Thursday, December 8, 2016

DPW Spotlight Interview: Mike Peterson

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

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

From Mike's DPW Gallery:

I grew up in northern Illinois where my interest in art took me to Chicago and the American Academy of Art. That was 1976 and at the time, my training focused on watercolor painting which I continued to pursue exclusively for about 15 years. Although I no longer do much watercolor painting, I appreciate its unique qualities and continue as a signature member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I attended art school in Chicago at the American Academy of Art a long, long time ago.  The routine was fairly structured, life drawing in the morning and a course on fundamentals, including painting technique, in the afternoon.  My introduction to painting really began my second year when I studied watercolor painting with Irving Shapiro.

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

After art school, I moved from Illinois to Austin, Texas with the intention of becoming a full-time artist.  After about a year, the difficulties of making a living became apparent and I started a “temporary” day job.  It lasted thirty years.  Since retiring five years ago, I have been a full-time painter.  Finally!!

Yellow Scarf
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I began my painting career as a watercolor painter and after about fifteen years decided to try something new.  I did not begin painting in oils immediately, but made the change gradually.  I started with acrylics, then water-soluble oils and after about two years took the final step.  These days, I paint exclusively in oils.

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

Oil stuck.  Charcoal stuck.  I haven’t painted a watercolor in about twenty-five years.

Street Scene
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I expect to be learning about oil painting for another twenty-five years.  The variety of effects: transparency, opaqueness, soft edges, hard edges, temperature changes, color contrasts, the list goes on.  I am confident that I will never completely figure it out.  But that’s the challenge.

Who or what inspires you most?

I am inspired by many artists, past and present.  John Singer Sargent and Nicolai Fechin are two of my favorites.

Lady with Green Dress
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I sometimes get stuck on a particular painting, but I don’t really procrastinate.  I start painting about 9 am and paint in my studio all day.  A couple times a week, I get together with a group of artists and paint from a model.  Painting from life and plein air has given a huge lift to my studio painting which for the most part is based on photos or studies.

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

Generally speaking, I think that if you enjoy doing something enough, you will find time to do it.  It may not always be as much time as you want, but even thirty minutes of sketching can be a satisfying experience.  It’s kind of like exercise, the hardest part is often getting started.

Boy at the Museum
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I take lots of pictures when I travel.  People, buildings, nature.  Many of those pictures never develop into paintings, but if I like something, I will usually do thumbnail sketches or value studies to start before beginning the painting.  With the basic values established, I am able to concentrate more on using color and playing with edges.

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

I am usually working on more than one painting at any given time.  If I lose interest or get stuck on a painting, I usually turn it to the wall and work on something else for a while.  I find that sometimes “not working on a painting” is more useful than mindless dabbing of paint on canvas.    

Girl with a Rose
(click to view)

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

Currently, I am trying to focus on good design making better use of a few strong shapes with a variety of edges.

What makes you happiest about your art?

It doesn’t always make me happy, but it always fascinates me.  I start a painting with a plan, in charge, and invariably there comes a point when the painting takes on a life of its own.  At that point, the painting leads the way, but I am not always sure where we’re going.

Regardless, it’s never a boring ride!

Thanks, Mike!

© 2016 Sophie Marine

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