Thursday, August 8, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Pamela Harnois

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

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

From Pamela's DPW Gallery page:

I grew up on Cape Cod and I have been an artist all my life. After studying art and design during college, I moved to Boston, Chicago and now Los Angeles. I have worked as a creative director and graphic designer for over 20 years. During that time in my career, I always continued to paint in oils and watercolor.

My body of work is quite diverse and eclectic in subject matter. I have a deep affinity for watercolor and oil painting; these days I am mostly painting landscapes, ocean views, striking architecture and nature as well as still life and animal subjects.

I have taught all levels of art students -- from beginner to advanced -- and love to teach and mentor other artists. In 2006, I began exhibiting in more art shows and continue to this day. I do commission work and recently did some work for clients in the Los Angeles and New England areas.

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a look. Please follow my blog at or on Facebook at to receive information on my workshops, art shows and Etsy sales!

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in art. I remember my mother taking art lessons when I was seven and she got me a standing easel that I had in my bedroom. I just knew from that moment on my future was in the visual arts. I started taking my art more seriously during junior high and high school. I began to participate in local and state art shows. I then took design and art classes in college and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a Fine Arts degree in painting.

Aqua Sugar Bowl
(click to see original image)

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

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

I certainly did. After college I found work as a graphic designer in the food and entertainment industries. I had to focus on my main career as a graphic designer but used my weekends to paint whenever I could. Somewhere in between my work commitments I found time to teach painting, and that continues to this day. My desire to draw, paint and teach never went away and became much more prominent as I was winding down my graphic design career.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I've experimented with many different kinds of art mediums. Everything from ceramics, jewelry making, wood, mixed-media, acrylics, watercolor, oil painting, pastels, and drawing - but I always come back to watercolor and oil painting.

Clad in a Facade of Aqua
(click to see original image)
Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Watercolor. It has to be watercolor. I love water and paint and I love how it mixes and turns all over the place. Over the years, I have learned how to control it and work with it; I love the fluidity and what it does on paper. Watercolor is still so natural for me and I've gotten a lot more confident. I like what I produce, and I get good response to my work. Finally, I like that I can work fast with watercolor.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am always looking to explore different mediums -- particular the ones I can combine with watercolor. I've been doing a lot of watercolor with pastels. Also, I'm trying watercolor on different substrates. For instance, the mixed-media canvases are lots of fun. I like experimenting with layering washes on top of washes -- to get a much more translucent look. I am experimenting in doing more loose type of painting. I'm also fascinated by Chinese watercolor painting and have been exploring more in that style. The Chinese brushes hold water differently, and are painted onto different papers. The saturation of the paint on the paper is something I find very challenging at this point. I've also been teaching more and mentoring art students, and find that I have a lot to share with artists -- all the valuable techniques that I've learned over time.

Old Green
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

I get my inspiration from so many sources -- from music, life, nature -- pretty much everything around me. Lately I'm very inspired by my kitchen. I get a lot of inspiration from American vintage objects and kitchenware. We love traveling on the East Coast and all over California as well. I like seeing the northeast woods and the California hillsides are very inspirational. Also, California impressionist painters, with their beautiful color palettes and how they captured light so beautifully.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I am actually very focused on my goal setting and usually have my yearly creative goals planned out by the end of January. In addition to several galleries, I'm part of a goal setting group and that really keeps me moving forward every day.

Gala Apples
(click to see original image)

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

I make a conscious effort to always have projects pinned on my large creative bulletin board, which is above my desk and next to my drafting table in my studio. Sometimes as I get ideas I will pin them on the bulletin board so that I can look at each piece of artwork and think about them. They may be in either sketch form or defined as a project that I will be working on soon. That allows ideas to gel before I actually put them on paper. My motto: stay off television and in general I limit my time on the internet to less than an hour per day.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

My ideas pretty much come from everyday life. Things that I see that move me emotionally and make me want to explore something that catches my personal interest. It may be something that I think other people might also enjoy, and sometimes I want to deliver a message through it.

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

That's actually a really good question. I try to keep my schedule balanced, with work, working on my art, exercise, meditation, and relaxation, which are as important as working on my various art projects.

(click to see original image)

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

I am learning that the most important thing about being an artist is building relationships with other artists and to be part of an artistic and creative community. Learning to just get out there and express myself as an artist through my work and through dealing with the general public about my art. I'm working harder at creating my own style of painting that is unique and building off of styles of other artists by whom I am inspired.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I love the entire creative process: conceptualizing, contemplating, planning, creating and painting the art. I love how creating art makes me feel, as if I'm not really here. I'm so busy trying to focus on composition and color and tone that I get swept away. Those moments are something like mindful meditation -- very similar to when I play tennis or another sport. I can be in the moment and I'm not thinking about anything else except painting. All I'm thinking about is composition, color, design and three general tones. It becomes a part of me, and I become a part of it.

Thanks, Pamela!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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