Thursday, September 26, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Kristy Tracy

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

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

From Kristy's DPW Gallery page:

My mother used to say I was born with a box of crayons in my hand. I've been an artist all my life, quickly graduating from crayons to finger paints, then watercolor, acrylics, and oils. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee (with that box of crayons clutched tightly in my wee little fist), received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado in Boulder, lived and worked as an artist for the past 22 years in Palmer, Alaska, and recently transplanted to the delightful town of Prescott, Arizona. Wherever I live, I find inspiration for my art in the scenery, wildlife, history, and culture of my surroundings.

I'm a recent convert to daily painting. After many years of laboring over large, detailed paintings, trying to create what I thought others might like (with little success), I find painting smaller and quicker a very freeing way to paint. Now I paint for the sheer joy of the creative experience... kinda like back when crayons were my preferred medium.

I love color. I love movement. I love light. If I can combine those three things in a painting, I'm a happy painter.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My earliest memories include coloring books and finger painting. My parents recognized I had some talent, so when I was a teenager they enrolled me in classes with an internationally known Memphis artist, Paul Penczner, who taught me the old world approach to painting. I went on to earn a BFA from the University of Colorado. My art took a detour when I became a craft designer for several years. After moving to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska in 1989, I continued to do freelance design work while raising my family.

I was inspired to return to painting by the story books I read my little children before bedtime. I began creating whimsical watercolors of Alaskan animals doing Alaskan things. This morphed into a commissioned series of acrylic murals for a pediatric dentist office and, voila! I had found a niche I was comfortable with. After moving to Arizona in 2011, I had the opportunity to take a workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry and Leslie Saeta in Pasadena. That experience brought about a paradigm shift in my art. I switched to oils and began practicing a more painterly approach to my work. This is the vortex in which I now reside.

Pumpkin Patch
(click to see original image)

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

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

Sure. During one season of my life I got so burned out on large, intricate paintings that I didn't paint anything unless I had a commission for it. Now I paint almost every day, but life gets in the way sometimes, and a week or two (or three) will go by without a brush stroke. It's hard, because I tend to let painting take a back seat to family. And housework. And sleeping. And the dog.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I've used oils, watercolor, pen and ink, acrylics, pastels and graphite. I've done everything from large, realistic wall murals to spot illustration. I had some fun with abstract art in college, along with printmaking, jewelry making, and mosaics. I've done graphic design and illustration. Recently I've been experimenting with a more painterly, impressionistic style.

Pink Towel
(click to see original image)

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

As far as mediums go, my all-time favorite go-to's are oils, acrylics and watercolors. My early mentor, Paul Penczner, thought it important an artist should be able to draw and paint any subject the way it actually looked. Having served in the Hungarian army alongside the Nazis, he didn't seem to care that it was "The Seventies" and art was supposed to be open to interpretation. He rallied past my creative sensitivities to lay a solid foundation of Realism for me to build upon. To tell you the truth, I will always be grateful for that.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Actually, I'm helping organize the Great Alaska Plein Air Retreat in June 2014. I'm not really a plein air painter, so I'm basically jumping in with both feet. It's going to be a week-long event with a great group of featured artists and guest instructors. We're traveling from Vancouver, BC to Whittier, Alaska aboard the Island Princess with Princess Cruises, stopping along the way to paint. There is no sign-up limit, and it's open to non-artists, too, so it should be a wonderful chance to meet and paint and learn with other artists from all over the country. Here's a couple of links with more information:

Tally in the Snow
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

I like whimsical fantasy, such as the artists of the Golden Age of Illustration, especially N. C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham and Charles Robinson. My favorite subject matter is animals. And people. And animals acting like people. I 'm also enjoying exploring all things Arizona.

What does procrastination look like for you?

My dog.

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

Having a place where I can leave out whatever I'm working on makes all the difference between painting or putting it off. I don't have a studio, so I use a space in our family room downstairs . I keep all my art supplies on shelves within easy reach. I have a long workspace/desk where my latest project is always waiting. A great technique for me is a goal or a deadline. Right now I'm doing Leslie Saeta's 30-Paintings-in-30-Days Challenge. Also, selling a painting always inspires me to make time to paint.

Arizona Cottontail
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I draw a lot of inspiration from the human and the animal world. It's just more fun for me to paint something with a personality. I like to anthropomorphize animals (Say that fast 5 times!). In my imagination, a dog isn't just hanging out the window in the car next to me. He's wearing a fighter pilot helmet, scarf and goggles, pretending he's a World War I flying ace. Holidays inspire me. And the magical, whimsical, pretend world of children is a wonderful place to find ideas.

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

I keep art "fresh" by trying new subjects, new techniques, or new products. Painting with other artists whose work I admire always challenges and stretches me. Taking a workshop from a professional artist I admire is advantageous, too. I actually experienced a huge burnout about 3 years ago. After many years laboring over large, detailed paintings, trying to paint what other people would like or buy, I was ready to quit. Then I discovered the Daily Paintworks concept of painting quicker and smaller. It changed my whole approach to painting. Now I really enjoy painting. I'm less attached to my work because I don't take it so seriously. And I learn as much painting small as I did painting large, with less investment. It's a very freeing thing for someone like me who had burnout.

(click to see original image)

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

I'm trying to learn to control color and light better. And to loosen up and not be so tight. And how to market myself online.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Making other people happy.

Thanks, Kristy!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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