Friday, January 17, 2020

DPW Spotlight Interview: Maria Snarska

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

From Maria's DPW Gallery Page:

Hello, I draw oil paintings and botanical drawings with a pen or pencil. Drawings can be seen and be purchased as a digital file here.

I am an artist since childhood. My parents always supported my passion for drawing and sculpture. I graduated from the Academy of Arts with a degree in graphics and am still on my way to excellence in drawing and painting. I have been painting realistic still lifes for the past seven years. I seek and find beauty everywhere and continue to improve my drawing technique. I love everything that I draw so much! And I see that my customers feel it!

I live and work in Kiev, Ukraine.

Original painting for sale and portraits to order, you can see here.

Please keep in mind that everyone who buys a picture in my store ArtVisible will get a portrait in pencil as a gift.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I began to draw as a child as all children do, and so I continue. My father was my first drawing teacher.

Last Green Leaves
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I painted in very different techniques such as tempera, watercolor, oil, acrylic, ink, pencil, pen, marker. I also sculpted sculptural portraits, was engaged in ceramics and relief. Now I mainly paint realistic still lifes and landscapes in oil and portraits in pencil. Oil has revealed great opportunities for the implementation of my ideas - an ideal technique for drawing in the style of realism. I don’t do sculpture at all now.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I don’t know exactly where my creative thought will lead me in the future. I will endlessly research all drawing techniques!

Custom Portrait
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

I am very inspired by the sunlight. Sunlight reveals the shape of objects and greatly changes all colors. It transforms and makes even the usual urban environment romantic and mysterious, fills it with mood. I live in the city but I have a garden and two parks nearby so I am surrounded by nature.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Usually, I go to my garden to collect a bouquet of flowers and make up a still life, supplement it, then wait for the necessary lighting for several days, then photograph and start painting. Sometimes I start to paint a picture from nature. I try to convey the harmony, mood, personality of each flower or fruit. When I draw, this is a special state of mind - calm. There are no technical secrets in the technique of my drawing. I try to draw every piece of the picture beautifully.

Still life with chrysanthemums and apples
(click to view)

How long do you need to paint one still life with oil?

All still lifes are very different and the time for painting with oil varies from one month to three times that. Little oil sketches I paint in one to three days.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Oh, this is terrible - I go from room to room and do all sorts of nonsense, but at the same time I think about important things.

Still life with lilies
(click to view)

How do you fight procrastination?

I tell myself that I need a result, not just employment. Sometimes it works.

When I have an urgent or compulsory job, I sit down in front of the easel and look at the canvas, not allowing myself to leave. After a while, I start mixing paints on the palette and finally paint with oil.

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

Just seizing the moment and working. I divide the day in half - morning and day for painting, evening for graphics. The deadline is very good for me.

(click to view)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I am happy when I can draw a picture of how I imagine it in my mind right the first time, without corrections and redraws!

I am happy when people like my paintings. I am very pleased that the community and the Daily Paintworks artists have written positive reviews for my drawings and paintings. This also supports me very much.

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

There really were periods in my life when I did not draw at all. For example, when my daughter was small. Now I have time for drawing - I paint at home. And I think my career as an artist will be actively developing right now!

Wild flowers and pears
(click to view)

Thanks, Maria!

© 2020 Sophie Marine

Thursday, January 9, 2020

DPW Spotlight Interview: Johanneke Strydom

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

From Johanneke's DPW Gallery Page:

Five years ago we left the city behind, and moved to the countryside in South Africa. We are still in the process of building up a run-down farm. An adventure in itself! In this new setting, I rediscovered myself as artist, being in awe of the ever changing beauty of the landscape and seasons around me. My 'studio' is a very rustic wooden cabin in a poplar grove. Surrounded by trees I came to love the silence and solitude. Here I spend many happy hours trying to capture the feel of what my eyes see. Apart from that, I have a full life as farmer's wife and homeschooling our four children. Too many good and worthwhile things to do in a day...

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My mother tells the story of me (age two) sitting between her and my father on the endless roads in Namibia, happily drawing for hours on end. Totally caught up in the act of creating. Creating became my special place where I felt most alive and at peace. My parents supported my artistic interest, and provided art classes for me since I was six. After school I studied kindergarten teaching, and in my free time I started painting in acrylics, and then later in oils. But it remained only a hobby up to three years ago, when I read Carol Marine's book "Daily Painting". I was so inspired, I started to paint a small painting every day. And I have not stopped yet... I find it a wonderful way to stay in the creative flow, and practice, while not committing a lot of time to a large painting. It can speed up your learning tremendously.

Where do you find the time to paint?

When my children were young, it was really difficult to focus and have enough space in my head to spend enough time to progress in painting. I take my hat off to professional artists with small children. Now that my children are older, people still ask me where I find the time to paint. My answer: "I don't find the time, I make the time." I think it has a lot to do with mindset. I am learning to value my art making more, so I give it a large chunk of time everyday. 

These autumn days
(click to view)

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

What mediums have you experimented with? And which one has 'stuck'?

