Thursday, February 21, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Cindy Haase

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

To enter to win Cindy Haase's painting, "Dash of Pepper," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Cindy's DPW Gallery page:
My art education has been self-directed studying with some of the best in the medium of colored pencil and pastel. I serve as the national president of the Colored Pencil Society of America, and am a member of Impressionists Society of America, Missouri Valley Impressionists Society, and the Pastel Society of Colorado.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I walked into the little studio I shared with my painting partner and she was painting this huge canvas in oil with a big paintbrush. I suddenly felt envious. I put away my pastels, got out some old tubes of paint, a scruffy brush and began in December 2010.

Dash of Pepper
(click here to see original image)

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

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

My goal was to go to college after high school and study art, but my first big stop was falling in love, marriage and two little baby boys. Then there was the care and feeding of the boys, so I worked in the corporate world for about 25 years. When I left my corporate job, I had no confidence in any of my artistic skills so rather than go back to drawing and painting, I started a decorative wood painting business, then managed a quilt shop and taught classes in quilting. After making dozens of small traditional art quilts, I began to explore art quilting and that's when my artistic sensibilities started to kick in. That was 2002.

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 took a year-long drawing class in 2002, which really helped my confidence and began exploring colored pencil on my own. My first five years back into my art, I worked only in colored pencil, took classes from some of the best CP artists, taught CP classes myself, and got involved in a the wonderful community of CP artists. I have been on the national board of the Colored Pencil Society of America since 2006 and have served as the president for the last year and a half... even though I don't work in colored pencil anymore.

Cat Nap
(click here to see original image)

In 2007, I began to dabble in pastels which was my first love as a little girl. (A neighbor had given me a box of pastels and some art books and I spent hours in my room creating.) A friend of mine was taking studio classes with master pastelist, Deborah Bays, who lives here in Denver. Deb is fluent in atmospheric realism and the light/shadow (chiaroscuro) approach to still life. I studied with her for 2.5 years and am indebted to her for the concepts she taught me. She not only taught me how to wield my pastels, but much of what she taught me has transferred to my oil painting.

Quang Ho is also a masterful Denver-based artist and I have several of his dvd's which have filled in any of the oil painting questions about the light/shadow approach. In this approach to painting everything is either in the light or the dark... so simple. It's also not so much about painting the objects but the structures created by the lights and shadows... again, simple. Yet, it is very challenging to put in practice.

So much of your beautiful work actually appears to be glowing! How do you do that?

That's an awesome compliment, but I'm not really sure. I paint mostly on Gessobord panels and anything bigger than a 6 x 6" is rare. I consciously minimize my use of white to mix colors, trying to express the light and shadow with pure color. Red is my favorite color and I like it best when it jumps off the painting surface and into your face. I learned a great deal about color mixing, temperature and saturation from my colored pencil "career," and even more about the quality of light from my pastel studies with Deb Bays.

Strawberries and Cream
(click here to see original image)

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

I fight procrastination every day, but having a studio away from home helped. Sadly, my studio mate and I made the decision to give up the studio after two years for financial and other reasons this month. So for now, I have my oil painting "studio" set up in the dining room right next to the bank of north windows. It will stay out all the time, unless the President is coming to dinner.

I also have a black painting apron with a red chipotle pepper on the front. When the apron goes on, it is time to paint. Money is also a motivating factor.... no money... no fun stuff.

Vintage Bottle and Tea Roses
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I gravitate to fruits and vegetables as my painting subjects. The thought occasionally runs through my head to paint something else, but then I think about famous artists like Monet who painted the same thing over and over. There is always something new to be discovered, even if it an apple or a pear. Instead of different subject matter, I usually look for a different approach to expressing my artistic vision, like exaggerating edges, or scratching into wet/dry paint.

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

I love to look at good art and follow dozens of talented artists on Facebook, always looking at how they handle edges or light, or a particularly difficult passage in their paintings. Also interesting to me is when a fabulous painting touches me: what is it that I'm responding to and how do I incorporate that quality into my own art? I've always been a "learner" (I could have been a professional student if I had the money!), so the constant challenge of learning new things keeps me motivated and my art fresh.

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

I love the philosophy of Quang Ho about the different levels of seeing. I'm heavily paraphrasing here. At first, you are just so darned happy to be able to make your brush turn out a decent representation of an apple... that would be first level. Then you move beyond the literal interpretation to "What is there to say about this apple?" and how do to go about expressing that. The third level is.... well, I haven't gotten there yet. I'm still at the second level and happy to be so.

Pepper and Jug
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I grew up in a family with a father who was quite authoritative. My interpretation, most probably not his intention, was that what I had to say was not that brilliant. I think he was trying to instill humility. For me, art is my personal language... I am free to see and communicate whatever I want. It's a conversation between my insides and the outside world, whoever is interested in joining the conversation.

Thanks, Cindy!

© 2013 Jennifer Newcomb Marine


  1. Thanks Celia for taking the time to comment...much appreciated!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoy still life and will use some of what you've spoken about in my work. Love the light you achieve.

  3. Congratulations, Cindy! I love your work and those sumptuous Renior edges.

  4. Thank you very much for your nice words Dawn! And thank you Nancy, love that compliment! So generous...

  5. I always loved your work Cindy. When I open Daily paintworks every day, I look for your work along with Carol Marine, Edward Gordon and Taryn Day.

    Congratulations to you!

  6. Wow Padmini! I'm so flattered! Love Carol, Edward and Taryn's work. Thank you...Happy Painting!