Thursday, October 6, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Cindy Gillett

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

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

From Cindy's DPW Gallery:

My medium of choice is soft pastels. I find the vibrant colors intoxicating and painting without paint brushes very freeing. I try to paint each and every day. Painting small pieces daily helps to keep me focused on composition, color harmony, and values while enjoying the application of soft pastels. (click to view gallery)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Two and a half years ago, I read an article in the Pastel Journal about how natural the progression is from drawing to painting with soft pastels.  I was intrigued!  I have always been a person who loved art and could draw but never really found the right painting medium for me.  So, I bought a few soft pastels and dove in.  I found that working with soft pastels was a perfect medium to compliment my drawing skills and (at long last) I had the time it would take to develop my artistic side.  Since then, I have been devouring books, blogs, YouTube videos, workshops and tutorials in an effort to unleash "The Artist Within" (which happens to be the name of my blog).  Looking at my drawer full of pastels makes me feel like a kid in a candy store! They’re just so gorgeous!  No matter how dead tired I am at night, when I first wake up in the morning, I can’t wait to get back into the studio and paint!

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

There have been many "starts and starts".  I’ve never really stopped being an artist… I don’t think anyone really can when art is so ingrained in a person.  But, I did have a tough time finding the time to paint while working and raising a family (which were my priorities).  Then, once I had the time, I struggled a bit to find the right painting medium.  Now that I have the right medium, I am consumed with painting and with the business side of selling my artwork as well.

Morning Calm
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I am a soft pastel artist and consider myself still experimenting with those.  I have also drawn with graphite, colored pencils, charcoal, pastel pencils, and have painted with watercolors, acrylics and one oil painting (many years ago).   I cover all genres never allowing myself to settle on one genre (just yet anyway).  I still consider myself a student so I force myself to paint all genres especially those out of my comfort zone until I’m satisfied I can do them all… at least reasonably well.

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

Right now pastels have stuck… everything else is taking a backseat.

Fly 30 - The Lady Amherst
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I look forward to exploring oil painting. The methodology in painting with oils is similar to pastels so it will be a natural compliment to pastels.  However, I’m in no hurry because I’m not sure I want to mess with the cleanup involved (brushes and palette) and the need to mix colors.  The reason pastels are great right now is that I can look at my pastel box/drawer and chose the colors I want to paint with and get started immediately.

Who or what inspires you most?

All artists are inspirational to me in one way or another.  I admire anyone willing to put their art "out there" for the world to see.  It can be very intimidating, especially at first.

I also love the old masters and I have to say given the physical limitations Van Gogh had, I admire his persistence in the face of such a conflicted life.  I recently read Van Gogh’s Letters, edited by H. Anna Suh.  Those letters really opened my eyes!  Most of Vincent’s letters were written to his brother Theo and included many of his sketches and paintings.  I was blown away by how elementary his first drawings were.  In my humble opinion… they weren’t very good but, he had a passion to persist.  He drew and drew then added charcoal and finally added color via paint.  One quote that struck me was: "Not only did I start drawing at a late stage, but added to that it may be that I may not be able to count on so very many years of life".   He wrote that seven years before he died.  It was what fueled his obsession to draw and paint so much and to progress so greatly in such a limited timeframe.  And, it reminded me that I too have a finite time on this earth… so I too am passionate to paint and progress as much as possible before I leave this earth.

(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination for me looks like dust build up and piles of laundry.  Because art is such a passion now, I have a hard time breaking away to do the mundane things around the house.  I am (or was) an extremely good housekeeper (probably too much so)… now, things don’t have to be "perfect".  Good enough, is good enough for me.  I think a Roomba vacuum is in my future!

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

I am usually up very early (5am or so) because that’s when I have the most creative energy.  My motto is: "if I’m not painting by 10am, then I’m probably not painting".  We also had a very large master bedroom (15x30) that I converted into an art studio (aka woman cave).  I have a lovely fireplace, TV and seating area as well as my desk and easel area… it is my artistic haven!  I believe making an inspirational space in your home (no matter how big or small) helps keep a person motivated.

Chasing Shadows
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I have mountains of photos taken over the years that give me inspiration.  I also like to set up still life settings at home and of course look at the artworks of other artists past and present.

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

Because I paint all genres, I hop from one to another to change things up.  That helps a lot.  I also paint in series or themes now and then.  It’s always a challenge to come up with something "fresh"!  I just concentrate on painting what I like and then hope others might like it too.

Poppies Down Under
(click to view)

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

Perseverance!  And, in two and a half years, I’ve finally gained confidence.  At first, I was consumed with self doubt.  In my head I was saying "what the heck are you doing", "you don’t know how to do this", "this looks TERRIBLE" etc. etc. etc.  Then I read "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland and I realized this self doubt was typical.  It’s no different than someone musically inclined learning to play the guitar or piano… practice, practice, and more practice.  Then, finally, I began to improve and see some paintings that didn’t look too bad.  Then I actually started to like most of them… but it did take a lot of work!  And, once in a while (I will admit), I don’t like a painting… and it doesn’t like me!

I heard it takes two hundred paintings before you find your "style"… then I heard three hundred to five hundred.  When you’re first starting out, these numbers are daunting!  That’s why Daily Paintworks and completing several 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenges have helped me stick with it and therefore grow as an artist.  Yep, perseverance!

What makes you happiest about your art?

Well, I finally learned to control color.  When I started, I used every color I could get my hands on… I had absolutely no self control.  All those colors were intoxicating!  Now, I’m finally disciplined enough to pick a color palette first and stick with it throughout the painting. My paintings therefore have more color harmony.  I’m very happy that I finally like my own work… and especially happy when someone else does too!

Thanks, Cindy!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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