I am so lucky to have a sister that I share a love of painting with. You may have seen her in previous blog posts. I thought it would be fun to ask her a bunch of questions about her career as a professional artist. Here it is!
What is your favorite thing about being an artist and least favorite?
I would describe the choice to be an artist at an early age a natural and everlasting desire to create. My mind and spirit are the most engaged and happy when I am creating something, anything…on the easel or in the garden. I would say even taking a dirty space and making it clean and organized! The idea that I can create and be a maker of things inspires me to do so, what freedom. I like the awareness that it can be inspirational and transformative for others too. Living the life of an artist is demanding for sure and while it can be thrilling, it is also draining at the same time. One doesn’t just turn their brain off…I am constantly absorbing the world around me and in a sense transposing it in my mind. Everything becomes of poem, a painting, a narrative.
Any advice or tips for new artists?
Just show up and work, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Don’t over think or analyze too much because that kills creativity and essentially puts a tourniquet on your impulses, thoughts and ideas. Always see the big picture first, laying out your ideas boldly with big shapes and simple values…build into the layers of detail and excitement over time. Be patient. Work on three to five pieces at once…it helps the flow in your studio especially when you need to wait for something to dry or just need a change of pace. Also, a series allows you to expand your thoughts and ideas with regard to your personal imagery and the stories you want to tell.
Describe one of your favorite paintings and the inspiration behind it?
Well, that’s like asking an artist what’s their favorite color! I suppose I am most pleased with my still life work. They are meditative and spiritual settings and paintings for me. I can come and go when I want to my favorite objects, re-arrange if I need – and take my time. They are quiet and unassuming allowing me to pursue my interests in understanding and transposing a three dimensional space onto a two dimensional surface. I consider myself a formalist in that sense because I enjoy traversing the canvas like a map, calculating the relationships that potentially reside at any place or moment. I love the idea of the perspectival grid, plumb lines and all the relationships one can find! I am inspired by the reward I find in observational drawing and painting. I enjoy the constant investigation, discovery and analyzing of visual elements like proportions, lights and darks, the location of things as they relate to compositional arrangements in front of me. I am also inspired by ordinary, mundane and everyday objects – sometimes finding them a metaphor for my life.
What are you currently working on?
Little sketches of objects I find on my daily walks in the country and small, alla prima paintings of interesting places I also see on my walks. I brought to the Finger Lakes many of my cityscapes from Chicago. In beginning of the summer was working on them from photos I’d taken. I had the photos up on a large screen to study and continue the work. At some point I lost complete interest in working like that, there is no excitement or feeling in that way of painting for me…it’s a completely different sensibility that I have struggled with on and off over the years. I like the energy and spirit of being in the “place” where I paint. I imagine I will continue to use media over the years, but not sure I’ll ever be completely comfortable with it.
A quiet mind. A place with plenty of light. An organized space with not too much clutter or noise. Be able to say no to things so you can be in the studio. Stay healthy.
Favorite art books?
I enjoy biographies for sure, I am currently re-reading – Fairfield Porter, A Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings, Watercolors and Pastels. My stack of favorites, include Cezanne, Corot, Pissarro, Wyeth, Euan Uglow, Lucien Freud, Mary Cassatt, Alice Neel, Lois Dodd, and Louis Matthiasdottir. I also enjoy reading and learning more about Art History – especially anything that has to do with 18th/19th Century French landscape painting, Contemporary American and British Figurative painters or the history of still life painting!
Favorite supplies and what is on your wish list?
The Moleskine sketchbook, definitely – both the watercolor paper and regular! My favorite brushes are Monarchs from Winsor & Newton, as well as Princeton Art & Brush filberts! Oil paints I like range from Old-Holland classic colors to Gamblin and Winsor/Newton professional paints. Painting on prepared paper is wonderful and making my own Belgian linen panels gives an original texture to my work. On my wish list for a while has been a pochade box made by Open M Box, Inc. (for my plein-air painting)
Favorite art apps?
I’m not an art app person I guess; I have icons on my phone for Pinterest and the like…but usually tap on saved icons from places in which I find engaging conversations and writings on art and art history. www.paintingperceptions.com www.twocoatsofpaint.com www.artobserved.com www.painters-table.com www.brooklyrail.com
Favorite art quotes?
There are 3 quotes I’ve had for many years taped to all of my studio walls. They are pretty ratty looking now and are the following:
“To sum up…I work without a theory…I am aware primarily of the forces involved, and find myself driven forward by an idea…which I can really only grasp…little by little…as it grows with the picture.” Matisse
“One must sometimes act quickly and with decision attack a thing with energy, trace the outlines as quickly as lightening. The hand may not tremble nor may the eye wander, but must remained fixed on what is before one. And one must be so absorbed in it that in a short time something is produced on the paper or the canvas that was not there before, so that afterwards one hardly knows how it got knocked into being.” Van Gogh
“Never, never, never, never give up” Winston Churchill
How do you handle rejection or negative critiques?
I’ve had many rejections over the years from not getting into exhibitions to not getting that certain teaching position. This is an inevitable part of an artistic life…and one does get used to it…it’s never fun. In terms of not getting into shows, one must realize that every judge and jury is different and they are considering many things in a work of art. Your work may be wonderful but not what the judge is looking for in the specific exhibition you applied to. Learn not to take it personally, that would be a waste of your energy, just keep working and try again…the accomplishment of getting into a show is worth the effort and time. “Negative” or less than desirable crits should be considered healthy and anticipated…can you imagine a teacher always saying, “Isn’t that a nice painting. You’re so talented”…where’s the learning in that! A good critique should be able to flow in a language that is helpful and worth listening to…one that engages and charges us to do better and continue growing and learning our craft. Over the years I have learned that when I feel like I hear something as negative, I try to read between the lines and find the slices of wisdom within.
Words of wisdom
Continue growing, learning and evolving…on every level and arena in your life…and remember, your best ideas always come in the shower!