Thursday, September 24, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Liz Zornes

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

To enter to win Liz's painting, "Rocky Mountain Meadows" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Liz's DPW Gallery Page:

I live in Dallas Texas and enjoy painting with oils in my spare time. I am primarily a self-taught artist and like experimenting with different styles, although I prefer strong, bold colors and at times use a palette knife for additional texture in my paintings. As I work for a state representative, my free time is non-existent during legislative sessions and after my second session in 2007 I realized it was time to start painting on a regular basis - otherwise the crazy stress of working in politics is going to do me in! I have five wonderful children, and four beautiful grandchildren. They are all very supportive of my art, as is my fabulous husband, Ken, the light of my life. I believe everyone is artistic in some way and I would always encourage anyone I meet to follow your heart when it comes to artistic expression. You will never be sorry! (click to view bio)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting in 2006 after a particularly challenging legislative session, where I work as Chief of Staff to a Texas state legislator.  I realized that I needed a creative outlet, and since I had always loved to draw as a child and enjoy all different kinds of art, I decided to take a few painting classes.  I fell in love with the richness of oil paints and have mostly taught myself by looking at other artists' work and exploring different styles.

Rocky Mountain Meadows
(click to view)

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

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

The only times I am not as active with painting is during legislative sessions, which last for five months every other year.  Since I work full time, I mostly can only paint on the weekends, but I have a studio in my back yard and I can get away from any distractions and paint for hours at a time.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have experimented with acrylics and watercolors, but oil paints work best for me.  I love being able to scrape off an entire canvas and start over, whereas watercolors and acrylics dry too fast for my style of painting. As far an genres go, I love the joy that comes from painting in bright colors and wild shapes, which has drawn me to the Fauvists and Expressionists, as well as the Scottish Colourists.  My husband and I have traveled to Scotland quite a bit and I was fascinated by the rich, bold colors that the painters from the Glasgow School of Art used.

Three Geese on a Pond
(click to view)

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

I have painted in a realistic style from time to time, but the paintings that make me the happiest are the ones that are full of strong, vibrant colors.  There is a freedom in leaving conventional color behind and experimenting with shapes as well. I have enjoyed painting the American Southwest, as I spent part of my childhood in Arizona and to this day have a strong fascination with the desert.  My desert paintings explode with pinks, purples, yellows and turquoises - not colors that are usually associated with what most people think of as desert colors.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I would like to further explore the wildness of the Fauvists and to do more animal and figure paintings in that genre.  I've also considered doing some paintings in an abstract style, as I think that would be very liberating.

Desert Sunrise
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

I have a reverence for the outdoors and am happiest when hiking in fabulous places such as the Rocky Mountains, Big Bend National Park in far west Texas, or Glacier National Park.  I am constantly awed by nature's splendor and can't imagine ever running out of ideas for paintings.  And Matisse and Derain have inspired me to challenge myself by not sticking with what is safe, comfortable or conventional.  After all, who says a giraffe can't be pink or a tree blue? 
What does procrastination look like for you? I almost always procrastinate when asked to do a painting by a friend or one of my children.  There is something about not choosing a subject myself that makes me not as enthusiastic about it, although I'm always happy and excited about giving it to them when it's finished.

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

I think having a dedicated space in which to paint makes it a lot easier to make time for it.  I have everything in one place and can just leave it there when I'm finished.  And for the most part I don't schedule anything during the day on weekends and, as I'm an early riser, I can get to the studio before dawn and have plenty of time to create.

Mountain Wildflowers
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Most of my ideas come from the many places my husband and I have traveled.  We've climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, gone on a photographic safari afterwards, and traveled to Scotland, Italy, Greece, Austria, Ireland, and the Western United States. I've done paintings from all of the above and plan to do a lot more.

How do you keep art "fresh?"

What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging? I'm constantly checking out other artists' work to see if there is a style I might want to try.  Over the years my style has changed quite a bit and every time I think I've found the one that is perfect for me, I see something I like better and I experiment with the new look.  I have gone back and changed paintings a number of times if I think they would look better with different colors or a different technique.

Irish Rowboat
(click to view)

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

I am learning to take more chances with my art and to lose the fear of failing.  I used to pretty much play it safe, but now I don't worry about whether or not something will work.  If it doesn't, I can always scrape it off and start over.  That's the beauty of oil painting - you can always start over on the same canvas.  And I'm using new colors all the time and learning which ones look good together and how much I can get away with in putting them on the canvas.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Several things make me happiest.  First of all, when someone buys a painting and then tells you in an email that they love it - that is just so gratifying!  For a complete stranger to see my work and decide he or she wants it just continues to thrill me no end.  And when I try something new and it turns out just the way I wanted it to look - that makes me very happy.  And lastly - when I am painting I have absolutely no negative thoughts whatsoever.  Painting is the most cathartic experience I have ever had - all cares and frustrations simply melt away when I'm in my studio and devoting myself to creating something beautiful.  That is just happiness, pure and simple, and I am very fortunate to have a loving husband and supportive family who have encouraged me every step of the way.

Thanks, Liz!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine


  1. So proud of you Liz and love seeing your art evolve. I am a very proud owner of a Liz Zornes original!! Much love to you!

  2. Liz I just love the colorful style you have developed. Your paintings are just beautiful. You go girl!