Thursday, April 1, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Tracy Hurley

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

From Tracy's DPW Gallery Page:

I am a daily painter with a habit of painting in the morning, before I do anything else. By the end of my morning session, I know I have been creative for the day, which is a little gift to myself. This habit contributes to my happiness, and I recommend it to anyone.

I have always loved art. I am drawn to looking at the natural world to see if a portion can be framed into a compelling composition. On walks in nature, I take my camera in the hope of finding birds. It feels like a treasure hunt. I try to get close-ups where I can see feather structure, subtle colors, and the flash of light in their eyes. I use many of these as reference photos for paintings. Birds were among the first subjects I wanted to paint.

I live in Southern California, having grown up in Indiana, where my parents and siblings still live. I met my husband here, and we started our family, which now includes 2 kids and a few cats. My cats are the most willing of models, so in addition to birds you may also see them, with a few other subjects along the way.

For more of my art, please see my Instagram page at @tmwhurley.

Thank you for visiting!

What did you want to be growing up?

I wish I knew! I was a late bloomer in figuring out what I want to be, and I’m not sure that I’ve figured it out yet, even at the tender age of fifty-six.

If I were to live my youth over, I would focus more on creating art, and I say that because I’m enjoying art so much now. Instead, I took a science path: I studied biology, got a PhD, and worked in research labs. Some people (other than me) are suited to this work, and I met many brilliant, creative, inquisitive scientists doing clever experiments. My own career satisfaction required a fork in the road. I enrolled in a science communication course, which pointed me along my current path. In my day-job (of twenty years!) we create animations about science. I write/draw storyboards, record voice-over, and do some animation work. It’s a lot of good variety, and I feel happy to have a product at the end of the day. Ever since I had kids, I have worked part time at this job, which also makes it easier to include art into my mornings.

When did your artistic journey begin?

I remember drawing as a child, but I wasn’t diligent or a constant doodler with pencil in hand. I took a few art classes in high school, college, and later in continuing ed classes. I loved looking at art and I had the idea that the artists that I admired simply had a huge amount of innate talent (and they probably did, in part), and so I felt discouraged that my own efforts were not impressive. I only recently cottoned on to the idea that practice makes perfect (who knew?), or at least makes a little better. I wish this lesson had sunk in earlier in my life, because I would have been much more systematic in my hobbies, not getting discouraged by a bad performance or drawing, just trying again and again if I knew there was a nugget of pleasure in there somewhere.

A Jewel of Nature
(click to view)

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

Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you "get back on the horse"?

I made very little art while I was studying biology and working in research labs. My personal art-making was re-ignited several years ago, inspired in part by Carol Marine’s book on daily painting, as well as by looking at art, birds, and other beauty in the natural world. Also helpful is that I have a friend who acts as my art-accountability partner. We send texts to each other most days, showing our creative efforts, offering suggestions or a thumbs-up (or a ha ha). In this way, my art is not just for myself, but my friend sees it, too, and that helps.

What mediums and genres do you gravitate to?

I am currently painting with acrylics. I have tried and liked oils in the past but worry about ventilation and toxicity issues. So acrylics it is! Before painting with acrylics, I was making bird drawings using colored pencils, and then I discovered the Procreate app to make digital paintings on my iPad, from the comfort of my lounge chair. I have spent a lot of time with Procreate. I love to look at representational art, and this is what I paint as well.

Do I Have Your Attention?
(click to view)

Which ones don't appeal?

Although I admire watercolor paintings, I believe that watercolor artists require a more devil-may-care attitude (or the opposite of that in the form of meticulous pre-planning), because there are stricter limitations on correcting mistakes and no delete button. I have yet to find that attitude in myself, but never say never!

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

I don’t know that I’ve pinpointed it yet. I would like to paint more expressively, but that style may not be in me. I look at my gallery of art and think that they all look like they were painted by the same person, so perhaps I have landed on a style, in spite of myself.

Sycamore with Black Phoebe
(click to view)

Name an artist, well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

I follow a lot of amazing artists, going down rabbit holes to see as much of their work as is available online. This week’s rabbit hole is wallpapered with the paintings of Jennifer Anderson, a contemporary artist in the UK. Oh those luminous faces! I love her work.

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

Keep up a daily habit of art, and consider the habit itself to be your goal.

Just Resting My Eyes!
(click to view)

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

My daily habit is to go to my art space every day after I wake up. I’m the early riser of the family, so I have a small window of uninterrupted time. I was inspired to do this from hearing other artists describe their process. I don’t require myself to do much, which eliminates a feeling of burden. Usually I work for an hour, but sometimes just five minutes.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

I try to frame the “failures” as part of the learning process. I’m also convinced that a steady, regular effort will bring me over most hurdles. Then, if nothing seems to be working regarding a painting, I see no problem with quitting it and starting a new one. I can't forget to mention here that my family is full of sweeties who encourage and promote me, and that helps keep me positive.

Scrub Jay in the Garden
(click to view)

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art? What does success mean to you personally?

These are hard questions to answer after saying that my goal is the habit itself. I would like to sell my paintings, for sure, but my main goal is to do the painting every day. If I can do that, I have won (that is what I tell myself!)

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

Can I count that DPW asked to spotlight my art?

Dobie Love
(click to view)

Thanks, Tracy!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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