Thursday, November 29, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Tamanda Elia

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

From Tamanda's DPW Gallery Page:

My name is Tamanda Elia and I started Daily Paintworks this year. I currently reside in the Niagara region (Southern Ontario), Canada with my wonderful husband, two (now teenage) kids and three rambunctious dogs in a very small house. I studied at NSCAD University (Nova Scotia) graduating with a Bachelors degree in Fine Art.

Even though I have managed to draw and paint over the years, I decided to take it out of my comfort zone and go on-line. So here I am. I hope you enjoy my work.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Like so many artists say, I started drawing at an early age. I obviously don’t remember, but my mother informs me (as all proud mothers do) that I was two when my squiggles started to look like actual objects. I’ve always drawn. It’s a part of me. I draw or sketch things out every day. As for painting, I found an old painter’s box (my mother’s) when I was twelve and did my very first oil painting (a terrible sunset but I still have it). I was always labeled the “art” kid at school. So, it wasn’t a surprise when I went to Art College and got my degree.

(click to view)

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

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

I was surprised at how discouraged I was by the time I finished university and had my Bachelor’s Degree in hand. Being an artist was what I had always wanted and expected to be and the reality of an artist’s life appeared to be a disappointing prospect. So instead of rushing headfirst into the art world to make a name for myself I focused on my social life. I married a wonderful man, had two great kids and then life threw a wrench at us. My son was diagnosed with Autism in 2004 (when he was two) and for many years it seemed like everything became about that. It has taken years, lots of hard work, lots of therapists, great teachers, educational assistants and parenting classes but life seems somewhat relaxed now. Also I should note that somewhere in these years I started painting a lot more. I had the end goal of becoming a daily painter and finally, last November, I thought yes. Yes, this is the time. I can show my work now.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Although I have worked with acrylic and once in a while will create something with it, it’s usually reserved for small landscapes. The drying time is an issue for me, so I work mainly in oil paint. I like the texture, the fluidity, and also the challenge of application. There’s no better medium in my mind and of course, the colors look sharp. Most of my work this year has been floral in nature. Gardening has been something I gained interest in when I became a home owner many years back. I think it was a natural merge of the two interests.

I still do occasional graphite drawings but they take a lot of time. These are usually portraits, whether human or animal. First I do two or three rough sketches before I complete the final drawing. This is to get the exact, precise, most accurate measure of the composition, proportion and scale. I still have to work at this. They can take up to twelve hours because I shade in small lines. This is probably the most meticulous work I do.

Algonquin Reflections (168)
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

In the back of my head there’s a pottery class waiting to be explored but it’s on the back burner for now.

Who or what inspires you most?

When I was younger it was definitely the Impressionists that had most of my focus. Edouard Manet and Mary Cassatt were my largest influences regarding paint application and technique. Speed up many years later, the internet has allowed me to research so many interesting artists. Influential people to me now are those artists that are out there now, working currently and showing the rest of us how it’s done.  Artists that I follow on-line now are: Carol Marine, Cathleen Rehfeld, Sarah Sedwick, Daniel Keys, Laura Robb, Dennis Perrin, Kathleen Speranza, Julian Merrow-Smith, Hallie Kohn, Kim Smith, Ken Knight, Qiang-Huang, and many, many more. Adding some Canadian artists: Shannon Reynolds, Julia Veenstra, Wendy Bermingham and Sheila Davis. I look at all these wonderful artists because they are succeeding in what they love to do, and it’s what I essentially want. I mean, that’s ultimately what we all want, success and validation.

Grizzly Bear
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

How to answer? Hmmm. I keep thinking and then I go to another question. I’m back now. Still thinking about the answer and wondering which direction I should go in. I’ll get back to you on that.

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

Scheduling and organizing is pivotal. The kids, the husband and the dogs all have time slots but so does my art time. When you work at home you have to learn not to answer the phone (unless it’s the school), ignore the laundry (not a problem), tell people you’re working (and ignore their scoffing noises) and just try to focus. It’s a precarious balance that does go askew but you have to get back on track.

Stacked (145)
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

It’s an accumulation of many things. Sometimes I decide on a subject first. If I have bought flowers then they will be the focus. Other times I will start with deciding the palette colors. As color creates emotional effect and atmosphere, they are vital in influencing this. It can also start with the composition and layout: I have a stack of sketchbooks with just thumbnail sketches of ideas of compositions. I’m always trying to find different ways to make the canvas pop in dimension. Or to bring the viewers eyes around the canvas with movement. I want people to view my work, be enticed by it and perhaps be wanting for more. I love the compositions that are cut off, or foreshortened. Another starting point is going through my reference photos. For most of my work I do photo-shoots (especially when working with flowers or changing light effect). These photos help me play with different ideas of the same subject. With a really great subject, I can get several paintings out of it just by changing background color, arrangement, the vase, how many, etc.

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

I try not to paint the same subject more than twice in a row unless they are small paintings. I will come back to that subject but I need to change subjects to keep from being bored in between. Also I will spring back and forth from large paintings to smaller. I find this helps loosen my strokes (something I am always working on). Having lots of references also helps keep the creative thoughts moving along.

(click to view)

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

I’m just starting. This year was the year I said “Ok, that’s it, I’m doing this!” I have learned so much about business, the on-line business, time-management, self promotion, pushing myself outside my comfort zones, and oh yeah, painting too. I’m still learning how to paint. Next year I am planning to add Arts and Crafts Shows and galleries into the mix.

What makes you happiest about your art?

To create something that evokes a positive feeling that others can share and appreciate gives me endless joy and happiness. Everyone needs a purpose and to feel that your work is not only acknowledged but liked. Well, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

Thanks, Tamanda!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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