Thursday, April 28, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Bunny Griffeth

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

From Bunny's DPW Gallery Page: 

Although I have always painted all my life, when I retired from nursing I started the discipline of painting every day. Soon I was invited to illustrate a children's book, which led to other books, one of which I authored and illustrated. I love painting a lot of different beautiful things - birds, animal portraits, flowers, landscapes and ocean scenes including turtles and underwater sea life. 

Peach Tulip
(click to view)

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

What did I want to be when I grew up? 

I think I always wanted to be an artist. I always looked for creative things to do. We had a children’s encyclopedia with books ‘Things to make and Things to Do’ and I would go through those for hours. I remember falling in love with different colors in the crayon box. I was always drawing. In elementary school I was the ‘go to’ person in our half hour art class on Fridays to draw on their paper whatever we were drawing.

When did your artistic journey begin?
When I was a teenager looking for a job I made a portfolio of my work and went on an interview for a position as an artist. The man was very kind and I think amused at my boldness (and lack of expertise and training). He let me down easily and I knew I would need to have classes, but that wasn’t possible. So I had to get a job doing office work, but continued in my spare time to draw and paint. 

Pink Lily
(click to view)

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

Yes, I was away from painting when I was married and my children were born. As they started to get a little bit older I could sometimes paint but I was using oils at the time and it was hard and messy. When I worked as a nurse I didn’t have a lot of spare time, with four children and a full time job, plus overtime. I did take some classes at RI School of Design in the evenings which were great.

I decided to take a small watercolor class at an artist’s studio one night a week after work. That at least ensured I would be painting one night a week! She made once a year trips to Block Island for 2 weeks which I started doing every year. When I retired is when I began doing artwork full time. 

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal? 

With any medium it’s a question of getting familiar with how it works and working with it. I gravitated to watercolors for ease of clean up but have really come to love working in them. I took portrait classes with pastels which I absolutely love also. I tried a lot of different mediums and the only one I really don’t like is oil pastels. 

(click to view)

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

I think that comes with just the process of painting. You start to realize that certain things appeal to you and it affects your painting. 

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

There’s so many great artists. I remember as a child looking at a Rembrandt painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the hand and just being in awe of how it was painted. The detail was amazing. John Singer Sargent is one of my most favorite painters. I love how he paints the lights and his brush strokes are just gorgeous.

(click to view)

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

 I would say to look for and take all the artist classes that you can. 

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

One of the things that helped me the most is to have a special place for painting with whatever you need to make you feel comfortable that’s all ready to go. Setting up is tedious. 

Shih tzu Dog 
(click to view)

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

If you love doing something you will push forward! Having a goal helps. When I retired I had a goal to make a blog for selling my artwork. I spent a lot of time researching everything that had to do with blogging. After a year I was contacted to do the children’s illustrations in a book already approved for publication. I think our first reaction to something we’ve never done before is to doubt. If you believe in yourself and take a step forward, God meets you the rest of the way. 

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art? 

I love to paint and it’s meditative and enjoyable. Just to be able to keep doing what I’m doing!

Basking in the Sun
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally? 

I think having people that love my work gives me incentive, and seeing how it makes them happy. I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories about paintings I did that just touched them. One was a starling bird that I loved for the reflections on his wings in the sunlight, and the woman who bought it told me a whole story of how she rescued her starling bird and it didn’t want to leave when it was ready. It sits on her shoulder and it talks, she said.  

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

My first book that I illustrated was doing ‘The WaterFire Duck’ with the author Kiki Latimer. Working with artist Barnaby Evans who originated the WaterFire installation was an honor. The book’s initial debut was at WaterFire in Providence. I had been on Block Island with the art group and I got home with the newspaper calling me for an interview, and a message from the news station who wanted to do an interview with the author and I. It was very exciting. 

WaterFire is an art installation that spans the whole Providence River and thousands throng there in the summer months. They play beautiful music through speakers along the river and there are fires burning all along -- so you have all of your senses involved. They have boats with volunteers who replace the wood throughout the night, and gondola rides and boat rides. There’s all kinds of other activities going on in the city surrounding the river, depending on what the theme is of the night. 

Kiki and I were honored to light the fires that night, with these giant torches in a procession through the crowds gathered there. It began with a huge gong, and then one by one the braziers were lit in a ceremonial fashion as the eerie but beautiful music played. 
Here’s a 4 minute video you might enjoy: 

(click to view)

Thanks, Bunny!

© 2022 Maddie Marine

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