Thursday, August 15, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Peter Mathios

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

To enter to win Peter's painting, "Chestnut-backed Chickadee" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From Peter's DPW Gallery page:

My passion, which started early in life, is creating paintings of wild animals in their natural habitat. For me the best part of being a professional artist is spending time in the field, studying and observing birds and animals. We live in such an amazing world, I just want to soak in as much as possible and share it with others through my paintings.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I actually didn't start painting until I was in college at UC Davis and had to take painting classes for my major. While growing up, I had always drawn in pencil and filled sketchbooks of pictures that I would copy or of scenes that I created. Most of them were wildlife related because I loved to hunt and I drew to replace not being out in nature - drawing was an escape. My paintings in college were mostly realistic but I did experiment with some abstract expressionism for quite a few assignments. My professors weren't thrilled that I always leaned toward realism though. One even suggested that I should transfer schools and pursue a design degree.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee
(click to see original image)

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

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

Yes! I have always known that I have wanted to be an artist and have always focused on that goal having painted since college. I worked at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort immediately after school and sold my first painting to an employee at the resort. I met my wife at the resort and we moved to the Willamette Valley so she could finish her schooling at Oregon State. I tried painting full time for about a year then, but had to find a job because she got pregnant at that time. I went into teaching art, PE and coaching the varsity baseball team at a local high school for five years then left to pursue my art career full time again. I have been painting full time since (8 years) but it has been up and down.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I think I have pretty much used every 2D media under the sun! And, I paint just about everything you can experience in nature be it landscape, wildlife, people and pets in nature, florals, etc. Basically, if I see something inspiring, it is a possibility.

Rainbow Lake
(click to see original image)

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

Water is always a favorite... Birds, wild animals, and landscapes. I've never had a particular interest in still life although I can't explain why. I certainly enjoy looking at still life that is painted well though.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am looking forward to exploring more landscapes and maybe not just the larger landscape but some that are small pieces of nature like the base of a tree or part of a wave or a leaf floating in the water. I always enjoy seeing birds and painting the birds that I see so I am looking forward to getting out and getting some ideas. They always surprise me!

Misty Solace
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

Contemporary realistic artists inspire me the most. Robert Bateman, Carl Brenders, Clyde Aspevig, Dan Smith, the list can go on forever and I am always looking at work currently being done. When I participate in shows like Birds in Art ( or the Waterfowl Festival ( and see the work of the artists in the shows, I always go home super-inspired!

What does procrastination look like for you?

Lol! Checking out sports on the computer.

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

I try to have set hours from 9-3 during the school year and earlier in the morning during summer but summer vacation complicates things so sometimes I paint at night too.

High Desert Dreams
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I spend as much time outdoors as I can. I love to hike, mountain bike, ski, fish, hunt, and camp. Most of my ideas come during those times. Also when I travel to shows I go out every morning and take pictures. Show locations generally will have wildlife areas nearby. Sometimes I travel to national parks.

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

I always look to nature. Nothing is ever the same. No bird or animal will ever be in the same pose and even within species there is individual variation. Light is always changing objects too. Whether it's sunny or cloudy or early, mid-day, or late, things are never the same - everything is in a constant state of change. When I paint outdoors 'en plein air', it always amazes me how different the landscape looks from the time I started the painting.

Cactus Wren
(click to see original image)

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

How hard it is to capture subtleties. For example if looking at a green coffee cup, which I am doing right now, not one quarter of an inch is the same color as the next. The shadows, reflections off the porcelain and the direction of the lighting sources all create many, many shades of green that in a painting would give the illusion of form. Capturing those nuances is what I have been working on. It's an ongoing process and I have a lot to learn! One of the most rewarding things as a painter is successfully capturing a nuance that others may not see but you as an artist know lends to the success of a painting. That is a hard thing to do though! The Mona Lisa is a perfect example of a portrait full of nuance.

What makes you happiest about your art?

After all of the work, emotion, struggle, and time that goes into completing a painting - what makes me happiest is when somebody likes the painting enough to spend their hard earned money on it. And, knowing that the painting will be enjoyed for a lifetime - that is the ultimate compliment! I did a hunting dog portrait for a guy and over time that portrait grew in value. At first, it was of his dog that he hunts with. Then when his dog passed away it represented all of the good times he spent doing something he loved with his dog. When he himself is unable to hunt that painting will have even more meaning and someday, his kids will see the painting as something their dad loved to do. Art has an intrinsic value that grows over time and when you hear a story like that - a painting becomes much more than what it originally started as... That makes me happiest.

Thanks, Peter!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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