Thursday, December 12, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Rachel Petruccillo

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

From Rachel's DPW Gallery Page:

I'm an artist. It took me a long time to call myself that despite wanting to be an artist for most of my life.

It's not an unusual story among artists, I loved creating art as a child and by the time I was a teenager, it was the only thing I wanted to do with my life.

If only it had been that easy!
(click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started to paint seriously a few years ago. Although I went to an art college, my major was sculpture so I took only the required painting classes. As a child, my parents were supportive of my interest in making art. My mother brought me to art classes and art museums. I also spent many hours learning about wood working and photography from my father. It was in college when I secretly started wanting to be a painter. Looking back, I realize that much of my sculpture work was practically two-dimensional!

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

For nearly a decade, I made almost no art at all. I moved to New York City straight out of college with seriously grand delusions of becoming a professional artist. The problem was, I had no idea how to make that happen. I didn't have the discipline or tools necessary so I quickly found myself on a completely different path. That path led to a fourteen year career in marketing which provided a lot of opportunities and allowed me to travel the world but there was very little art in my life during those years. Part of the reason I didn't make art for so long was due to some limiting beliefs surrounding inspiration and what it means to be a "real" artist. The past six years since I left my first career have been so life-altering that I started to blog about my return to art. I hope my experience might help other artists realize it isn't too late!

Thrown Thunder
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

When I returned to making art, I started with a pencil. I began drawing bizarre candid portraits from photographs I had taken in my travels. When I decided to start painting a few years later, I needed something I could do on my kitchen counter so I used watercolor. I continued with portraiture and figurative work for a while. As I'm an avid fan of cycling, I've also done a lot of cycling-themed paintings and drawings. More recently, my focus has been landscape and still-life, and I use primarily acrylic and acrylic gouache. I've found that incorporating mixed media such as water-soluble pastels, charcoal pencils and embroidery thread helps me create a more layered surface and highlights elements that are important to me.

Sweets to the Wind
(click to view)

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

I've wanted to paint semi-abstract landscapes ever since college so I believe this will be a theme I'll stay with for a while. Watercolor doesn't appear on my palette too often now but the beauty of water-based media is that it can be used together so I'm sure it will appear in my work from time to time.   

Rising Out of the Mist (Cliffs of Moher)
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

My new obsession is gouache and using watercolor ground on wood panels. Also, this year I attended a demo on yupo (a synthetic paper) by artist Gretchen Warsen and I'm intrigued by the possibilities I've begun to see with some initial pieces.

Who or what inspires you most?

Open spaces inspire me. Whether it is an alpine pasture or low rolling fields, I love broad vistas. The changing light and the way it falls on the landscape captures my attention. I like to look for the place in the landscape where that transition in the atmosphere exists. Perhaps it is the drama of these kind of places that intrigue me. There are so many living artists whose work inspires me as well – although there is no comparison to seeing artwork in person, I do feel fortunate to have access to so much work online.

Slant of Light (County Kerry, Ireland)
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Fourteen years in a marketing career

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

Earlier this year, I started a daily painting practice. I have been making art somewhat regularly for years but my practice was inconsistent. Often I had trouble getting started so I thought a structured daily project would help. My husband suggested painting my cup of coffee every day. I did it religiously every day for more than one hundred days and found that in addition to the daily paintings, I became much more prolific. I've also become very protective of my creative time. It helps that I'm not a very social person, I'm happy to stay in for days on end!

Coffee Painting, Day 22, Cuppadaypainting
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

As I've gravitated to landscape painting recently, I find myself not just admiring nature but wanting to closely observe it so I can try to translate what I see and feel with paint. Sometimes a color combination or even a shadow will stop me in my tracks. I take pictures to help me remember something inspiring I've seen.   

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

A short attention span and the thrill of new materials help me avoid burnout and keep my work fresh! I work on a lot of pieces simultaneously and try new materials often. I also allow myself to change direction if I have lost my enthusiasm for a subject. Art-related podcasts and videos are also great sources of inspiration for me. If I need a creative jolt, I'll listen to or watch one of my favorites.

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

I'm learning how to focus and dig deeper. My focus is on a new series inspired by my travels in Ireland. I want to really delve into how those landscapes feel to me and figure out how to express that in paint.   

Silence to its Edge (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)
(click to view)

What makes you happiest about your art?

The process of making art is what brings me the most pleasure. I love the solitude of it. I love the time when my mind is clear and I'm just freely creating something. It's so hard to quiet my mind enough to get into that zone but it's the best feeling.

Thanks, Rachel!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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