Thursday, November 9, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Tod Steele

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Tod's painting, "Feather Locklear" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Tod's DPW Gallery:

For lack of a better term, I call my painting style, 'Moomoo-ism', which is basically 'the joyous portrayal of cows and other creatures'. I am an animal painter because they make me so happy! While painting I work with lots of energy and joy... and my sincere hope is that the viewer will share in this merriment. My personal philosophy in painting is: "make 'em laugh... or at least smile a bit"... if I can do that, then I'm happy.

As a young fellow I took courses in Animal Husbandry and was amazed at how much personality the animals had, and they have fascinated me ever since, thus it was natural to paint them once I ventured into an art career. I believe that animals can help make us more human by connecting us to the Divine, and I am honored to celebrate their wonder in some small way. I live in Gold Beach, Oregon, with my wife, professional artist J.M. Steele, our Corgi, Lily Bell, and our studio cat, Emily Rose.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My wife has been a full-time artist nearly her entire adult life.  I am her biggest fan and have supported her in any way I could, but I never had thought of painting for myself.  But then on my 49th birthday I got this overpowering urge to paint.  This urge came out of the blue.  Totally unexpected.  With my wife's expert help I dove into painting and have never looked back.  Instead of watching TV I would spend entire evenings looking at art online, paying attention to which paintings I was drawn to, trying to figure out why they appealed to me. Painting is far and away the most fun and interesting thing I've ever done, however, the first three years where extremely frustrating.  All I did was study and make terrible paintings - ha!  I remember once sailing a lousy painting across the back yard into the berry bushes, vowing I'd never paint again.  However, I was addicted to it and persevered until I found my own unique style and the subject matter I loved most... animals.

Feather Locklear
(click to view)

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

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

Well, I loved to draw as a little kid, but somewhere around 8 or 9 someone made fun of my stuff and I stopped cold turkey.  I started in again at 49 years old, so yeah, I had a 40 year 'pause' - ha!

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I started in oils, as that's what my wife has mastered.  I like oil paint, but it doesn't like me.  I am a terribly messy painter and I would get oil paint all over myself.  Not a good thing.  So I tried acrylic, and after a short while fell in love with it.  I think it works especially well with my style of painting.

Lab With a Pearl Earring
(click to view)

Which other mediums are you looking forward to exploring?

No, I think I'm sticking with acrylics.  Sometimes I try a painting in oil, but then run quickly back to acrylics.  Oil is a great medium, but I'm just more familiar and comfortable with acrylics.  Mediums don't really excite me as much as ideas do.  New, fun ideas... that's what I hope to explore.

Who or what inspires you most?

Far and away God is my inspiration.  I mean God as in His creation, in His animals, in quality music, etc.  I believe that 'being in the zone' is actually being connected to the Divine, whether we call it that or not.  That's why we humans love being in that zone so much.  If we're painting or writing or baking or building a business... whatever creative thing it is we love doing, 'being in the zone' just feels so darn good.  So right.

Vincent Should Have Had a Dog
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don't have too much trouble with that really, but when those times come when I just don’t want to go to the studio, I often refer instead to the huge computer file where I have hundreds of my favorite paintings.  It quickly lights a fire in me to get back to work.

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

Late at night or early in the morning work best for me.  Once the day starts there seems to be too many distractions.  Early or late is the best because of the quiet.

This Too Shall Pass
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Oh wow.  All sorts of various ways.  Driving around and photographing farm animals.  Watching movies.  Looking at magazines.  Going to shows or festivals to observe people and animals.  Often when I'm painting, an idea will come for another painting.  I love puns and humor of all kinds, and a humorous phrase will often take over my imagination and then become a painting.  Thankfully, ideas for paintings aren't much of a problem (but as my wife says, I just have to make sure they are GOOD ideas - ha!)

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

I think it's very important to paint for myself - not for others.  I try to paint things that bring me joy.  In doing so I believe the work will find a resonance in others of like mind.  There's an old saying that goes, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader".  It's true.  So, as artists we have to make sure we're passionate about what we paint, or the viewer will not be impressed.  Thus I make sure I have lots of fun when I paint, hoping that the fun will come through to the viewer.

Frida Cowlo
(click to view)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I've done pet commissions for years... I just love doing them.  The positive feedback from clients really brings me joy.  One lady emailed that the painting I did of her old pup is her very most prized possession.  Now, that's a great feeling.  To know that my painting will be on their wall to remind them of their beloved pet is a great honor.

PS. I just started up a Facebook art page. If the reader would be so kind to like the page that would be great and most appreciated.  Thank you!

Thanks, Tod!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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