Thursday, February 6, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Peter Lee

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, "Chilling Out #2" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From Peter's DPW Gallery page:

I'm a full-time artist specialized in oil. I try not to limit my subject matters, entertaining myself with different challenges. I can't imagine my life without painting. "I create to survive and survive to create." Most of my paintings are for sale. For more info: email me at

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Probably, most people go all the way back to their toddler era for this question, and I'm not an exception. To my memory, I painted first when I was four, and it was a mural on the wall in my room with crayons. More serious painting started when I was in junior high - I loved watercolor then. And as I moved to high school, I spent more time on watercolor, getting some recognitions from my teachers and regional competitions.

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

After graduating from high school, I shifted my focus on "getting a job and making money". So I chose an engineer as my career, receiving my degree in a university and working in a company. And my interest in painting seems to become a distant memory in the deep bottom of my head. Then one day after many years, I was browsing in a bookstore, and I could not leave my eyes off an image of a watercolor painting on an art magazine. Suddenly, my long forgotten passion for watercolor came back like magic, and soon I found myself painting watercolor whenever I had free time.

Chilling Out #2
(click to see original image)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

After spending considerable time of my early life on watercolor, I was getting little bored with painting on paper. So past ten years, I've been exploring canvas painting medium such as oil and acrylic. I prefer oil for its warmth, flexibility and richness. I have been trying many different genres - still life, landscapes, figures and portraits, etc. I've been attracted to cityscapes recently since I would like to capture slices of "real life" happening around me.

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

I am not into making "Hallmark card-like" paintings whether they are flowers, still lives or landscapes. Usually they are too pretty or too cute to my taste. I also don't feel to follow Thomas Kinkade's style - sorry, Thomas. it's just too commercial-looking to me. I'm also not so inclined to "photo-realistic" painting style - we have a camera (and now iphone) for it. I would like to develop into more "painterly" style, showing some bold brushstrokes such as works by many impressionists, some modern expressionists, and contemporaries like Jennifer McChristian, Tibor Nagy, and Carol Marine.

The Corner Cafe
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Although I'm open to all different styles and genres, at this moment, I am more focused on painting cityscapes in oil with more impressionistic style. I don't have any set of rules, and I try not to limit myself to certain boundaries. I'll just let my "creative juice" to flow and see what happens. And more importantly, I would like to enjoy myself while exploring all the possibilities rather than torturing myself to produce "perfect" masterpieces to please other people.

Who or what inspires you most?

As I mentioned earlier, works with more painterly style and bold brushstrokes appeal to me the most. But regardless of mediums, styles or genres, artists never fail to grab my attention as long as I see and feel their "hearts" in their paintings.

Pasta for Dinner
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Joining Daily Paintworks has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life since it gives me enough pressure and motivation to keep myself painting as much and as often as I can. I see some artists keep uploading their works on a daily basis, matching to the name and intention of this site. I just admire their dedication and commitment. Somehow, I spend quite a bit of time researching my subject matters, gathering reference photos, and pre-designing my paintings even before I physically touch my canvas. So I just can't make a painting overnight. But I keep wanting to upload and share my paintings as often as I can. Again, it's so great to have a vehicle like DPW where I can upload and show my paintings almost instantly so easy!

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

Receiving the DPW email containing the day's new paintings everyday works better than any technique for me. It's just a great reminder to wake up and paint each and everyday - setting aside certain hours for nothing else but just painting.

Squeezed Out One More Time
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Since I've been focusing on cityscape painting, everything I see everywhere I go is an idea for another painting. Nowadays it's so each to capture the moments with my smartphone camera. These snapshots are major source materials for my cityscape paintings.

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

Whenever I feel little bored or burnt out, I browse other artists' works including those on the DPW site. Then I feel refreshed and re-motivated, and I see my newly charged energy reflected on my painting.

The Swimmer
(click to see original image)

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

As an artist, I think I keep learning how to find a beauty that would been ignored without an artist's eye. I appreciate more of what I see around me. People walking on the street, waiting at the bus stop, reading a newspaper while drinking a coffee, or even cars jammed in traffic can be beautiful to my artist's eye. All of sudden, the whole world is just beautiful!

What makes you happiest about your art?

I feel happy as I paint. The sheer process of drawing lines, mixing colors, feeling the touch of my brush on the canvas, etc. make me happy. I also feel happy when my wife and daughter make compliments as they see my finished painting. Of course, when someone buys my painting, it makes me happy - not just for the money but for her/his recognition. They are all different kinds of happiness about my art, and each feeling is unique and hard to compare one another. I think what makes me happiest is the fact that I can spend my time creating something that I like. For this, I feel not only "happiest" but also "luckiest".

Thanks, Peter!

© 2014 Sophie Marine

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