Thursday, May 16, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Cathy Engberg

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

To enter to win Cathy's painting, "Morning Joe" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Cathy's DPW Gallery page:

My name is Cathy Engberg and I currently live in the Chicagoland area, painting a slice of everyday
life 'almost' everyday. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember, and being good at it was something I was proud of as a child. As I got older this translated into the love of painting and I’ve had the honor of working with some great teachers.

My artistic path has not been a straight one. There have been a many detours along the way. After 11
years in corporate web development I have once again started to follow my original dream in fine art. As of December 2011 I am painting full time and loving every minute of it.

I have been inspired by many of the masters. I am also inspired by today’s Daily Painters. Working small and often makes complete sense to me and I see my work evolving. I try to post several times a week on my blog “Color Notes” which shows my journey.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've always had this dream, ever since I was a child, that I was standing at an easel painting a figure. I remember painting each stroke in the dream. I still have similar dreams. I drew a lot as a child. My mother encouraged each of us kids to have a sketch pad and draw during rainy days and on long trips. It wasn't until I was in my mid-30's that I had a chance to take some formal courses in drawing, color and design, oils and watercolor. After my first class, I was immediately hooked and I kept signing up for others. My love for oil painting started during this time.

Morning Joe
(click to see original painting)

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

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

Yes. In the 90's when I was in school, I was not exposed to much direction on how to take your art to the next level and make a living. While I was taking the art courses at the local college, I noticed that some new classes were being offered in a strange new thing called HTML. That's when I started to get involved with computer art, HTML, CSS, JavaScript. I discovered I could earn a paycheck in that field and all my focus went to that for the following 11 years. My major creative outlet during those 11 years was learning photography.

Then I noticed all the incredible paintings that people where selling online. I was so thrilled to see people making it work. I was especially drawn to the daily painters Carol Marine and Karin Jurick. I credit them for inspiring me to come back to what I wanted to do since I was a child.

Mad Dash
(click to see original painting)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I've always been creative even when I wasn't drawing or painting. I enjoyed fiber art and had a rug loom at one time. I would weave rugs and sculpt baskets from collected woods and fibers, and then sell them at local art/craft fairs when my children were small. I've experimented with pencil, charcoal, conte, ink, pastel, oils, and watercolor. More recently, I have found quilting to be another creative outlet that I can do in the evenings. It lets me play with color and contrast which I love so much in painting.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Oil is definitely my favorite. I still quilt in the evening and I'll use pencil & charcoal for sketching. I'm still playing with photography because it is related to my paintings. I never thought my photos were complete. I always felt they needed to be painted.

Scratch & Peck
(click to see original painting)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I'm pretty focused on oil painting right now. I just went to the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute this last weekend and he had done some clay tiles that started a small spark in me. It involved carving through layers of color to develop a design. Hmmm...

Who/what inspires you most?

Color and contrast attract me first. I like to paint happy moments in life, a sip of coffee, or someone relaxing in the sun. My art doesn't have a hidden meaning. It's all about shape and feel.

I'm inspired by many many artists. The list grows every day.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I'm very self motivated. I can get myself into the studio on most days. I found that if I plan my paintings too far in advance then I tend to drag my feet starting them. But if I choose my image on the day I paint it, I'm gold.

(click to see original painting)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I found it close to impossible to be creative and paint while I was still doing web development. All I could think about was painting so I ended up taking in less and less web work so that I could go into painting full time. I set goals each year and modify them throughout the year depending on how things are going. So far, it's been working well.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Since I'm interested in everyday moments, ideas are everywhere. I'm living an everyday life! I have my camera with me most times. I use 2 cameras. One is small so it's easier to be subtle while taking photos. The other is larger and allows me to snap quickly and zoom from long distances.

Topsy Turvy
(click to see original painting)

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

I change my painting subjects often. I enter online challenges like the ones on Daily Paintworks. I've also created my own personal challenges on my blog. I finished one recently called The Portrait Project. Choosing the image I paint on the day I paint it keeps things fresh and impromptu.

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

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. It's my mantra. I tend to get too fussy. I'm always working on this. I'm also working on design. One of my favorite parts of the Picasso exhibit was studying his sketches. He would draw the same motifs over and over and would modify the subject into better design elements. Better shapes. I think this is key to successful composition. Which is a lesson I'll be practicing for a looooong time.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Once in a while, and it doesn't happen on all paintings for me, I hit the absolutely correct value and color and drop it into the shadow. The shadow almost disappears. Happiness is in the shadows for me. This is what I love.

Thanks, Cathy!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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