Thursday, June 25, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: H.F. Wallen

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

To enter to win H.F.'s painting, "Beautiful Eyes" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting:

Growing up, art was a form of escapism discovered at a very early age.  I don't remember a time when I didn't draw, paint and sculpt whenever possible.  Even if all there was was mud, I found a way to impose some design or image with it.  In school, I was the kid sitting at the back of the class drawing on the margins of my workbook instead of doing the assignment.

I sold my first piece in fifth grade - it was a clay sculpture of a unicorn; I think I got $20.00 for it.  When I was young, I nearly always received encouragement for my art, so attending college as an art major came as a bit of a shock.  Don't get me wrong, no one came out and told me I didn't have talent, but, the prevalent message was, "Don't do what you're doing, do something else."  So I changed career paths, and gradually packed away my art supplies.

Beautiful Eyes
(click to see original image)

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

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

A few years ago I hit a couple of significant bumps with work and I began to reconsider art as an option.  I did a search for drawing classes in my area, just something to get my feet wet... Instead I found a beginning oil painting class at the Classical Art Academy in Boulder, CO.  Best decision I ever made!  For the first time ever, I had found an instructor who taught what I needed to know; basically how to paint the way I envisioned my paintings should look.  Mostly it was just good basic materials and tools information, but Michelle Philip is also an incredibly kind teacher with a good eye for seeing what needs to be fixed.

About two years ago, I made the decision to move to Iowa to free up time and resources to concentrate on my art.  Since then, I have received several awards at local artist shows, and had a show featuring my paintings at the Witter Gallery in Storm Lake, IA.  Last fall I decided to give Daily Paintworks a try and things have been going really well since - nothing is as encouraging as finding people who really appreciate your art!

Pike Place Market Entertainment
(click to see original image)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Oil paint has definitely become my medium of choice, I love the color intensity and versatility. I've tried, but I don't have the patience for watercolor, and acrylic paint always seems sticky to me.  As for other art mediums, I have to be careful; I'm kind of an art supply junky, every time I see some new product or or new twist on an old one, I want to try it! I actually had to pack up all my non-oil-painting paraphernalia and store it in the garage to keep from getting distracted.

Who or what inspires you most? 

For inspiration, I look at a lot of other artists' work: Jill Soukup, Qiang Huang, Tibor Nagy, Elena Katsyura, the list could go on and on... I seem to fight a constant battle to stay loose in my own work, so viewing artwork that has a sense of mystery to it helps remind me what I'm aiming for.

Lake Isabel
(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?  How do you keep art “fresh”?  What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I'm easily distracted so procrastination is an issue. TV is the worst; the minute I turn it on I forget everything I wanted to get done, so I try not to turn it on. Basically, I'm learning that it's true, if you paint every day you get better.  I don't manage to paint quite that often, but I'm working on it.  I have discovered that if I go too long without painting, it takes a lot longer to get back into it and do anything that isn't complete garbage.

Green Eyes
(click to see original image)

The flip side to this is that avoiding burnout gets tougher, painting small helps, most days I can finish something in one sitting, other days - nothing comes out right and I have to stop and walk away to preserve my sanity.  If I just feel stuck, I pick up a pallet knife instead of a brush - some of my best paintings have been done almost entirely with a knife.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Finding ideas for paintings isn't usually a problem, finding time to paint even a fraction of the images I want to capture is the real challenge.  I have thousands of photos to work from, and I want to add still life and plein air painting this year - I have my pochade box all packed and ready to go!

Willow Creek Bridge
(click to see original image)
What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?  What makes you happiest about your art?

I love painting. It can be incredibly frustrating, and it's never easy, but however the end result turns out, I've still accomplished something. I'm always learning, always seeing new things that would make a great composition. I just hope that I can keep that going, but I have so far to go, I can't really imagine an end.

Thanks, H.F.

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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