Thursday, November 7, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Judy Crowe

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

From Judy's DPW Gallery Page:

Judy loves the works of the Old Masters but the Impressionist painters are the painters her most admires for their vibrant use of color and individual brushwork. As it did for the impressionists, everyday subjects inspire her: flowers, landscapes, figures. Judy has been featured in several national artists publications and won many awards most recently being included in Fine Art Conniseur's floral feature 'Gather Ye Rosebuds'. Her goal is to add beauty and value to our world through her work.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting twenty-five years ago and have been a professional artist for probably at least fifteen to twenty. It happened gradually for me as I had young children at home. After a move to the Houston area, I began taking some lessons from a professional artist in downtown Houston, in the Heights, Lindy Daly. The company I worked for as an outside sales representative did not have an opening at the time of our move and then I became mom to John… and so decided to stay home with the kids. I am not entirely the “stay at home” type of mom though and decided to seek out art instruction after dabbling in painting T-shirts which was the ‘thing” at the time.

I loved to draw as a child and drew my paper dolls with long flowing dresses. I loved that but that’s as far as it went. I never knew a person could consider drawing or painting as a profession. Lindy, however, supported herself into her senior years with her art. She was funny, kind, a wonderful painter and I attribute her with giving me the passion for painting. I grew to love it and still do today.

Cinderella Pumpkin
(click to view)

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

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

Yes, As many women do, I had a family and other responsibilities including caring for an ill parent. Thankfully I’ve been able to juggle these responsibilities fairly well but usually did not paint a lot during the summer months when my kids were out of school. Although, I decided that this was my job and never gave it up entirely; I just couldn’t paint as much as I would have wanted to. I always felt my family came first.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I’ve painted with watercolor and pastel but not that much. I have painted a lot with acrylic and of late have been doing a lot of gouache plein air paintings. Gouache seems to be closer to oils in my mind because they reactivate when you wet them even after a time on the canvas - something that acrylics don't do… I’ve found they are great to take outdoors for the sake of convenience but I am first and foremost an oil painter and don’t ever see that changing. 

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

I think Gouache will stick but, as I said, I am and always will be primarily an oil painter. 

China and Primroses

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I’m really looking forward to exploring gouache more and seeing what I can do with it… I have some ideas that I want to pursue with that medium and love some of the gouache painters out there that are inspiring. This medium seems to be making a come back. It’s my understanding that there was an article on gouache in the last plein air magazine but I have not read it yet.

Who or what inspires you most?

Of course the standard answers to this question are also true for me: Sargent, Anders Zorn, Sorolla, Richard Schmid, Edgar Payne, Fechin. Daniel Gerhartz, there are so many. I have to say though that the very young, new artists out there that are exploring new and different ideas are so very inspiring… and thankfully we have social media so that we can see and experience some of those artists' work that are living masters, I think.

What does procrastination look like for you?

That is a very tricky question.  I think starting something new is always difficult, whether large or small; if I have an idea and a painting in my head, I am better at getting at it but if I cannot seem to grasp my vision for a painting that I thought about then I have a hard time ‘getting to it’…

Spring Gone Wild

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

I have a routine and try not to venture from it unless I simply have to. I get up and do the necessary things I need to do and then head to the studio. Thankfully, I have a place where I can work away from the house with all its distractions. I haven’t always had that and rented space for many years. Now my studio is next door to my home. I usually spend anywhere from four to seven hours daily in the studio including weekends unless I have another commitment. This is a job and a commitment for me. I want to do it to the best of my ability… so I found out a long time ago that in order to make that happen I have to do it. I’ve turned down lunch with friends and joining clubs to paint but I really believe this is worth it and a ‘calling’ by God that I have to pursue. So I guess you can say it’s an internal drive that keeps me going even when I feel down or don’t feel I’m making any progress. 

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I used to paint entirely still life (that worked for me having children at home) and so the one fun social thing that I did was visit antique shops to pick up 'stuff.' My studio is full of items for still life. Those items give me ideas... I also wanted to move to an area that has a lovely landscape. We don’t live in the Houston area anymore and so I can literally go out the back door to paint if I want to and I sometimes just drive around until I come across something that says it wants to be painted.

I have fallen in love with lots of different subject matter over the years. If I get really stuck and need to develop new ideas, I start looking online or at books that I have collected to get ideas. There’s a book out called "Steal Like an Artist." I also heard a quote from Picasso, "Good artists copy, great artists steal." David Bowie said, "The only art I will ever study is stuff I can steal from." Even Richard Schmid addresses this in his best selling book Alla Prima… He said all artists steal from each other. Not literally, of course, that is plagiarism, but all artists have borrowed ideas from their predecessors from day one. I found the above quote by listening to a YouTube segment from a fellow on Blender guru. Here are his favorite books “that every artist should read.” The name of the Youtube video is “The Habits of Effective Artists.”

In the Stillness
(click to view)

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

In some ways, I feel I have become stagnant and have lost freshness… Honesty here. So, I am becoming a student again. I’ve decided to "take off” this year. I’m still painting of course, daily, but I have decided in order to move forward, I need a break…  I’m an associate member of this organization and a signature member of that organization and even a master of another one. I’ve found myself painting for ’those’ instead of who I am so I am taking a sabbatical from all of it. I’m trying to refocus and paint what I love. Who said "paint what you love and love what you paint"? I think the down side to social media is thinking that we have to be those other people to get into shows… and to some degree I think that’s true but is it worth it? This year I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to just be me. I know we can’t all do that but I think no matter where you are, you can do it to some degree. I’m hoping to sell some of my little gouache paintings for less than my oils in order to do some self evaluation… and so far they seem to be popular with folks.

So a little social media, good. Too much, bad. So answering the question, be out there in some way... look at social media, steal, but I need to discover my own work again and I am using videos, other peoples' ideas, and my own thinking time to figure out where I want to be right now and down the road… I’m resting my mind and as the fellow in the Youtube video I mentioned above, I am trying to really focus to not become stagnant.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
(click to view)

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

I am taking an online art course this year… it’s really helping me get back to basics. It focuses mostly on portraiture but this artist has touched on the basics a lot so I’m excited about revisiting those ideas and think it will help me in my own work.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I’m happiest when I come up with something from the blank canvas that I feel is worthwhile… and beautiful… I have no interest in making a political or social statement.

I’ve been told, “Your paintings make me happy”…and that makes me so happy to hear things like that. I recently received a card from a young lady from Austin who bought one of my still life paintings. She said in her note that she hasn’t hung it yet but it is sitting in her kitchen and when she passes by it and sees it, it makes her feel happy. What better joy could anyone ask for than to put a little joy in someone else’s life… through something that you created. With God’s help, I hope to continue to do that as long as I can.

Thanks, Judy!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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