Thursday, October 24, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Olga Hegner

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

From Olga's DPW Gallery Page:

Olga's favorite painting medium is oil. She paints a variety of subjects - landscapes, still life, dogs and other animals, and occasionally people. She lives in Park City, UT.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting relatively recently, about six years ago. Of course, I liked drawing as a child - most children do. I remember that I was not allowed to draw on the walls of our apartment. That surprised me, and I was not about to obey. So, I would secretly take a pencil with me at bedtime and drew on the wall adjacent to my bed.
I probably had some good drawing ability growing up, because I was frequently assigned to do school art projects, like newspapers, banners, etc. I doodled a lot. But nobody in my family ever considered art as a serious career. Besides, I had an aunt, my mother’s sister, who almost became a professional artist. And comparing me to her - my family did not see any particular talent in me. So, I became a lawyer, and I loved my profession. I still believe that it is the best education and profession one can get - it is never the same, always developing, always throwing riddles at you.
By the way, I stopped doodling and drawing during the first year of law school. There was a very talented boy in my class, who could draw fantastic cartoons illustrating the subjects we were studying. He did it right there during a lecture with a pen, no pencil. I could not be seen doodling with such a talent nearby. I do not know what happened to that guy. Hope he was able to combine a legal career with art.

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

I started painting so recently - I have not had any stops yet. It still feels like a “start”. Sometime around 2012 I found myself with too much time on my hands, and legal work was not coming my way. I decided to explore my childhood attraction to drawing and took a drawing class, then a painting class, then a plein air workshop, then another workshop and another… And I discovered a whole new world of art and painting. More I learn, more I understand that I know nothing. It is fascinating!

A Mouse With An Attitude
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Pencil drawing probably will be forever my favorite. It is so immediate and versatile. I am not a good draftsman, but I can notice a certain progress as years go by.
I tried different mediums - watercolor, pastel, oil. Each of them have their own special beauty. But right now I am very attracted to oil. I enjoy a sensation of applying oil on a canvas, how smooth it spreads, and how a plain surface comes to life immediately and directly. I appreciate its forgiveness - mistakes can be reworked.
Genres - I am a realistic painter. Abstract has not opened its secrets for me so far.
Subjects - I love painting everything that comes my way. Plein air and landscape - it is exciting to be outside, listen to the sounds of nature or a town, smelling flowers or a bread toasted at a cafe. For me there is more in those landscape paintings than just shapes and color harmony.
Still life - painting a still life is an exercise in turning simple and humble subjects into interesting and fascinating stories.
Animals - I like animals, and I have a dog. Painting a dog always makes me happy. But I paint him from photographs, because he never sits still.
People - this is my next challenge. I would like to develop skills of portraying people, and not just their likeness, but to be able to show their characters and inner lives.

Lara - A Doll
(click to view)

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

Oil is my medium of choice now, but I am still experimenting with watercolor. When I travel I like sketching in watercolor. Sketches create the best memories, way better than any photo.
A set of pastels remains in my studio. And I know that I will come back to it. Maybe after watching a demo by Albert Handell, or by Richard McKinley, or another wizard of pastel painting.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

There is so much to explore! I just scratched the surface of art of painting. I would like to learn more about art history. I would like to experiment with composition and color harmonies. I would like to get a better understanding of color and a power of grays. I would like to explore different painting styles. Saying this, I admit that I believe that everyone has their own style, their vision, handwriting and brushstroke. But what I had learned from taking workshops and meeting artists - there is a difference in artistic esthetic between the Western and Eastern United States. I live in the West and I would like to explore what is happening out there in the East. Then there is Russia, the country where I was born. Classical art traditions are very much alive there, and I would like to explore that too.

Martini Cheries
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

The strongest inspiration for me is coming from seeing works of Art. We live in marvelous times - art works are coming to us through the Cloud, the Net, through Media. We can scan through a museum’s collection while having our morning coffee with a computer by the side. But nothing can compare to seeing real life art. I had an exceptional opportunity to see Sorolla’s exhibition at the National Gallery in London, UK. And right after that I visited Prado in Madrid, Spain. It was the first time I saw Velazquez’s Las Meninas in person. This frequently copied, multiplied  and discussed masterpiece affected me in unexpected way - I almost fainted seeing it in person. The master was looking at me from the painting, studying me, evaluating, taking notes. I was inspired, for sure, but at the same time I wanted to bury by paints and brushes in the back yard and never tell anybody that I was trying to paint.

I am also inspired by the artists around me. There are  lot of exceptionally talented painters, but at closer look - it is their hard work and discipline that allows these artists to stand out.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Someone was saying that procrastination is actually a good thing. If you have a deadline to meet, and you procrastinated until the last day, you approach a project with a doubled energy. I do not know if it is true. If I have a project or a painting to finish at a certain time - I do not procrastinate, I dig in right away. And that maybe is a bad thing.

Russian Matryoshka Is Having A Tantrum
(click to view)

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

Good and sensible planning is the key. Having a studio or a painting space near your kitchen and a living space are not good for dedicating time to art, because distractions happen - dishes, dust, droopy house plants… They all need immediate attention. So, the brush goes down, watering can comes in. This may be the reason that I like to go out for a plein air, where I can totally submerge in painting.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I am not sure, the ideas just happen. Right now I have more ideas for paintings than I physically will be able to accomplish.

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

Everything in art is so fresh for me. A burnt out feeling has not visited me so far. I do get tired, as I was this summer during the season of plein air competitions. Painting a lot of landscapes brought a desire to paint still life inside and in a controlled environment.
I do not take commissions, and that also keeps the feeling of pressure to “produce art” under wraps.
I hope that my paintings look vibrant and engaging - I am trying to achieve that for sure.

Old Lady
(click to view)

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

The first and the most - I started to feel as an artist. I have no fear, and I am learning. And I believe that there is a great adventure in being an artist.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am the happiest when I am painting. Results may not be that important. But with all honesty - when somebody buys my art, it is a big deal for me. When somebody likes my paintings enough to bring them into their home and into their life - it is an amazing happy feeling. I want to paint more and better, and share my works with the world.

Thanks, Olga!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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