Thursday, October 18, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Diane Whitehead

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

To enter to win Diane Whitehead's painting, "Bear," go to DailyPaintworks and click on the Spotlight Giveaway button in the top-left corner of the website.

From Diane's DPW gallery page:
I have been published in various magazines and cover publications. I am drawn to the natural beauty and coloring of an animal and am aware of how it must adapt to its surroundings, to become invisible to the hunter, visible to the same species to mate and powerful enough to scare off predators. 
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

When I was around 12 years old, I had an uncle who gifted me his old oil painting set. He included some Walter Foster art books. I followed the instructions in the books and found so much peace with the painting process. I was the second of 8 children and it was chaos all around me, except when I holed up in a quiet place and painted.

(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 painted until about the age of 24 when I got married and had my daughter. I then had a son at 34 and worked in real estate for those years. I really wanted to start painting again, so I bought 100 canvases, and told myself that if #100 was not remarkably better than #1, then I had to find something else to do. All 100 paintings sold! I was in love with the process again. Struggled along each day, working full time, raising four kids (I remarried and he had two sons) until I moved to Park City 10 years ago, when I finally decided to jump in with both feet. The journey has been incredible! The artists I have met, been inspired by and collectors too, all make this life of mine extraordinary.

(click here to see original image)

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 started with oils and then tried acrylic when I came back to painting, but the smell and feel of oil paint pulled me back to my roots and has since been my only medium. I really have not given any thought to any other medium except for sculpture. I think I would love to try my hand at it someday.

Many of your paintings are of animals in the natural world, either caught in a moment of stillness or intense focus. What can you tell us about how you capture your subjects and what draws you to them?

We travel often through Yellowstone park and we live part time in Montana. Often times a bear or elk or other wildlife will cross my path in both places. A few weeks back while painting in my summer studio I saw something out the corner of my eye a few feet away and there was a bear eating grass right outside the door. He just got out of the river and was just beautiful! He glanced my way a few times while I snapped photos of him.

Little Black Bear
(click here to see original image)

We also have a "pet" fox who sleeps on the deck and around everyone's property on the lake. Yellowstone also offers a variety of opportunity to capture images of the wildlife. Just follow the photographers! What draws me to them is their sense of being, they belong there. They let us visit and walk the same game trails they devise to get from shelter to water.

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

I work full time at my business. I was raised to be independent and because of that strong sense of work ethic, I operate my career as a business, one that I am so very blessed to have. I have a developed a process for my business and now it works well for me. Someone told me not too long ago, if you work for yourself be sure you have six forms of income. I believe this to be true. Make opportunity and choose to have your work work for you instead of you working for others. I play hard, hike, bike, boat, swim, travel, and when its time to get work done, I am able to find that place of little or no distraction to create my pieces. Distraction is a choice and when I choose it you can most likely find me fishing or playing on my boat.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I spend hours mulling over images or watching shows on wildlife on Discovery. I imagine a scene in the woods where no one knows what these animals actually do, then draw ideas in thumbnail form, then go with one. I walk game trails quite a bit around Montana and while doing that the foot prints and markings tell me stories. I have also come to love the working cowboy as inspiration for my western pieces. I often visit local ranches or come across a group of ranch hands moving cattle or livestock through an area.

Cowboy Equine
(click here to see original image)

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

Sometimes I get "stuck" and when I do, I really embrace that place. It offers me the opportunity to visualize something new and different. I am always trying new things, traveling the west coast from top to bottom, southern Utah, or Washington, always with camera in hand. If I do get stuck, I plan a road trip. We have a pop up camper, so being outside is always the option for me. That is where the real action is. Rodeos, pig roasts, funky rural Montana bars, there are always country kids, or little cowboys to snap pictures of.

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

I took a class from Jove Wang some years back and became mesmerized by his technique. He paints with his brush loaded with colors like marbles. I have notice lately that while painting I am making a puzzle with marbled color. It's about the shapes, when to go thick or thin and what color looks best beside another color. When I feel I need a bit of a change I buy a few new oil colors and just play that against what I have been using. I love the "aha!" moment and for me that comes about by exposing myself to what is all around me and with that attitude I can learn something new every day.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Two things mostly. When a piece turns out and you felt as if someone else painted it. That place you go and the feeling of a higher power.

Pretty Girl Moose
(click here to see original image)

And when I get emails from people who tell me how one of my paintings has touched them. Who doesn't love that? It is a super wonderful time to be an artist. We support one another and learn from each other. Thank you for the feature and the interview.

Thanks, Diane!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

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