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

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