Thursday, January 3, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Nancy Medina

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

To enter to win Nancy Medina's painting, "Blue Monday Lilies," go to go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Nancy's DPW Gallery page:
Nancy is an award-winning artist and art instructor for the Dallas Arboretum whose oil paintings are in homes and private collections around the world. Nancy studied art history and illustration at the University of London and oil painting and color theory at Texas A&M University.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I drew in pencil and charcoal my entire childhood, and used to get in trouble in school for drawing in the margins of my homework. My new year's resolution when I turned 30 was to put down the pencils and start working in color. I took some private lessons in oil and watercolor. I went back to college that year and took color theory and art history and studied overseas one summer at King's College in London with the art class there, traveling around and learning about the old estates, art collections, and visiting the museums.

Blue Monday Lilies
(click here to see original image)

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

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

I stopped painting for a few years when I was in my mid-30s, but never a day went by that I wasn't thinking about it. I worked during the day as a magazine editor (and still do), but the art was something I carried with me constantly, this need to paint, to pick up a brush, to draw. I could never set those thoughts aside. I picked up the brushes again in my early 40s, but this time I focused primarily on oils.

Five years ago, I began painting every day. Two years ago, the Dallas Arboretum asked me to teach for their adult education program. Today I teach floral oil painting around the U.S. I never would have known how much I would enjoy teaching if it had not been for Joy Ijams at the Dallas Arboretum, teaching has truly become my new passion.

Shall We Dance Poppies
(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 worked in acrylics in college, and have also painted in watercolor and extensively in oils. I was growing a bit frustrated with the extremely realistic, traditional painting style, beginning to feel like I was clocking in to work when I went in the studio. I longed to get off the realism treadmill and push color. So I set aside the brushes and picked up the palette knife.

I painted exclusively in palette knife in oils for two years to loosen my style and break out of that rigid mold. When I went back to the brushes, it was a bit scary to re-learn the brush, but now I think I've found the middle ground I wanted - a loose, fast approach to impressionism with the bright colors I love. In the future I would really like to take some collage mixed-media classes, and also work in pastels, too - I love texture!

Farmyard Drama
(click here to see original image)

It would be wonderful to live in the world you've created by paint, with a profusion of flowers and peaceful scenes from simpler times. Where do you find the inspiration for your subject matter?

I grew up on an organic farm in East Texas long before organic was in style. My three sisters and I had chores every day we had to take care of after school, and my summers were spent barefoot and relatively secluded with my sisters to play with, with trips to the library every week, and with animals and farm life. My parents planted flowers every 10th row of crops to attract the insects off the vegetables - I grew up looking up at 10 foot sunflower stalks in the garden and seeing cactus flowers bloom wild in the woods. I would not trade my childhood for anything, it really shaped the way I see the world and my love for color and the simple gifts of nature.

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

I work as the director of a medical magazine for emergency doctors by day, and every evening when I get home from work I follow a strict routine. My husband and I don't have children, we have four very spoiled pugs, so once I have the house clean and the fatties fed (that's the pugs, not my husband), I go straight to the studio. I do not sit down or I would not get up. I paint every day. The closest thing to procrastination in my studio is to give myself the luxury of painting a floral when I have a commission waiting. This forces me to paint faster and be more prolific, plus it satisfies the muses.

Parasol Sunflower
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I have a mental list of about 100 things I want to paint jiggling about in my brain at all times. I have a huge inventory of photographs from my travels, especially of flowers and cottage gardens from Southern California, so I shuffle these around from time to time with a fresh approach each time I re-visit a favorite subject. I keep fresh flowers in the studio for my still life setups. I never can get past the flowers in the grocery store, I forget to buy bread and milk, but I always remember the flowers. It's a good thing my husband does all the grocery shopping and cooking, or else we'd be living on M&Ms and potato chips.

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

Working from real flowers is a great way to keep my work "in the moment." It's not really about color so much as it is about light, time of day, and the subtle nuance of the flower. There are no two flowers exactly alike in the world, they are like snowflakes. If you are looking at real flowers, you have the opportunity to capture something unique about that flower that no other artist may have ever seen. Capturing the imperfections in florals is also very important.

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

I love the push and pull of color, the way light transforms and completely changes a subject, and of experimenting with different approaches.  I like painting the same scene on different types of surfaces, or with different cool and warm mixtures, and comparing the two to see what I have learned. And I am constant student of color. I have an entire wall in my studio with post-it notes, my recipes for colors and combinations for particular flowers. These are the notes for my future book!

Sun Swept Cottage Path
(click here to see original image)
I am also learning that there are times when I lead the art, and times when the art moves out in front of me, teaching me something new. I've learned that when the muses sing, to stop whatever I am doing and obey them, or I will lose that spark. I've also learned I love seeing my students' faces light up when they finish their paintings, and hear that they are excited to have a new approach to painting and can hardly wait to get home and paint again on their own.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I love color, it makes me happy, and art lets me make that color happen!

Thanks, Nancy! 

© 2013 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

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