Thursday, August 29, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Staar Caswell

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

From Staar's DPW Page:

I am an artist living in the Okanagan and Shuswap area of BC, Canada. I enjoy a wide range of subjects from pet portraits, wildlife and landscapes. I strive to add mood and energy to each painting.

I enjoy teaching children and adult workshops. What I like best about teaching workshops is helping a student through a difficult passage in a painting and seeing the confidence gained while doing so. We can be so critical and harsh on ourselves and I consider it an honor to remind and guide others on their creative journey.

I have studied and taken workshops with Gaye Adams, Terry Isaac and Robert Bateman, and am a lifelong learner.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My first memory of painting was copying a pattern out of an old wallpaper sample book which a family friend purchased, framed and hung in his home. I was pretty encouraged to continue. My high school grade 8 art teacher introduced me to acrylic paint and I was hooked.

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

I have always fit in time for painting or sketching since high school but it has only been the last seven or eight years that I have been consistently painting. I have taken workshops with Terry Isaac and Robert Bateman which has encouraged me to paint more consistently. The more consistent I am with painting everyday the more my skills grow, seems like you forget less of the nuisances of painting which makes for less "do overs" and quicker progression of the painting itself.

Above Rock Lake
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I have pretty much run the gamut of mediums and have dipped my toes into most art materials. I have experimented with a looser more impressionist style, abstract, surreal and a genre that I call Intuitive painting. I often still have one on the go in studio to work on in between my realistic paintings. Realism is the genre that gives me the most sense of satisfaction and challenge.

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

Realism and intuitive painting have stuck, the rest have fallen away. Realism is the genre that gives me the most sense of satisfaction and challenge and this has been a constant in my artistic journey.

Intuitive painting can be very refreshing, I really enjoy the freedom it offers. The application of layers with no specific plan, just allowing the imagery to arise can be a nice break from the challenge of realism.

(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of loosening up my realism with regards to landscapes and wildlife. I really love the energy that a well executed impressionistic painting can have. I am currently trying this with my 100 skyscape challenge but as the title indicates it has been a bit of a challenge to loosen up and not refine details.

Who or what inspires you most?

Robert Bateman and Terry Isaac have been a source of inspiration for me for a few decades, both of which I was able to take workshops with in 2017 and 2018. I am really enjoying following many artists on Instagram such as Chris Long and Nicki Ault.

Sky of Diamonds
(click to view)

What inspires me?

Light and form in the natural world. I will never get tired of seeing a beautiful sunset, cloud formation, forest or bird watching and catching glimpses of wildlife around me. I love seeing the natural world with dramatic lighting and trying to capture this in paint.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Painting tutorials on Youtube, researching reference materials or ways to stay motivated. Cleaning my studio and even making to do lists and schedules that I never keep.

Evening Watch, Great Horned Owl
(click to view)

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

I get up early, grab a coffee and go straight to the studio where I have a painting in progress on the easel.  I use a stay wet pallet so I just take the lid off and my paints are ready. I have learned it is easier to get started if you prepare the night before, so by making sure I have a painting started on the easel and everything readily available it is much easier.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I am always on the look out for great painting ideas in my surroundings while I go about my day, looking at the art of other artists I admire, visiting galleries and reading books on composition and painting techniques are a few of the ways that spark my ideas. I also look at art work that I do not like and dissect the reason and make sure I stay away from those compositions or techniques.

Coastal Wolf
(click to view)

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

I think for me being able to switch from my realistic work to an intuitive painting when I start to feel stagnant helps. I also think trying a different style of painting or spending time just playing in my sketch book with no expected outcomes also helps to hit the reset button for me.

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

I am always learning more about composition, colour and values and how to use them in my paintings for certain effects. One of the things I have learned lately through painting consistently is a more methodical plan of attack for each painting, which is also helping reduce the amount of paintings I have to start over or paint major corrections.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I have really enjoyed looking back at my progress over the past decade which has lead to more determination to keep striving and improving. I am also enjoying teaching art and look forward to continuing and growing in this area as well.

Thanks, Staar!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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