Thursday, June 14, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Beth Hunt

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

From Beth's DPW Gallery:

My name is Beth Hunt and I am a self-taught artist originally from California where I sold my work for a number of years during my late twenties. I took an extended hiatus from my art for the last fifteen years in which I got married, moved to Washington, and became a mother (whew!). Now that my two sons are beyond needing my constant attention, I am happily back in my art studio with a renewed passion! My favorite mediums are chalk pastel and oil paint, but I also enjoy using colored pencil and watercolor on occasion. While breathtaking landscapes do inspire me, I am also captivated by the little things... the quiet, easily overlooked beauty of the every day. It is my hope that you will enjoy these images as much as I love to paint them!

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have always loved to paint and draw and had an aptitude for it that my parents recognized and supported at an early age.  I definitely got more serious about art in high school and discovered pastels which I loved right away.  During college, I majored in Biology, but continued to draw when I had the time and even completed a booklet of scientific drawings for the Mammalogy department for my senior project.

Forest Sream
(click to view)

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

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

After graduation, I began to experiment with oil paint and quickly found my way into a reputable gallery where I showed my work until I had my first child.  At that point, I took an extended hiatus (fifteen years!) from painting and only in the past few years began to find my way back into my studio.  It's funny, but even though I didn't paint all that time, I was still keenly observing everything with "artist's eyes".  Each time I saw something that inspired me, I would think about how I would go about painting it.  I believe that this intense observation combined with the strong desire to create has served me well.  I am now back in my studio with fifteen years worth of pent-up creative energy!

Road to the Mountains
(click to view)

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?  Which one have "stuck", which ones have fallen away, and which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I began using chalk pastels in high school and I still enjoy them just as much as I did then.  Oil paints came later and I fell in love with the ability to mix my own colors as well as their wonderful buttery texture and also the durability of the finished work.  When you've dealt with nothing but pastels, having a finished piece that you aren't terrified to touch is really a relief... especially when you have kids and a snoopy cat around your studio!  I also enjoy colored pencils and have completed several highly realistic, detailed pieces with this medium, but each drawing takes a very long time.  I prefer a medium in which I can express myself more freely.

As far as genres are concerned, I have done portraiture, figurative work, and realistic animal portraits in pastel and colored pencil.  While showing in the aforementioned gallery, I concentrated on oils to paint pastoral scenes as well as animal portraits that showed my sense of humor.  I  still love pastoral imagery, but have definitely embraced the natural landscape and still life genres which I am enjoying immensely.  I do, however, look forward to including more of my sense of humor in upcoming pieces.  I love to laugh and nothing gives me more pleasure than to have one of my paintings make someone smile.

In the Flow
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

Without a doubt, the two biggest inspirations for me are the natural world and the beauty of the simple, everyday things in life... the way the light catches your cup of tea or that "pesky" dandelion growing in your lawn.

What does procrastination look like for you?

It looks like a good book... or housecleaning... or making an extravagant meal... or going for a drive... or going for a hike... etc., etc., etc!  Procrastination?  What's that?


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

I make sure that when it is a "painting day"(at least four days per week), I treat it like a job.  I make myself a tea and get into my studio by 9 or 10AM, take a lunch break around 1PM, and continue to work until around 3:30 (this is when I pick up my kids from school).  Sometimes I will work later if I'm not to a good stopping point.  I also try not to answer the phone during these hours.  If I know that I am pressed for time and won't be able to complete an entire painting that day, I set a reasonable goal for myself and make sure that I reach it.  These smaller goals can be setting up a still life, taking a reference photo, completing a value study, mixing my paint for the next day, etc.

Shy Iced Tea
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

This is a tough question because I get them from anywhere and everywhere.  Sometimes I see something beautiful outside and I quickly snap a photo, sometimes I will think of a still life because I like the concept, colors, or subject matter in the idea, and other times it's just a surprise.  For example, my dog does something silly and I get a great photo or I am looking through my father-in-law's photographs (he is a wonderful photographer) and see one that I just have to paint (with his permission, of course).

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

I only paint what I truly WANT to paint.  I think that is the real key.  I believe that many times, artists get caught up in what they think will sell instead of what gets them excited.  That will kill inspiration every time because if you do this, you aren't really inspired to begin with.  I also make sure that if I have been in the studio a lot and need a day or two to recharge, I do it!

Canyon on the Palouse
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning right now as an artist?  What makes you happiest about your art?

Right now I am working on loosening up and letting things be.  I know that I am capable of doing realism, but I am thoroughly enjoying the Zen art of allowing my work to be a bit more rough and concentrating on value and color more than detail.  In the past, when doing very realistic, detailed work, I would actually catch myself holding my breath while I painted!  I feel so much more free and playful now that I am loosening up and I think it shows in my art.

Thanks, Beth!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

1 comment:

  1. Hi Beth,

    I really like your work and your story. We have some things in common. I too took leave from painting, but my absence was about 25 years. About three years before my retirement in 2005, I began painting again, and am doing it pretty steadily now.

    I like what you said about painting for yourself not for the market. Me too, I never decide to paint something because it might sell. I paint what I want to paint, and if it sells, that's great, but selling is not my major goal. I paint for me; it's my therapy.

    You mentioned painting thing of life. Several years ago I adopted the following as my tag line (keeping in mind that most of my work is still life): "Finding beauty in life's ordinary things."

    Finally, you are fortunate to live in Washington state. I love the PNW, and we go there occasionally, as one of my sons lives in Olympia. Great place.

    Happy painting,

    Bob Blackmon (www.blackmonstudio.com) and here on DPW)

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