Thursday, January 16, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Pamela Gatens

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, "Meow's New Muffler" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing her interview.

From Pamela's DPW Gallery page:

Pamela Gatens is an artist in the impressionist style. Working in acrylic and watercolor, she is a prolific painter and entertaining teacher. Pamela is also a Signature Member of the West Virginia Watercolor Society. She sells her work at The Greenbrier Hotel & Resort, online, and at Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia. Her line of cat and floral cards have been best sellers for years. Pamela lives in Hillsboro, West Virginia with her husband Pat, dog Barker, and cats Pokey and Mack.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I can't remember a time when I didn't have a crayon or pencil or paintbrush in my hand. I come from a family of creative people, so art was a natural way of life for us. My early working career was in typesetting and graphic art. My first job in high school was at a little newspaper in Dallas, where the owner taught me to set type on little strips of photographic paper and then do a "paste-up" of the newspaper page. It was probably a good lesson in painting composition, I just didn't know it.

Every job I held after that was related in some way to graphic art, design or printing. My husband and I owned a graphic design business in California for almost twenty years. When we moved to West Virginia eleven years ago, I said I would start painting "seriously" - and I did.

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

We were always so busy with our business in Los Angeles, my painting times were extremely limited. But since moving to West Virginia I've been painting steadily through thick and thin!

Meow's New Muffler
(click to see original image)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I paint now in watercolor and acrylic, mostly acrylic on canvas. I have tried oils and dabbled in mixed media including some pastel work. And if we go back a little ways, there was stained glass, ceramics, sculpture, teddybear making, lampworking, jewelry making, scroll sawing, knitting, yarn dyeing and spinning, soapmaking, fabric dyeing, and of course, sewing. I always threatened my husband that I would take up welding if he wasn't careful! Subject matter has always been cats, flowers and abstracts for me.

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

I don't know why it took me so long to settle on painting, but I am definitely hooked on water media with no chance of rehab! My kiln and wheel, along with my glass and torch have sat idle now for some time, as has the sewing machine and bottles of dye.

Prairie Petals
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I'll stick with acrylics for now. Oils have been waiting in the wings for some time, eventually I'm sure they will come into play. I also have interest in combining crayons with poured fluid acrylics and acrylic inks in my abstracts. I really want to explore larger abstract works and the figure.

Who or what inspires you most?

I love color, and take great delight in using lots of it. That's where it always starts with me. Both watercolor and acrylic are very spontaneous mediums and I love the randomness of it all. Impressionism is high on my list, as is Abstract Expressionism. I really get a thrill out of a nicely placed brushstroke on the canvas. I am constantly looking for and thinking about new color combinations, and how they can be applied to a new painting subject. Cats, too, are always in the back of my mind, tempting me to paint yet another one!

Silver Soft
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I win the prize when it comes to procrastination. From birth, I have just been the worst! My entire working career was in a deadline oriented business, which meant that everything was time sensitive. I have been accused of waiting until the last minute for everything, then seeing how fast I could get it done. Never a dull moment around our house!

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

I paint everyday, or at least I spend very few days without wet paint on canvas. Living out in the country in West Virginia is the perfect place to concentrate on painting. No neighbors, only the bears and the birds. I try to minimize my online time, which is hard since it is my main source of study and research.

I'm a morning person, so I try to paint first thing. I have learned that if the painting mood strikes, I'd better answer it and get in front of the canvas fast - no matter what time it is. Late afternoons and evenings are for the computer and reading or watching my painting videos for the umpteenth time. My sweet husband is long suffering when it comes to housework and will eat most anything I find the time to cook!

Heather and Heath
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Cats come easily - people are always emailing me photos of their cats, so reference material is never lacking. I never get tired of looking at cat photos. Florals, which I love to paint, are either from life or a conglomeration of different bouquets - mixed bouquets being my all time favorite to paint. I daydream a lot about painting, so I try to channel my "meditation" into imaginary paintings.

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

I read and study a lot. If I can't figure out how to do something, I spend the time to find out what it is I'm doing wrong, or NOT doing in most cases. Everyone has their own funny little techniques - and I love to read interesting blog posts and books on others' techniques. Being self taught is an ongoing challenge - you become both teacher and student. I also challenge myself to find new paint mixtures from a limited palette. Color needs unending study, and is my favorite subject. The best advice I ever read was "find what you do well, then do it better."

Stripes and Strokes
(click to see original image)

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

I always think I've finally settled on my "forever" palette, then discover I must tweak one of my blues to a different one, or eliminate a color because it no longer works in my color schemes. And I am reminded everyday how far I have to go in my art journey, as corny as that sounds!

What makes you happiest about your art?

My colorful paintings come from the true happiness I feel in front of the easel. There is nothing I would rather do than paint - so I guess it's just the actual process that makes me the happiest. They say if you can lose yourself in something, lose track of time and enter your own world, you should stick with it. That's what painting is for me. It also makes me happy to see the light in people's eyes when they see one of my cat paintings.

Thanks, Pamela!

© 2014 Sophie Marine

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