Thursday, June 5, 2014

DPW Spotlight Interview: Nicoletta Baumeister

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

To enter to win Nicoletta's painting, "My Little Bird" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Nicoletta's DPW Gallery page: 

I have had a full time studio practice for over thirty years, both painting and teaching drawing, watercolour and acrylic. My work has been exhibited in an extensive assortment of exhibitions and has garnered many awards to date. My work has evolved from photo realism to pure abstraction with the underlying pursuit of understanding perception. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

As a child, my entire household was always in a state of making something. My Father, an architect, taught us to draw very early, and my Mother was the most able person I know, capable of making anything. We spent our long northern winters making crafts for the church bazaar, clothes for ourselves and our stuffed toys, Christmas decorations for the house, the list is endless. Pursuing an education in art was a natural evolution.

My Little Bird
(click to see original image)

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

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

A few. I always kept painting, but in lesser volume. After university, for about four years I deviated from painting to learn and practice gold smithing. I have also run the office for a commercial company for about four years. I find I use much of what I learned about business from both experiences in my art practice and am thankful for the skills.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Hmm. I have foundations in fabric art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, wood carving, ceramics, design and the gold smithing. However, I would say my 'serious work' stems from my early love for complex graphite works composed of sixty hours or more of work. This activity morphed into painting in dry-brush watercolour over a period of about twenty years.

In 2002, I began working with acrylics and now, just this year, I am wrestling my way through oil. My overriding genre is realism, however, it is the concept of 'what is real' rather than the appearance of real which is at the heart of my investigations. I am supremely interested in the processes of perception, from how the senses work, to the brain functions, to making meaning, to the construction of visual and verbal languages, to communication and apprehension.

Camelia Study, Bold
(click to see original image)

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

All have 'stuck'. Each medium has unique properties that are best suited to express particular ideas, sensations, expressions. Nothing makes a mark as beautifully as graphite or ink. Watercolour is supreme at interpreting the luminous colour and depth of nature's surfaces. Acrylic is amazing at keeping it's consistency over large areas. Oil seems to be handy because of the duality of it's transparent and opaque pigments at creating depth in addition to revealing brushstrokes.

Add in the cultural and historical applications of the mediums and you have a whole other layer of meaning. For example fabric is intertwined with women's history while photography speaks intimately of time and place and photographers viewpoint. Each medium carries with it's own story and associations.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I would like to learn glass blowing. To have light, transparency, colour and form to play with! The ability to create, essentially on three different levels, the outer form, the inner form and then the whole! I imagine the potential for creating metaphorical meanings to be limitless with that many possibilities.

Gerbera Study Two
(click to see original image)

Who or what inspires you most?

Nature is overwhelmingly the most enduring reservoir of delight and wonder for the senses. She brings our senses to life. In humans, I could list an entire army of amazing 'mensch': artists, poets, philosophers, activists, leaders, housewives, workers, teenagers, small children. It is truest to say that I am inspired and awed by the moments when you are witness to a humans exercising their humanness; to be vulnerable and trusting, to acknowledge ignorance and be open to explore and question, to share and to receive, to love and be loved.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I prefer to call procrastination, cleaning up the small stuff so that the big stuff can happen. There is a lesson to be learned from the farmers who allow fields to lie fallow so that they can be refreshed for the following year of planting, we too need to leave space in our schedules. In fallow periods I do the 'winter work'; clean the studio, house and garden, answer neglected phone calls, tend to avoided business, pet the cats, gaze at the flowers and -- PRESTO! I am unencumbered and ready to go again.

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

I awarded art making the status of a regular job. My hours are from 9:30 to 5, 6, 7 or 8. Everything else is arranged around the studio hours. Phone and emails are handled before 9:00, at lunch, or in the evening after the studio. Dishes are done at the end of the day. Teaching and social things are slotted in after work, or on rare occasions after 3:00. My best hours are in the morning, so I truly try to hold the 9am to 1pm slot inviolate.

Lost and Found
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

As my work stems from questions about perception, all ideas are part of this continual theme. Each painting stems from the one before. There never is a shortage of ideas, just time. Whenever I am learning a new medium however, like this years pursuit of oil painting, I will fall back on observing nature. One always finds something new to learn in natural objects.

How do you keep art "fresh?"

Hmm. That is the question. Do we? Can we escape our own shadows? Studying historical artists and also myself, I see that we all tend to repeat ideas and themes that are set early in life. I suspect that our 'lens', the way we view our world, is set very early on and all else is just a permeation of the values, ethics and interests that are set in that early experience.

What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

It has been invaluable to understand myself and to develop compassion for my weaknesses. All work cannot be amazing, however all work is a part of your journey somewhere. I have some catch phrases for the moments of doubt, the moments when you realize your boat is in an eddy. Try to fail spectacularly! Play is vital. Aim for authenticity. Feel first, sort it out later.

Blossoms from the Farm
(click to see original image)

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

Most of my thinking these days is about how to support ART in our society. I am certain of the value it has had to my life and to those around me and I would like to do something to spread that around. I believe that our senses awaken us to being alive, they literally connect us to our world, natural and manmade. Music, dance, theatre, and visual art stimulate those same senses and provide information on who we are and what we are capable of.

This is vitally important as our technological world is exponentially increasing both the complexity and the speed in which that complexity is being launched at us. We suffer daily losses of entire cultures and languages which translate to massive loss of the diversity of responses to the environment which we once had. We also incur an accelerated divorce from the understanding of the natural world in which those cultures developed. Creativity is possibly the best tool that a human has to apprehend and respond to her/his environment. It is vital to our wellbeing.

What makes you happiest about your art?

That I am able to practice it.

Thanks, Nicoletta!

© 2014 Sophie Catalina Marine Cruse

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