Thursday, November 5, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Margaret Horvat

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

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

From Margaret's DPW Gallery Page:

I find beauty in the everyday; the interplay of light and shadow revealing and obscuring details in a subject, the natural infusion of colours that quite often are missed with the casual eye. Looking at subjects in a new and intimate way in order to push beyond the obvious and into the close up details, and then showing how the light and shadow play with those details, is what I enjoy most about painting. The same is true when a portrait is my subject; when observed closely and truthfully, the real person comes through and a connection is made. It is these visual inspirations that compel me to paint. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I remember drawing from a very young age, it was one of my most favourite pastimes, and later on in school I would get to work with either water based paints or acrylics, but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties when I seriously took up painting, with transparent watercolour as my medium of choice.  I am mostly self-taught, having relied on many good books and art magazines to help me figure out how to get to where I wanted to go using this sometimes tricky medium.  I worked exclusively in watercolour until 2009, when I decided to make a switch to oils, with the aim of achieving that smooth velvety quality oils can sometimes convey.

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

Yes a few.  I took art throughout school, but after high school, I didn’t consider being an artist as a possible career choice because at that time, I assumed there were few opportunities to make a living at it, so I went on to other things.  During that time though, I would still draw and as I eventually progressed to watercolours and then oils, I gradually developed my idea of what I wanted my finished paintings to look like.  It wasn’t until after the birth of my first child and I was at home on maternity leave that I was able to spend a bit more time (during baby naps) on my art, but I eventually returned to the workforce when my kids entered school.

Fast forward to 2009 when I made the change to oils - my progress was still sporadic because I wasn’t able to give enough time to it. In 2012 I started to paint full time and in 2014 I became aware of the daily painters movement through Carol Marine's book which was a real eye opener for me.  It was by working much smaller that I was freed up to make mistakes and be less invested, which led to me taking more chances and trying ideas out.  My style didn’t change so much, and I’m still a “details” kind of painter, but the change in my approach helped me to crystallize my process in my own mind, so that I find I can start out a little more confidently now on a new painting with less guesswork and hesitation in the equation.

(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

As mentioned, I’ve worked in watercolours and oils plus I did a little experimentation with acrylics while still in high school, but the fast drying time didn’t really work with the blended look I always seemed to be after.  I’ve done a lot of florals prior to this year and plan to do more of those, though the concepts I have in mind probably would work better in large format paintings.

I love still life as well as portrait work (both humans and animals!). Landscape seems to be the one area I don’t have a natural ability for (at least so far), though I very much admire a lot of the work I see here on Daily Paintworks and elsewhere.  Since I lean more toward realism, I haven’t done much with abstract, but I have been a bit more playful with some of my florals (close ups), which I think can lend themselves to abstraction.

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

Realism/detail work has stuck with me and I think it’s the reason I love to paint.  In the future I could see myself picking up the watercolours again, and see what influence my work in oils may have had on that - it might be interesting to see what has changed in my approach because of all I have learned through oils.

Sunshine Clementine
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

As far as genre goes, I’m pushing the realism a bit further, though I don’t know that I’ll ever go as far as hyperrealist.  On the other hand I would like to explore loosening up more, which I find very challenging, so it’s more of a learning curve for me right now.  Also I have some ideas in the works for much larger format paintings which I am looking forward to getting to.

Who or what inspires you most?

At the moment I’m very inspired by vintage things, objects that are throwbacks to my childhood or even before my time, for example my painting “Hockey Skates”. I find the works of other artists very inspiring including work from the hyperrealists, impressionists, daily painters (lots of inspiration on DPW!) and a great variety of artists throughout the ages as well as current, such as Caravaggio, Vermeer, JC Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, both Neil and Karen Hollingsworth, just to name a few, but there really are so many whose work I love!

Ball Mason Jar
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I love to paint and be productive, but procrastination for me can take many forms – falling down the rabbit hole of the internet (Pinterest, I’m talking about you), letting other projects that are not art or art-related steal my attention for too long. If I’m genuinely tired or feeling under the weather, I’ll let myself have some time to recharge the batteries by vegging out and not doing anything at all, and I tend to let myself have the weekends with my family to relax and recharge, so I’m usually “champing at the bit” once Monday morning comes around.

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

Keeping to a daily routine has helped a lot.  I’ll do a morning yoga routine and try to get working at the easel by 8:30 or 9:00 am, and I also “punch in” by marking down my start and end times for whatever piece I’m working on so I can see how many hours I’m actually painting in a day.  That helps me to get back on track if I find I’m spending more time away from painting, and if it’s not for something that is art business-related, I have to ask myself why.  This keeps me “honest” and accountable to myself.

Chasing Gulls
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Ideas come from my imagination, inspiration from other artists and just playing with objects to come up with arrangements that are appealing.  They also can come from life experience, when I just happen upon something that just begs to be painted.

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

In the last year I’ve found that my approach to oil painting has crystalized in my mind so that it’s more automatic now.  Because of this a lot of the mental gymnastics that used to dog me when I first would start on a painting have lessened and I have more of a clear path to what I’m trying to accomplish on the canvas.  I do a lot of preplanning of what I want the finished product to look like, so that frees me up to get into the “zone” with the actual act of painting, and I think that in itself keeps it fresh for me, it’s almost like meditation, so it’s really pure joy for me and hopefully that manifests itself in the finished work.

Tea Break
(click to view)

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

I’ve been learning to trust my process of painting and that there is actually a never ending source of things to paint – pretty much everything is fair game and everything has something to be said about it – in the same way that everyone has their story.  On a more practical note, I’ve been learning that it’s not just about producing the art when you are a full time artist, you also need to keep on top of promoting your work and getting it in front of the public.

What makes you happiest about your art?

When a piece I’m working on turns out exactly like I had intended, and my “vision” has been realized, that’s very satisfying.  It’s also great when I push myself out of my comfort zone by trying out a different technique and it turns out well.  That means not only do I have a successful painting, but I know I’ve grown as an artist as well.

Thanks, Margaret!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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