Thursday, July 25, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Janis McCarty

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

To enter to win Janis' painting, "A Good Year for Turquoise" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Janis' DPW Gallery page:

am an artist and a high school art teacher. I have a fine arts degree and have studied with many artists over the years including Carol Marine, Camille Prezwodek, Frank Webb, and Mary Hetherington. Although I am not a full time painter, I am a full time artist, teaching, analyzing, and discussing art every day with the young women I teach. I paint in oils and watercolor and am most inspired by things that evoke memories like houses, cars, and places I have visited.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have thought of myself an artist since my second grade teacher took my drawing from class to class, bragging on my skills and abilities. Also my mother was a wonderful encourager and was very proud of my talent. Later I majored in art at the University of Memphis and became a high school art teacher. After college I took painting classes off and on for years. I wanted to master watercolor, but life got in the way - marriage, family, working. Finally after my children were older and I was living in Texas, I found a wonderful teacher in San Antonio, Mary Hetherington, who was the painting teacher I had always wanted and needed. She gave me the skills and confidence I needed to paint full time, sell my work, and enter contests.

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

Boy, did I? I tried so many times after college to learn to paint beyond what I had learned in from my professors. But like I mentioned before, life happened, and my priorities were family and home. I lacked confidence and was filled with too many fears and uncertainties. When my children were in high school, I finally made the time to get serious about painting and tried to approach it as a career. In Texas I showed my work in galleries and in art shows for several years. But in 1999, my husband's career took a turn and we moved back to Memphis, our home town. I went back to work as a teacher and had to put the painting on the back burner. But the passion was there, and I eventually found the time and the energy to balance teaching high school art and making my own art. I also found myself wanting to move from watercolor to oil. So, once again, I found a teacher and I fell in love with oil, the richness of the color, the feel of the paint, and the forgiving nature of the medium. Also, the advent of blogs and the Internet brought me inspiration, encouragement, and instruction that I never had before.

A Good Year for Turquoise
(click to see original image)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Watercolor was my one and only for a very long time. Even though I paint with oils now, I do paint with watercolor occasionally. As a high school art teacher, I have to know and understand many mediums and techniques. So I feel like a Jack of all trades, and a master of a few. It is fun to work with my students in all of the mediums that are part of my curriculum - printmaking, charcoal, conte, scratchboard, pastels, colored pencil, acrylic. They all have that one favorite medium that inspires them and motivates them. Aren´t we all like that?

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

Oil paint and watercolor of course. And I love to draw with graphite pencils.

Fins Were In
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I have done some work in colored pencil and loved it. I know that there is some serious work with colored pencil in my future. AND don´t even get me started about altered books. I have one planned and the pages in the book are already marked and ideas written down. I wish I had time to tell you about the altered books my students do- pages that are filled with paintings and NOT collage. It is one of the ways my students learn to master acrylic. I have never created an altered book myself so I am going to try to meet the same project deadlines that I give my students this school year.

Who or what inspires you most?

My students inspire me every day. The work that they do is amazing, fresh, and fun. They also encourage me as much as I encourage them. They sometimes challenge me and give me deadlines to meet and hold my feet to the fire to meet those deadlines. They think that all of my artwork is wonderful so that raises the bar for me! I teach in an all girls school and have a close relationship with my students.

Carol Marine also has a been a huge inspiration. I have been fortunate enough to take two of her workshops in Texas. Although I don´t consider myself a still life artist, her technique, her approach, and her story as an artist, and especially her blog, have made me wish that I could paint every day. I love how she finds ordinary objects and gives them drama, importance, and a story. It is amazing what she can do with 36 square inches.

Very Vespa
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

It looks like a daily calendar to me. I fight that beast each and every day when it comes to painting. But I find that when I MAKE myself paint I can work through those excuses and create a momentum that can carry me along for quite awhile.

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

Because I have a full time job for 9 months out of the year, I have to plan for time to paint. I´m an early riser so I sometimes start painting early in the morning, before I have time to consider my to do list. Also, I often just have to decide that painting is more important to me at that time than the everyday mundane tasks of daily life. So what if don´t load the dishwasher or clean that bathroom? I´ve also realized that my husband is more than willing to do some of those things when I want to paint.

Shark Week
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I look at a lot of art every day, at school and on my own. (I spend too much time on the Internet.) I know that I often get ideas from the artwork of others. I don´t necessarily think that is a bad thing. As artists, we always give our work our "own voice." I also love to paint things that evoke memories for me - a way of life, a car, a house, a place I have visited.

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

I don´t really experience burnout. I fight for time to paint and cherish every moment that I have behind the paint brush. If I were a daily painter or a full time painter, I´m sure it would be an issue. I do take LOTS of photos - a few of them are of my family, but hundreds of them are of things that I might want to paint someday. Also the fresh, deliberate techniques I learned from Carol Marine have improved my ability to finish a painting in a timely manner. I find that using her approach frees me up from overworking and trying to put in ever tiny detail. I´m not exhausted and discouraged by trying to solve unnecessary problems.

1957 BelAir
(click to see original image)

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

I´m learning to paint for myself and not anyone or anything else. That feels very, very good.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am just happy when I make art. I don´t have a lot of the angst that other artists do. Maybe the angst makes you a better artist, but I get an adrenaline rush when I am finished with a painting. Feels like Christmas morning. I have a great deal of gratitude about the talent God has given me. I did nothing to deserve it and it brings me and others a lot of pleasure.

Thanks, Janis!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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