Friday, March 1, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Christopher Clark

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

To enter to win Christopher Clark's painting, "Lake Tahoe Stream," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Christopher's DPW Gallery page:
His travels, inspiration, and education have taken him all around the world, including Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, and Mexico. His award-winning paintings have been collected and shown in private and corporate collections around the world.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've been doing art my whole life since I was a kid. I used to watch Bob Ross on TV and mimic what he was doing, but with crayons.

Lake Tahoe Stream
(click here to see original image)

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

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

I have had periods of my life where I've focused on either art or music. For the longest time, I chose one or the other, for a few years at a time. Just over two years ago I made the decision to focus almost all my attention on my artwork, and have been pursuing it very passionately since then.

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?

When I started studying art seriously I began with mostly pencil, doing super-meticulous, photo-quality rendered drawings. I was kinda scared to do anything with color for a long time. I ventured forth into color using pastels and chalks, still clinging to the pencil-style art I was comfortable with.

I then made the decision to start painting in acrylics, which opened my world up to the versatility of the paint medium, and experimented a ton with mixed mediums and textures, painting on wood, etc. because you can pretty much paint on anything with acrylic. I finally settled on the more classical approach of oil on canvas, as I started studying old masters and so many of their timeless techniques, and this is my current preferred medium. I do still like to do value studies and sketching in charcoal.

Golden Hay
(click here to see original image)

Many of your paintings are suffused with "the golden hour" light of sunset or sunrise. What can you tell us about the kind of light you're drawn to painting and why?

It's my absolute favorite time of day. In fact, I have a secret fantasy to move to the northern Netherlands or something where during some seasons it's like that 24 hours a day (and I'm moving to Europe this summer, so that fantasy may not be too far fetched).

I think everything looks better during that time of day, as the sun is low and its warm, orange light shines through everything and makes the world translucent. The leaves on a tree glow the most gorgeous green, a grassy field becomes full of dazzling light, and a girl's hair is a halo of gold. Everything looks so magical at that time of day, and I just can't capture it enough. I'll oftentimes add that lighting to my subject even if it isn't there when I'm painting it.

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

Procrastination comes in the form of being drawn to my other passions in life: playing music (I play guitar and sing), and dancing (I do vintage dances from the 1920s and 30s - Jitterbug / Lindy Hop / Swing / Charleston / etc). I'm always torn between these other forms of art, that I don't always get to focus on my painting as much as I'd like. The only way I ensure that I make time for my art is if I choose to stay home and do it, and not go out dancing, or not pick up my guitar and practice all night. But it's a very endearing battle, because I love all of them so much.

The Big Apple
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I really try to paint things that I see in my daily life, or that I've seen during my travels. I take tons of photos with my phone whenever I'm out somewhere, and sometimes the most random pictures that I snapped from my car window on the freeway become my most popular paintings (not the safest form of artistic expression, I'm sure).

I do love painting places that I've traveled to, because it allows me to relive those beautiful, exotic places again, and share those travels with other people. The most common place I paint is Italy. I've spent time there in the past, and I will be moving there this summer, so expect lots more Italy paintings in the near future. And I can't deny it, people freakin' love paintings of Italy, so it works well for both me and my customers.

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

I only paint things that I love. I had a brief stint in the decor art market, and I can't tell you how fast I got burned out on the idea of painting the same dull poppies or chrysanthemums, or doing the same boring typography designs of the words "Love," "Hope," "Friends," "Laughter," etc. Blech. I still have a connection with the decor market, but I now only supply them with paintings that I love, like landscapes or people or anything else that I get really involved in.

Florence, Italy - The House Next Door
(click here to see original image)

I recommend going out into the world and finding what makes your heart sing, and painting that. Don't paint from other people's photos, don't paint what you think people will buy, but only paint what you love. Because only then will you love to paint it, and only then will people buy it.

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

I'm studying technique as much as possible. Devouring everything written by Andrew Loomis and Richard Schmid, watching every video by Johnnie Liliedahl and Zaoming Whu, etc. I recently took a semester of workshops from Vadim Zanginian in LA. I feel like I do possess a lot of natural spirit for painting, but learning sound technique is the only way to truly have control over every brushstroke you ever make.

Drawing, values, color, edges, composition, linear perspective, aerial perspective, anatomy, color theory, light behavior, shadows... These things have become invaluable to me as an emerging professional artist trying to set myself apart from the ocean of other artists out there. And they will ultimately enable me to most effectively communicate my feelings through my paintings. Rather than stifle or hinder the creative forces as many artists would feel, it sets you free in unimaginable ways to successfully tackle any painting you can envision.

Castelfranco, Florence, Italy VII(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I have to admit, I'm happy that I'm pretty decent at it (and I hope I don't ever think I'm "great" at it, then I'll have a personal problem). When I have a vision in my head, I'm very confident I can bring it to life in a painting. My art makes people happy, and that makes me happy. Plus I do actually sell paintings, which is a great bonus, I can't deny. But ultimately, it makes me happiest when people look at my art and feel spoken to.

Thanks, Christopher!

© 2013 Jennifer Newcomb Marine