I started out in watercolor, pencils, charcoal and acrylics. They were all great fun, and have so many possibilities. But when I found oil paint, I was hooked... The intensity, the rich colors, the creamy texture, all of it... The possibilities with oils are endless. There are so many ideas and techniques I still want to explore. I will always look for ways to better express myself, to capture the essence of a subject, and to say more with less.

What inspires you most?

Creation. I feel a deep connection with the Creator when I am out in nature. Painting is foremost a spiritual experience to me.

I grew up in wild open spaces, with my father being a zoologist and taking us all over Southern Africa. It feels as if the African landscape is in my blood. It can stir me, and even drive me to tears. It urges me to express it, to capture something of the fleeting moment, of that which lay beyond words. I feel a connection with the land that I can best describe with a brush and thick oil paint. That is why I tend to paint fast and intuitively. Putting my impression down as raw and honest as I can. 'Plein air' painting is the ultimate art form to me, and I make it my biggest priority in my painting practice to paint on location as often as I can.

Cliffs of Mafube
(click to view)

Who are important influences on your work?

Edgar Payne for his use of color and brushwork, Sorolla for his quality of light, Georgia O'Keeffe for her search for solitude and immersing herself in the desert landscape, the Russian Impressionists, to name a few. But at the top of my list will be Kevin Macpherson. I love his loose brushwork and sensitive use of color. But what inspires me most is his Pond Project: a challenge to himself to paint the same view from his window over a pond, for every day of the year, in all seasons and times of day. I so admire determination like that!

I am thankful for all influences and see it as inspiration to find my own path.   

What does procrastination look like for you?

It looks like wasting my time. Keeping myself busy with things that are not mine to do, that does not benefit me or anybody else. But what procrastination really is, is fear. Fear of making, fear of being vulnerable and stepping out and the fear of failing. I know these feelings well, and work hard to overcome them daily.

There are great books to read on overcoming fear in the creative process. I can recommend "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.

Road to Montagu
(click to view)

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

I would say to simplify my life. We moved to a farm five years ago, and here we live a very simple life with very little intrusion from the outside world. I learned to see my art as my 'work'. And I will tell my children I am going to work when I go to my studio. My art must have priority in my mind, before I will give it priority in my life.

And to do my best work, I must look after myself. I keep my life as uncomplicated as possible. It is important to eat healthy, get enough sleep and surround myself with uplifting things and people, as far as I can.

That forms a good foundation, to make it as easy as possible to do my work. I have a loose schedule for everyday with enough time not to feel rushed in the process. I get up early, get in the right mindset, and then start creating. I don't always know what I will paint. I don't always feel inspired.  But I will go and do something. I will start with something. Like Picasso said: 'Inspiration exists, but you have to find it working.'

I will also challenge myself at times. That commitment helps to make the time. At the moment I am busy with a thirty-one day creative challenge: to paint a small painting from life for every day of the month of January. Just to get myself going for the New Year. And forming the habit of daily painting from life. You can follow me on Instagram: johannekestrydom and join me!     

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I try to keep my eyes and heart open to feel what speaks to me. I love to travel and see new vistas, and be able to respond spontaneously to what I see. It is more like a dialogue. I 'feel' the inspiration by what I see, and then respond with a brush and paint.

I work a lot with small thumbnail sketches to get a strong design/composition before I start a painting. But try not to intellectualize anything.

I also like to do short series of one subject that speaks to me.

Eucalyptus Sunset
(click to view)

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

When I get tight in the studio, the best medicine for me is to go outside and do small color studies from life. I have a small sketchbook where I make small 2"x 3" oil sketches. They take 2-5 minutes each: no time for detail. I only put down color notes as accurately as possible. It refreshes me instantly. And helps to keep my work in the studio fresh and loose.

To avoid burnout, I try to live at an easy pace. I aim for a balance between self discipline and self grace. I take off one day a week for reflection, inspiration gathering and family time. I think it is important for an artist to be engaged in a rich life, full of experiences. Inspiration can come to you any time and in any place. Just keep your artist's eye open.

Here are some more ways I get inspired:

- I try to do a painting trip every few months. I love to really get into the wilderness and down to earth. My main aim on a trip like that is to do as many small color studies on location that I can. To immerse myself into the landscape and to really feel it. An experience like that becomes a well of inspiration for months to come.

- I look at my favorite artist's work. Really look. How they achieved a certain effect. When I get into a problem with a painting, I will go and look how some master handled the same subject.

- I limit my painting time. It works! After a day or two I can't wait to get back to my easel...

Nguni Calf
(click to view)

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

The business side of being an artist. Where to sell, how to price my work etc.  It is a steep learning curve, and not my favorite part of being an artist. But what I do like is making connections with other artists and clients, meeting amazing people, and building relationships. 

What makes you happiest about your art?

When I feel connected through the process of painting. To God, to nature, to myself, to other people. I find art to be a most precious gift to enjoy and share!

Thanks, Johanneke!

