Thursday, October 18, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Pamela Hamilton

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

From Pamela's DPW Gallery Page:

Pamela Hamilton attended Chicago's School of the Art Institute, then later continued her education studying Graphic Design. She began a career in print and publishing, eventually becoming the Art Director for Country Sampler Magazine.

As her children grew up and started lives of their own, Pam enrolled in a series of oil pastel classes. One medium lead to another, and she discovered soft pastels. It was then that Pam decided to end her career and fully immerse herself in her artistic pursuits. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I’ve always been an artist, even as a small child. I recall making paper dolls for my classmates during indoor winter recess in elementary school. I was voted class artist in High School and received a small fine art scholarship followed by a short study in painting and drawing at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute. I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself in my craft until about six years ago.

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

Definitely yes! I started my family when I was very young and had three children by the age of twenty-six. There was no time to paint and no money for school. Following a divorce in my early thirties, I enrolled at the community college and studied graphic design. I worked very hard to provide for my family. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to switch gears. I registered for an oil pastel class at the local fine arts center and I knew then there was no turning back! Within one year I was entering (and winning!) art competitions.

Peaceful Pass
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I’ve dabbled in acrylic and watercolor, but favor graphite, oils, oil pastels, and pastels. I really love all representational genres. Particularly still life, animals, and landscape.

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

My early work (high school and college) was mostly in graphite and oil. Later, when I resumed my artistic journey, I worked in oil pastels. I really liked them, but the medium is not recognized as a “pastel” by the International Association of Pastel Societies. Therefore, I wasn’t able to compete in pastel competitions. Plus, plein air painting in the steamy Midwest summer heat turns the oil pastels gooey. So about six years ago, I ordered a box of soft pastels and they suit me much better. Now I incorporate watercolor, acrylic and inks as underpaintings with my soft pastels. I never get bored with pastels!

(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring? 

I may pick up a brush and oils again soon, but for now I plan to continue my pastel journey, experimenting with homemade substrates and underpainting techniques.

Who or what inspires you most? 

I love Impressionists such as Monet, Renoir, Degas and Sargent. I’m lucky to live an hour from the Art Institute of Chicago where I can study the beautiful works of these amazing historic artists. Many of the impressionists used pastels in their field studies, then produced their large oil paintings in the studio. I have MANY contemporary favorites including Richard McKinley, Liz Hayward-Sullivan, Alain Picard, Gwenneth Barth-White, Mike Beeman and fellow DPW artist, Rita Kirkman.

(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you? 

Really the only time I procrastinate is with commission pieces when using customer-supplied reference photos of poor quality. Without a good, clear reference, there’s no way I can produce quality work. I busy myself in mundane household tasks to avoid starting these pieces until I can’t put it off any longer.  Once I get rolling, they typically turn out better than expected.

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

Making time for my art can be a huge challenge! I’m a wife, mother and grandmother before anything else and make my family a priority. That being said, without my art, I’m off-balanced and gloomy. I teach pastel class every Thursday. In addition to guiding and mentoring a group of talented, enthusiastic artists, it’s a block of time each week in which I can demonstrate and putter on my own work. I often return to my home-studio after class and complete work started earlier that day. Also, I’m a member of several local art leagues including the Wayne Art League. They have scheduled Paint-Outs on Monday mornings from May through October. I choose my favorite locations and add them to my calendar like any scheduled event to ensure that time is for me.

(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

There is beauty all around is. Everyplace I look, I see something that inspires me. I think any artist will say that we’re always seeking the light! That is key to me, whether a landscape, traditionally-lit still life, portrait, or a bird in sparkling water, I love the way the light reflects and interacts with color.

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

I’m constantly experimenting and challenging myself. This keeps it fun and exciting! My earlier work looked almost identical to my reference photos. I’ve been working at softening edges and creating expressionistic backgrounds and skies through serendipitous underpaintings. I want to stay true to my love of realism yet develop my mark-making skills, color usage and style.

Cat in the Box
(click to view)

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

Sometimes it’s OK to fail. It’s just paint, paper and time, right?

What makes you happiest about your art?

I thoroughly LOVE pastels—the colors are so vibrant and exciting! The fact that I can swipe a dry-chalky stick on a piece of paper and turn it into something beautiful is amazing. My art grounds me. If I’m feeling down or cranky, a few minutes with my art and I feel re-centered. And I love to share my work with other people. When I exhibiting at the art fairs, I’m often told I have “the happy booth”.

Thanks, Pamela!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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