Thursday, December 13, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Alida Akers

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

To enter to win Alida Aker's painting, "Lupines by the Seashore," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Alida's DPW Gallery page:
I received an undergraduate double major in fine art and education with studio majors in painting and drawing. My graduate studies were in biomedical illustration, which fed my love of detail and the left side of my brain which loves biology and Mother Nature.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

As a child in elementary school I was lucky enough to live in a rural school system that actually had a art teacher. She spread herself over all the elementary schools so we only had art class once a week, but I can remember the excitement on art day. All our supplies were tucked into our own cigar boxes, including the infamous Prang brand crayons and watercolors. The activities were far less complicated than art instruction these days, but it lit a tiny, creative candle.

Lupines by the Seashore
(click here to see original image)

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

In middle school a adult friend gifted me with an acrylic paint set. She was one of those ladies that just seemed to pick the right gift for a child. For the first time I could feel "real" paint moving across a canvas.

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

Of course. Life has a way of circumventing the best of intentions. Our society still in most cases places the greater weight of child rearing responsibilities on the mother. When my daughter was three weeks old, my marriage ended and I took up the rein of single parenthood. After an adjustment period, I adapted my paintings and moved from large canvases to smaller ones and tried to eek out time for painting. I remember meeting one of my college professors at an art exhibit. He asked, "Alida, what happened to the large canvas format?" I chuckled and said, "These days they have to fit on top of the refrigerator!" Child in house.

Persimmons Caught by Snow
(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 have always been an art junkie. I remember in college professors telling me to concentrate on one medium or technique and quit wandering around through the vast array of possibilities. My "flower child, hard-headed, didn't sit right with the heart" mentality overtly rejected that theory and I have been experimenting ever since. Because of this, I have become competent in pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, oil, pen and ink, acrylic and mixed media.

We never tap our true depths of creativity. We just need to keep diving into the waters. I look forward to experimenting with acrylic paint on damp, unprimed canvas. It has a very ethereal component.

A Woodland Dawn
(click here to see original image)

About my whimsical paintings… Well these are the Godiva chocolates on my art platter. They are pure whimsy and I can get lost in the little cottages and walking up the flower-lined lanes. My mother was an elementary school teacher and she surrounded her two daughters with colorfully illustrated books. Turning page after page of a book, lost in thought and wonderment, are enchanted moments.

Perhaps it is a nostalgia event, but I adore stepping back into that childhood mindset. I receive emails from customers that warm my heart… they are looking for something childlike and warm hearted and feel they find it in my Storybook Cottage Series. I draw inspiration from vintage storybook and greeting card illustrations and my personal wandering for this series.

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

Procrastination was a hulking specter for most of life. Then I took inventory and realized, because I had to make a living with my art I had become production oriented and had lost touch with the gentle creative process that must incubate and stew in the pot.

The problem was not so much procrastination as setting the bar too high for myself. If I need to produce five paintings in a week and only managed four, I fed myself a dose of failure. Artists must STOP this. I also have had health issues this last year that have forced me to slow down. My "to do" list only gets nibbled away at now rather than bulldozed, but perhaps this is the way it should have been all along. We need to keep on task, but in a way that allows the positive side of the creative process through.

Pears on Vintage Linen
(click here to see original image)

To squeeze in more creative time I have learned to be an early riser. I have a bird feeder right outside the window I face when painting. Some mornings I am painting before the birds arrive. The tiny feathered creatures keep me grounded and are an absolute joy to watch. If you enjoy the surroundings where you work you are more likely to spend time there.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings? Avoiding burnout?

Since I work in landscapes, still life, botanicals and whimsical themes, I truly never run out of ideas. I take photos out in the country near my home, peruse photo sites online (careful to never copy... just use the visual as a jumping off point), turn the pages of vintage storybooks and allow my mind to wader off into an idea. If the landscape cup is looking a bit empty then that day I work on something else. I encourage artists to climb out of their boxes. If they are only doing landscapes they may learn much by trying another genre. There is still that delicate balance between "what will sell easily" for simple budget purposes. I try to keep ideas fresh even when completing similar pieces. Burnout occurs with me only with housework.

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

You must cultivate your profession. Internally and externally. The world will not come to you... that only happens in movies. Moving pieces to Daily Paintworks was an example of my stretching out to new venues. It has been a very positive move.

Cottage in the Wood
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your work?

Spending time on the ruffle of a hollyhock blossom, putting myself in a position where surprises happen and hearing just kind words from folk that have purchased my work.

Thanks, Alida!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Alida, for sharing your truths as an artist and your paintings. Reading about you is like looking into a mirror. Your delightful art is a joy and a comfort.