Thursday, April 13, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Fred Bell

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

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

From Fred's DPW Gallery:

Fred Bell has been painting for many years. He is a graduate of the Cape School of Art and studied with the famous Henry Hensche for six years. He has had many art shows around the US. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his cat Jack. He is currently represented by Tim Cobb Fine Arts in Milwaukee, WI. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting seriously in my early twenties. All of my friends were artists and so I started making art too. About six months into it, I took a trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod and it was life changing. I found the Cape School of Art and studied with Henry Hensche. An eastern saying is "When the student is ready the teacher will appear" and that's what happened to me. I knew I was in the right spot and ended up studying with Hensche for six summer sessions, about three months each.

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

Art is a vocation. It's hard to predict whether you will make any money at it, so I have some trouble with the term "career." When I started painting, the idea of selling did not occur to me. I just did it and that's what I did. I hadn't ever been to an art gallery in Milwaukee. It was completely foreign. I went to the art museum here once in a while.

As far as working goes, everyone has times when they don't know what to do. What you're doing seems over with and what to do next is a mystery. Sometimes you have to wait and get bored and sometimes you just have to do something stupid.

Fertile Valley
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I've worked with clay, pastels, pen and ink, all kinds of paint and more. Over the years you try a lot of stuff. I've worked extensively in the three big ones: portrait, landscape, still life. I did commercial illustration for a few years. The only thing I haven't explored enough is abstract painting.

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

In the end, painting with oils and acrylics is where I've spent the most time. For a few years, I was represented by an important gallery. I tried to do things the gallery owner liked but ultimately failed. Since giving up gallery representation, I have felt more free to do what I want. Galleries can be stifling, but now I sell on the web and it's working out better. Ultimately, you have to accept who you are and what you are comfortable with and get satisfaction from. Trying to be cool has not worked for me.

The Farm
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I'm doing one small painting a day and I know that is changing as I do them. Anything you do a lot of changes you. I also want to do more experimental, less commercial painting.

Who or what inspires you most?

Other painters. I look around at the web to see others work or go to galleries. When I go to a show I look for things I can use in my own work. I don't think too much about it being good or bad.

(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination comes when you don't know what to do or how to do it. I used to be upset about putting things off. Now I know, if I don't do something it's because I am not ready. I wait to be ready. I wait for understanding of how to start.

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

Anxiety works well. If I don't paint for a day or two I start to feel depressed. Art is an antidepressant.

Milwaukee County Grounds
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Spontaneously. Ideas come from working. You can sit around forever waiting for a great idea. That doesn't work for me. Also, looking at the work of others.

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

If I start to get too tight then I use bigger brushes. Changing subject matter, buying a new brush, focusing on one aspect like strokes or shapes or color can perk me up.

(click to view)

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


What makes you happiest about your art?

Selling is a thrill. Better than selling is feeling like you've done a good job. There is no better feeling than doing work that speaks to you, to achieve something new.

Thanks, Fred!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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