Thursday, September 3, 2020

DPW Spotlight Interview: Laurie Johnson Lepkowska

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

From Laurie's DPW Gallery Page:

Hi! I studied art in college and like so many, life got in the way and carried me in another direction... later in life I made the decision to quit my job, sell my home and study full time at the Scottsdale Artist School... taking over thirty-two workshops and classes; and studying with such notable artists as Michael Malm, Kim English, Dan Gerhartz, Sherry McGraw, Nancy Chaboun and Peggi Kroll Roberts. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

When I was twelve years old, my dad brought home some drawing paper, pencils, an easel and other art supplies just for me. I must have shown some desire to create art that he would think to do that. I remember drawing every night in our living room after that, so he sent me to Saturday art classes at the local art center. I painted there for years. I definitely was just an average kid painting silly things but I learned to love the atmosphere of creativity and loved the smells of paint and turpentine and anything that smelled like an art studio.

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

Oh yes, after high school I headed off to college and planned to be someone famous in the art world and then love entered the picture. One day, while I was drawing a fountain on campus, a young photographer asked if he could take my picture and years later we married. Life just got in the way. I went to work so he could finish his studies and become a CPA and after he graduated I stayed in sales. Many moons later, I realized I took a wrong turn and so now divorced with no children, decided to take a leap of faith and move to Scottsdale, Arizona to study art full time. That is where I learned the true fundamentals of painting and drawing. I remember a great instructor saying to the class when we were all complaining about how hard it was to produce a good painting - "If you want to do something easy, then become a brain surgeon. You can be one in seven years."

Rose Colored Glasses
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have yo
u experimented with?

I experiment and waste lots of money trying all kinds of supplies. I'm sure the people at the local art store love seeing me because I never leave without spending at least $150... and after experimenting, I always come back to oil painting. I have found a true love for gouache and I also love slow drying acrylics when I paint at home. I'd love to try sculpture at some point in my life.

Who or what inspires you most?

I LOVE to go to art museums - I'll be the person tearing up in the corner because I just got to see a John Singer Sargent in real life. There is nothing more wonderful - I remember one year being in Paris with an art group and we walked through the Louvre at night and I remember staring at this wonderful little Vermeer painting in the moonlight and pinching myself because I was there. The masters like Sargent, Sorolla, Cassatt, Bouguereau and Zorn all inspire me to keep going. I'm sure I'll never be in the art history books (like I thought in college) but damn, the journey's been GREAT!... who cares!

Sunlit
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Knowing you have to get some paintings done for a show and not knowing where to begin, so you freeze. I've been there and it's not a good feeling. 

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

I still work full time, so I get up every morning at 4:00 AM and paint or draw until I have to get ready for the day. I always get in a good couple of hours of checking out art on Daily Paintworks and Instagram and then starting a painting or producing a drawing. I've been doing that for many years and can see the difference in my work. 

Inspired by the Beauty Around Us
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

There are times that people walk into my studio or I see someone in a store and I'll ask if I can paint or draw them. So far no one has called the police. I always have success when someone's beautiful face inspires me. I also look for photos that make me smile - lately I've been on SKTCHY and have found so many interesting photos to inspire me.

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

I often try new colors on my palette after studying other artists' work - lately I've been putting more blues and greens in faces and I'm liking the results. I also take two painting classes a year to have an artist pass through my life for a few days and learn from but sadly that hasn't this year... yet !

Distracted
(click to view)

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

Patience for sure... there are so many great artists on Instagram that I admire and wish that I could paint one tenth as well as - I know it will take time and I can't compare myself... I just have to keep learning and eventually I'll see the improvement . I always get excited when I think, wow ten years from today, I'll be a really good painter... maybe... hmmmm... maybe that brain surgeon idea wasn't such a bad one!

What makes you happiest about your art?

That I always have a friend. I am never lonely. We will be "buds" to the end!

The Copper Pot
(click to view)
Thanks, Laurie!

© 2020 Sophie Marine

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