© 2020 Sophie Marine

Thursday, January 2, 2020

DPW Spotlight Interview: Jimmy Longacre

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

From Jimmy's DPW Gallery Page:

It’s a thrill to paint the pictures, but it's important to me that my paintings engage you, the viewer. That's what motivates the designing of my painting. When painting outdoors I select whatever catches my attention for a study directly from nature. Back in the studio, I compose the ones that stand out to me, and that's done with you in mind. "Hey, look at this!" Besides enjoying the scene, I hope the design and color will excite your senses, that the brushwork and the look of the paint will interest you. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Like so many painters, my interest in art started very young. My grade school notebooks were filled with drawings of Davy Crockett, Superman, cowboys and Indians, airplanes and caricatures, to share with my friends. It became evident that art would be a big part of my life. 

The first painters that caught my attention were the awesome masters of the Golden Age of American Illustration and the American Impressionists. I was stunned by those amazing paintings. I graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art, and then earned a Master of Fine Art degree from Syracuse University. After art school, I had a family to care for, and I worked as a freelance illustrator for twenty-five years, which I am so grateful for. More than the abstract impressionism popular in art schools at that time, illustration gave me the solid background in the skills necessary to make strong pictures. I taught drawing and painting while on the faculties of The University of Texas College of Fine Art and Austin Community College. During that time, I was continually studying and learning how to paint. I decided I would focus on becoming the best painter I could be.

On Flat Creek
(click to view)

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

What medium do you use, and why?

Over the years, I have worked with every medium I could get my hands on. Now, other than preparation sketches, all of my work is done in oil. That’s where the fun is for me. I love the paint quality, the expressiveness of brushwork, and the broad variety of technical exploration possible in handling the paint.

What inspires you most?

The out-of-doors world. Most of my paintings begin outdoors, in one way or another. I use my own outdoor paintings, sketches, notes and photographs. That's where the interpretation begins for me. At the beginning, I spent fifteen years painting outdoors to learn first hand the effects of light, shade, color, value and atmosphere. A few of my paintings may be finished on site, but at this point I'm more interested in using my outdoor work as motive and information for work to be completed in my studio. Design inspires me, because that’s what animates the reason I’m making a painting. It all has to do with focus, balance, harmony and simplification.

Blaze of Autumn
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I describe what I'm doing as Subjective Realism. Again, although I paint things rooted in representational reality, it isn’t the scene or things in it that inspires me to paint. It’s my interpretation that makes it all fun. The idea for a painting will more or less spring from the study of facts I find to be true in the scene, but they become a resource for what I’m trying to do, rather than the objective. The inspiration is in trying to communicate one thing I respond to, by design.

What techniques have helped you avoid burnout, and to keep your work fresh?

I think we painters all deal with burnout, or we’re not making progress. Painting is not easy, and the intensity of focus, study and work necessary to learn and grow can now and then lead to creative blind alleys that sneak in one way or another. I find that the feelings of being blocked, and unproductive (burnt-out) often are indicators of our approaching readiness to raise our work to the next level. Our brain is working on integrating the skills and understanding of what we think we need to accomplish. It feels as if we’re not getting any “wins” and we’ve lost our creative get up and go. 

Rio Grande Vista
(click to view)

Here’s one way I deal with burnout. Decide not to paint for a while. Intentionally take a break, without a time limit (hours and days undefined). Take out a notebook and pencil. Ask yourself what you’re trying to do in your work. Ask what you want to be doing. Write this stuff down as clearly as you can write, and set it aside. Now, relax, go back to the fundamentals, and consider what can be done with the basic elements and principles of the visual language. (Elements: shape, size, value, color, texture… Principles: dominance, contrast, gradation, repetition with variety, harmony, unity…) Now, get into your collection of samples from two or three of your favorite painters. Pick a few that stand out to you and look for examples of the elements and principles in their work. Final step: Don’t just try to go back to painting. Review some of your own work and ask how you can improve it in some of these specific ways. For re-starters, give yourself an exercise or two that you will use to focus on just one thing at a time. Perform the exercises without any pressure that it must result in “good work”. Loosen up. Relax. Just have fun with it. Reconnect with what you like about painting.

Believe me, you didn’t “trick” yourself into becoming a painter. Our gut wants to grasp the wholeness of what excites us visually, and it likes getting granular about what we CAN DO to get that excitement into our own work.

Taos Blues
(click to view)

What are you focused on learning about right now as an artist?

I’m working on how powerfully simplification affects my work. Simple shapes, simple value and color relationships. Simple everything! These things give me the grist for my mill in creating more effective designs and compositions. Simple relationships give our paintings more vitality, balance and harmony. Clarity in simplification allows our paint handling to grow more confident, and more interesting to viewers.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The ability to communicate to others the beauty I’ve found. To be able to say, “Hey, world, look at this!”, and make it enjoyable and worth their time. I’m not interested in giving a literal account of  ‘things’ or ‘reality’ as I find it. I enjoy using design, color and paint to share something more poetic with the viewer. I think that it's the interpretation that makes the work, and hope you will enjoy being involved.

Late October Noon
(click to view)

Thanks, Jimmy!

© 2020 Sophie Marine