Thursday, February 26, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Chris Breier

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

To enter to win Chris's painting, "The Village" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Chris's DPW gallery page:

From Buffalo New York. I work in acrylics in a variety of genres, both abstract and representational. (click to view bio)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've always been interested in art so there wasn't a specific moment when I decided that I was going to become a painter. I spent a lot of time drawing as a child and I never lost interest in it.

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

There was a period after college when I was trying to figure out what I could do to make a living and that didn't leave a lot of time for painting. I was learning about computers, graphic design, and the printing industry.

The Village
(click to see original image)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I've experimented with numerous mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pen and ink, and encaustic. The genres that I've worked in are abstraction, landscape, cityscape, figure drawing, and still life.

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

Acrylics are probably my favorite medium. They have their own unique look but they can also mimic many of the more traditional mediums such as oils or watercolors. The quick drying time of acrylics allow me to rapidly build up layers of color, and to easily paint over mistakes.

I worked with oils in college but I've found that I'm sensitive to the solvents; they give me a headache and I didn't like the idea of storing flammable liquids in my home. I also don't have the patience for long drying time.

Japanese Gardens
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I'm looking forward to working abstractly again. I think it would be fun to apply what I've learned from working representationally to abstract painting.

I recently became serious about watercolor and I found that it's the most demanding painting medium that I've tried; there's very little room for error due to the transparent nature of the paint. If you overwork it there's no way to fix it.

I would also like to explore painting outdoors more. I think working outside would be a good way to stay motivated, especially during the summer months.

Who or what inspires you most?

Looking at great art inspires me, there are so many paintings in museums and online that are phenomenal - I look at them and try to figure out how they did it. I love learning about how other artists paint so I have a lot of art videos, magazines, and books.

Grain Elevators
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

The internet is a great way to kill time. Watching TV is a close second. I wouldn't try to eliminate these things from my life though because new ideas often come to me during these idle moments. The key is to make time for both work and relaxation every day.

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

I wake up early in the morning and paint before leaving for work so that it's the first thing that I do, otherwise I would probably never get around to it. My goal is to paint every day for an hour. If I paint for longer than that I usually take a break so that I can stay sharp.

I try to eliminate the busywork as much as possible. For example, I haven't stretched a canvas or primed my own wood panels in years. The cost of prepared panels isn't that much more than if I prime them myself, and the quality is better. Framing is another time sink that I try to avoid and I think collectors appreciate being able to choose the style for themselves.

Commercial Slip
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Ideas for paintings are everywhere. I like the idea of making paintings of everyday scenes and objects. If I waited for the perfect subject matter to show up then I would never paint.

I work mostly from photographs, but I don't like the idea of copying a photograph exactly. I consider it a starting point, like a sketch, and I make whatever changes I feel will improve the painting.

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

I make a game of it by switching to a different medium or by working in a different size. I recently completed a series of small paintings, commonly known as Artist Trading Cards. The small size requires a different approach so it's a good diversion from my regular paintings.

If I get tired of coming up with for new reference material to paint from I will work on a larger painting to keep me occupied for awhile. This gives me additional time to build up a catalog of photographs to paint from in the future. I like to have a few images ready to paint and this helps me to eliminate a few of the weaker ideas. They just seem to never get painted and I eventually forget about them.

If I don't feel like painting, I remind myself that after about ten minutes of getting started the resistance will disappear and I will start to enjoy the work. A good audiobook or podcast can also help me when I'm not feeling motivated because I can look forward to listening to it while I paint.

Country Walk
(click to see original image)

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

I'm currently learning a lot about marketing and the business side of art which is very time consuming. I feel like I spend more time marketing than I do painting!

As far as painting techniques are concerned, I've been learning about watercolors rather intensively for the past six months or so. Most of my previous watercolors ended up in the garbage! This past summer my brother and I were determined to improve our watercolor skills. We had fun trying out different brands of papers and paints. I've learned from working in other mediums that the materials you chose have an impact upon the results. They don't necessarily have to be the best or most expensive but it's useful to do some research and experimentation to figure out what works best for your style.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I think it's the process that I enjoy most, I really enjoy learning new things and playing around with paint in my studio. When I'm working, I often lose track of time and become absorbed in my work. Painting can also be very difficult and frustrating at times, but I think that's part of what makes it so compelling. If it were easy, it would be boring.

Thanks, Chris!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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