Thursday, July 11, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Guenevere Schwien

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

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

From Guenevere's DPW Gallery page:

Over the last decade, I started to become known for my large photoreal motorcycle paintings for which I have won awards and honors. While I still love them and have not abandoned them, a new direction has emerged since the death of my father. As I started to change and grow from this event, I started to become more attracted to softer subjects that warm my heart. I more than ever have the desire to care for and indulge my inner child and have started painting things that appeal to her. Here on Daily Paintworks, I will be showcasing my tulips and other girlhood inspirations I come across on my new journey. I am also keeping a regular blog to express my thoughts and feelings about these paintings.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Ever since 2nd grade, I had wanted to be an artist. We had a watercolor artist come in and do a demo and then we got to try it. I always thought it must be the best job in the world to make pictures for a living. Through school I took art classes whenever they were available. I actually became very inspired by sculpture in high school, but I also had some successes with gouache and pencil. I never actually started painting with oils until college. I have been hooked ever since.

(click to see original image)

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

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

I haven't fully stopped but over the past few years things slowed down for me. There were several events culminating in a hibernation period and personal journey that needed to happen. In January of 2010, I developed severe tendonitis in my rotator cuff of my painting arm (right) do to over working. I had been working extremely photoreal on dessert paintings and my body was telling me to stop. This compounded with the death of my Dad and a failing relationship brought about a darkness in my life. I started to question my career path and realized that the level of photorealism I was striving for was not working for my body. During my recovery from tendonitis, I had my arm in a sling and couldn't use it at all. It killed me not to paint. During this time, I actually started painting with my left hand. I took this opportunity to explore other subjects and styles. This takes us to your next question.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I had never used watercolor before. In college I had tried many things but never watercolor. So I decided to give it a shot since I had nothing to lose and because I couldn't work anyway. I also created a pseudonym to produce this work under. I did this because I had become known as the Moto Painter. My photoreal motorcycle oil paintings differed greatly from my new exploration. These new watercolors of cupcakes brought me joy and renewed inspiration. You can view them at It was a fun side project and I think it gave me some perspective. As the darkness began to subside and my body became whole again (thanks mostly due to the addition of yoga to my life), I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted from my career.

Spring Linens
(click to see original image)

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

Part of what "stuck" for me in the cupcakes was the color. I have always had a bold palette and this became very clear to me that I wanted to continue with this and also with subjects that are light hearted and fun. Thus I happened up on tulips. Also even though my current work is not photoreal I would say that that is not entirely gone from my work. I don't think I will ever shake a level of realism from my work, but I do like to have areas of softer focus in a composition. As for mediums, I am hooked on oil. I will never stop using it. I did enjoy the different method of watercolors as well as portability and easy clean up. I am sure I will continue to dable with watercolor but oils are my main addiction.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Tulips are still new for me and I have been enjoying them greatly. One thing I have learned about my inner child is that she gets bored once I feel I have mastered a subject. So I intend to keep exploring. The couple bow paintings I have done are my next area of exploration, as well as possibly revisiting cupcakes only in oil this time. As for other mediums, if I could have my way, I might get back into sculpture or screen printing. In my brief visits with those mediums, I excelled and enjoyed them both tremendously.

Who or what inspires you most?

I'd have to say other artists. There are so many great artists out there these days. I love discovering new artists and appreciating their work. But once I'm in the studio, color and composition are by far my greatest inspirations. I love designing new paintings and then once I'm painting it the colors keep me going.

Pig Tail
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

My social life. One thing I miss most about college is being in a room with other artists, all working on our own paintings. I loved being around other artists. I currently have my own studio and thus am alone all day. When I clock out for the night I can't wait to be with people. Most times this means I end up taking a day off from paintings to go recreate and socialize. Sometimes one day turns into three.

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

I live alone and have my studio at home so when I'm not out being social, my studio calls to me. When I come into my studio, it does take a little time to settle in and get down to business. I find that looking is key. If I'm having a hard time getting to work on a painting I've already started, I will sit and look at it for a while. After only a few minutes, I see areas I need to work on or things that need to change and so on. I also try to make deadlines for myself or production goals. Keeping my eye on a calendar helps a lot. I might take three days off to go out and play but then I make sure to have three days in the studio. I find that setting aside blocks like this works well for me. I like to play hard and work hard so alternating keeps me balanced.

Torch Light
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I work from photos so I will sift through my vast collection until something catches my eye. Lately with my blog I have been using my emotions or what is going on in my life to spark a composition. It might be a color or even a shape that lends itself to my feeling so I will go with that and use it.

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

This is a tricky one. I honestly can't say that I have an answer. I think changing subjects is going to be important for me going forward. I know my motorcycle audience doesn't want to hear that, but if I don't feel a connection to my subject I really can't paint it. Also, as my favorite teacher in college Carolyn Meyer used to say, "sometimes you gotta make some dogs." Not every paintings is going to be as vibrant or engaging as the next. But it is all subjective. I have had paintings I wasn't thrilled about and a client falls in love with it, so you just never know.

(click to see original image)

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

I am learning about shadows and texture. The tulips are pretty different from the metal pipes and gas tanks I'm used to painting. The color of the shadows and the way the light plays across the petals has been a new challenge. Getting the tint and shade of the shadows just right is going to keep me learning for a while.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Hmm... Good question. I think it is the zone; when I get lost in painting. I often find that hours have slipped by unnoticed. It's almost as if I go into a trance. I come to and "look at that!" half my painting is done. When these blinks happen the feeling after is amazing. It is almost like a meditation. I feel content and fulfilled. I've had this through my whole career, and if for some reason I haven't been painting for a long stretch I start to get cranky and irritable, it's as if I need to get back to my meditations.

Thanks, Guenevere!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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