Thursday, December 7, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Melissa Gannon

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

From Melissa's DPW Gallery:

Each painting is a journey of discovery. Influenced by the Impressionists, I love to explore layering and arranging colors into vibrant patterns of light and beauty that unfold onto the canvas and reflect the joy inherent in the world around us.

Nature is the primary model I paint from. I'm attracted to the shapes formed by light and shadow, the mosaic of sun-dappled leaves, or the visual delight of a meadow of wildflowers seen from a mountainside trail. I seek to share the wonder of these experiences in my work and bring a piece of nature's bounty indoors for all to enjoy. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

As a kid I loved doing art projects and worked images into most of my class projects. I used to draw during the summers as well. As I got older I started painting from photographs with watercolor. My first watercolor pieces looked a lot like oils as I had no idea about washes! I enrolled in classes and really learned about watercolor, joined an art group and started participating in art shows, then teaching, learning pastel, acrylic, mixed media, and now oils.

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

There have been a few starts and stops. I started one painting before my second child was born and finished it four years later! As an adult I've always had art projects going but I didn't really pursue it as a career until after my kids were in college.

(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I began with watercolor. When I started teaching I began using acrylic, pastel, colored pencil, oil pastel and mixed media. I'm beginning to paint with oils. I did some layering and collaging for awhile in acrylic and watercolor which is a fascinating process. I've used the different texture gels available for acrylics in some of my pieces. Lately I've been using acrylic inks mixed with watercolors. I started out as a pretty realistic painter and have moved more toward impressionism.

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

I don't do much collage anymore but I feel that every bit of experience with different mediums contributes to my overall knowledge and skill. I tend to cycle and revisit methods that I've used before but I might use them in a new or different way.

Oak Leaf Swirl
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I have some cold wax and I'm beginning to explore it as a finish to both acrylics and oils and I want to use it in my oil painting as well. I'm experimenting a little with watercolor on gesso and absorbant ground and I have some Pearl Ex powders that I want to experiment with.

Who or what inspires you most?

I have a big book called "California Light" which has the work of the California impressionists and it's AWESOME! I love Monet's work and how he changed up some of his elements to make them fit better in his paintings.

I really love nature—I see purples in tree trunks! This time of year—fall turning to winter—when the woods are mostly dark with their sprinkling of brightly colored leaves is beautiful!

Waterlily Sparkle
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Looking for something I know I have but can't find!

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

I make a loose plan every day based on blocks of time and try to stick to it. I had to shift my computer work to the evening. When I did it in the morning half the day was gone before I knew it!

Maple Leaf Rock
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I love to hike and bike and always pay attention to nature around me. I take lots of photos and when I'm inside my studio I use the photos for reference. This time of year with the geese flying is cool and I like to add geese to my pieces. I've been painting outdoors more and I'm finding that plein air painting is a really great way to learn. Sometimes I'll buy flowers and paint those.

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

I like to be excited about what I'm painting. I focus on the process and the journey, not on the end result. The piece will work or it won't and that's OK because I'll learn something either way. Moving between mediums is helpful as well. Sometimes I'll paint something in acrylic that I really like and try something similar in watercolor or visa versa. I read a lot of art related books which give me different ideas to use in my work. My classes are a good stimulus for me since some people have been in my classes for years and I have to hustle to present subjects in new and engaging ways. Some days I'll spend a lot of time walking at the park with my camera.

Let's Go for a Walk
(click to view)

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

I'm currently focusing on color—how to use it to enhance what I'm trying to say. I've been experimenting with some different wash techniques in watercolor.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I really love it when a student comes to me and says, "I see so much more since I've been in your class!"

It's so wonderful when someone really resonates with one of my pieces and lets me know how much they love it and how it looks so wonderful in their home.

I am really thankful for the space, time, and supplies to create art.

Thanks, Melissa!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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