Thursday, September 8, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Setsuko Lawson

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

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

From Setsuko's DPW Gallery:

I was born in Japan, but have been in US for almost 30 years. I try to paint a few paintings or drawings a week. It will be great if I can do a daily painting but when I have a daytime job, a few paintings a week are good to me. I love to take walk in neighboring parks and woods, and sketch or take photos for my future art works. When I encounter the great light or shadow effects, I will be excited and can not wait to start working with it. I also like to paint the still life, especially the transparent objects like porcelain, antique glass, and antique marbles. I simply enjoy creating images.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I was born and raised in Japan.  After I received my degree in American literature, I decided to improve my English by taking some courses in the United States. But, I did not like studying English in the classroom as a language any more. Since I always liked to paint and draw, but did not have many chances, I decided to take some art classes and experience the language among native English speakers. Unfortunately, I did not improve my English skills very much. On the bright side, I found out that I really like drawing and painting.

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

I did not ever totally stop painting, but I was not productive at all for decades. Probably because I was not happy with what I was doing, and was not eager to create new art works. Recently, I realized that I needed to paint and draw many images if I was ever to get anywhere artistically. Even if it meant creating many not wonderful works in order to improve. Every day now, I am striving to create better paintings. I know I am improving, and I am at point that I am very happy just holding a brush. Painting has become pleasurable for me now.

(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I usually switch between oil and acrylic. I have worked on many surfaces including canvas, paper, and different types of boards and panels.

Which ones have “stuck” and which ones have fallen away?

Sometimes my paintings have compositional problems. If this is the case, I can put a painting away for a while. I know I can go back later and most likely find my compositional solutions. But if the painting does not have any charm in it, then I will not spend additional time to fix it, instead I will go on to a new one.  I have to feel that “spark” in my work to be completely satisfied.

Afternoon Shadow
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I like to work gold leaf into drawing.  Also, I am working more now with digital arts.

Who or what inspires you most?

There are so many contemporary, incredible artists. I am awed by many of them. I like to find the most comfortable chair in the bookstore and keep reading and looking at many artists’ works and their strategies. The magazines and books are my friends. My favorite masters I always go back to are George Inness, Ingres, Rembrandt, and also a Russian painter named Nicholas Anokhin.

Summer Evening
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I am a queen of procrastination. Therefore, I do not give myself a chance to do it. After my husband goes to work around 6:30, I sit and start to work. That is it.

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

I do not have any techniques but my schedule helps. I usually teach the night classes at the nearby college so that I have just about all day for myself.

Old Glass Marbles
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

It is the hardest thing for me to decide what to paint next. I usually spend time taking photographs and keep them in the right categories. Later, I check them with a fresh eye and create the composition using Photoshop.

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

I try to add drama or some stories behind the image. It doesn't need to be anything big. It can be a contrast between values, textures, or shapes. Also, I like to switch the medium. Digital art especially gives me a new attitude toward image making.

(click to view)

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

I've learned a lot of techniques, skills, and theories. Now I am learning how to apply those wonderful things to my works.

What makes you happiest about your art?

These days painting and drawing has become therapeutic to me. If I can sit and work on my painting or drawing, I am a very happy person.

Thanks, Setsuko!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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