To enter to win Robin J. Mitchell's painting, "No. 515 - The Church Green," go to DailyPaintworks and click on the Spotlight Giveaway button in the top-left corner of the website.

From Robin's DPW gallery page:
I really try to do a small painting every day, but sometimes life comes between my easel and paints. I normally paint in water-soluble oils, but also love watercolour and gouache.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started to paint when I was in my early teens. I had a pan set of watercolours from my Mom that I used; for paper I used ‘stamp collecting’ paper. I painted the watercolours really thickly as I didn’t really understand how they worked. I was painting!  Never took art classes in high school, but somehow still continued to paint and draw.

I started an accounting degree at college, which is where I found an entire section of the college devoted entirely to art. I forgot about the business degree and applied to a general arts program, they taught everything from paper making, book-making, sculpture, print-making, life drawing and painting. I was hooked after finishing this one year program, then studied the three year program in Illustration. An entire world opened up to me. I was in love with drawing and painting.

No. 515 - The Church Green
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking the "Artist Spotlight and Giveaway" button!

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

I don’t think there has ever been a time since college that I have not painted. I always had a studio set up in my house for me to paint. Ten years ago, my father-in-law helped me build custom furniture for my studio. I now have a room over the garage of our house where I'm able to paint daily.

I've been very lucky to have had a career in art. I've worked as a designer magazine publisher, painted animation backgrounds for Saturday morning cartoons and been a matte painter for sixteen years. I won a Gemini Award for Special Effects for a made-for-TV movie (the Canadian Version of an Emmy Award).

No. 507 - Fence Decoration
(click here to see original image)

For the past four years, I've painted almost every day. Most of them are small and the challenge of creating one every night is a way of learning, by striving to create a better painting than the day before.

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

I painted for years in watercolour and gouache and loved both of the mediums. One day at the local art store, I found water mixable oils, tried some and was hooked. The versatility and ease of being able to stop and start painting was amazing, with minimal clean-up and smell. I have since altered my palette and now most of my oils are oil-based and use orange-scented mineral spirits to clean up.

I love oils, you can truly do anything with then; if you don’t like what is on the board or canvas – just wipe if off. The colours are great and brush stokes are easy to incorporate into your work. I love a painting that looks like a painting. I still love watercolours and gouache, but oils at the moment are what I love.

No. 489 - Sunshine in the Market
(click here to see original image)

There's such a beautiful, true sunlight in your paintings. What have you learned over the years that's made it possible for you to capture such an elusive quality?

I love sunlight - strange, as I live in Toronto, Canada, where the days in winter without sun can be many. I love the shadows that are created by sunlight and the colours found in them. I've been introduced to some great new colours at a Dreama Tolle Perry workshop and have found they have added a entirely new dimension to my work. I've tried to enhance the sunlight and shadows as much as possible.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I'm lucky not to be crippled by procrastination. I truly love to paint and spend hours in my studio working. If I'm away, I miss it so much and can’t wait to get back to it. I've found the best time for me to paint is at night when my wife and daughter are asleep, the house is quiet, and I can focus entirely on what I'm doing.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

This is a really hard thing to explain, something always seems to catch my eye when looking at a photograph or in everyday life. I walk though a forest green space most days and find the light and shadows give me great ideas. Seeing something while driving in the car, objects in the house or garden.

No. 491 - Watching the World Go By!
(click here to see original image)

Sometimes the simplest thing when combined with a great composition and lighting, turns into a great painting. If you look at a collection of my paintings the subjects matter seems to be all over the place, it make things interesting

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

I took a workshop this summer from Dreama Tolle Perry. I've admired her work for a long time; her colour and brush work have always inspired me. Her introduction of new colours and techniques have boosted my painting lately. I also visit other people's blogs and galleries on the internet, such as Edward B Gordon, Carol Marine and Karin Jurick. I study their work and how they have solved composition, colour, light and shadow as well as subject matter. One can learn a great deal from seeing what others have done.

Painting and posting one everyday keeps things fresh as well. You learn from every painting you do, and hopefully the one you do tomorrow will be better than today’s. The mistakes you did today, you'll hopefully avoid tomorrow.

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

I am trying to put the brush on the canvas and make one stoke with the paint and leave it. This is a method that for me is quite hard, as I like to mess with what I have placed down on the canvas and find you lose the quality of colour and spontinaity of the brushwork.

No. 505 - Summer Hay
(click here to see original image)

Mixing the right value and colour on you palette is critical and I am trying to accomplish this. Get the right colour and value and then place just that on the canvas in the right place and leave it. Sounds easy but it is something I'm trying put into practice. If I stick to this, the painting turns out really well.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Painting makes me happy. Finishing a painting and seeing that it has great darks and great light areas, the colours are bright and lively, and you feel great posting it the next day - that makes me happy. I love to paint!

Thanks, Robin!

© 21012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

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