ART: FAQ

Q. How long have you been doing art?
A.
Since I could hold a crayon…and I never really stopped.

Q. Where did you learn to do this kind of work?
A.
I had a foundation in a state university fine art education degree, and another degree at an art institute in industrial design. My foundation was in photorealism, and then it evolved. But my work in this site is far more abstract than I ever produced in a scholastic environment. My current work is a manifestation of a great deal of change and growth triggered inside me by intrinsic motivation as well as outside events, and I used my creativity to solve problems, to vent frustrations, to explore the unknown, to interpret feelings and to convey reactions. Eventually, being literal just didn’t thrill me anymore, so I experimented and dove into full-bore abstraction, and then pulled back to something that clicked for me. It is a way of seeing that I was nearly blind to before. It’s very liberating.

Q. What kind of materials do you use?
A.
In paint, I work chiefly in acrylics. I like how versatile they are – they can be opaque or applied in washes; they can be combined with other substances to incorporate collage elements or impasto textures; they dry quickly and force me to work quickly and instinctively. There are a lot of different medium types that I can add to afford a wide variety of special effects, including mimicking the looks of other types of painting. But pure acrylics alone leave me just enough time to say only what’s necessary, and say it honestly. They’re cheaper than oils and don’t require the ventilation that oil painting does; they’re better for the environment. When drawing, I prefer graphite, Prismacolor pencils, pastels, and even ball-point pen. I range from crushing the tooth of the paper in one effect to delicately grazing the surface in others; a good repertoire in technique serves well to achieve certain results. Sometimes I like mixing different media together for exciting special effects; that’s a newer frontier for me. You can learn more about the emotional element in my process in my Artist Statement.

Q. You work in a lot of media; what else do you do?
A.
I’m creative in a lot of areas. I sing, play piano and ukulele, write a lot of short stories and poetry, and design furniture. I don’t do a lot of 3D work anymore because I don’t currently have the proper facilities to accommodate that. I also like cooking and love studying foreign languages, and when I can manage it, I love to travel with my hubby (or just hang out with him anywhere). I’m getting more active in the musical realm composing and performing; you can read/hear more about that here and here.

Q. What inspires you?
A.
I can be inspired by almost anything, and sometimes seemingly nothing. Of course I get inspiration from my husband, my family, my cats, my back yard – many times this inspiration is more of a generalized attitudinal nature. Life experience has provided plenty of stimulation for work. Specific little details can inspire me for individual pieces, like the pattern of shadows on a mixture of ground cover, or the memory of the sticky heat in some places I’ve traveled, or the pensive mood in a good jazz tune, or some tired leaf I spot in a sea of rocks, or anything I notice in a different context, especially if in my mind’s eye there is some symbolic content. I’ve been inspired by abstract remnants of self-imposed brainstorming exercises for my work (which has included signage, drafting, architectural model building, graphic design and more), by things I see while driving around, by clothing showcased on the runway, even by misunderstanding commercials I wasn’t paying strict attention to!  Inspiration can hit me like a truck right out of my sleep, or it can elude me until I capture it by stubbornly working anyway.

Q. Do you have a favorite artist who has influenced your work?
A.
Don’t make me choose; I have so many favorites! Some faves produce work compatible in style to what I do I suppose, but some favorites’ works look so alien from my own that you wouldn’t guess them to be some I would like. But I see brilliance in so many different things! And as much as I’m influenced by everything I see (we all are), I can’t say any of them are direct influences. I really am a melting pot of my experiences. But to answer the question, some favorite artists are (in no particular order): Wassily Kandinsky, Pierre August Renoir, Franz Marc, Thomas Gainsborough, M.C. Escher, Caspar David Friederick, Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Franz Kline, Marc Chagall, Henri de Toulous-Lautrec, Kay Nielsen, Alphonze Mucha, Marcel Duchamp, Edgar Degas, Jan Vermeer, Edward Hopper, Henri Matisse, Erte, Maxfield Parrish, Andy Warhol, Piet Mondrian, Vincent Van Gogh, Vance Kirkland, Albert Alcalay, Salvador Dali – I could go on and on about the genius of these and so many more, even some whom you’ve likely never heard of before. I’m so grateful for the gift of sight, and for the existence of museums and galleries, and well nowadays, even the Internet.

Q. How do you start a drawing or a painting?
A.
I usually have an idea in my head; sometimes it’s vague – particularly if it’s from a dream – so I concentrate on making it form more clearly in my mind, and take mental notes to get it firm in my memory. If colors aren’t clear I “paint” them in my head – that goes into the “notes” too. Then it comes out in pencil on paper or canvas, roughly at first. Mind and hand work in unison to get the composition balanced and engaging. If the composition is found lacking, no amount of charm after the fact will correct it – good composition is the most essential step. If it’s wrong, I erase and revise it. Doodles are a different story. Sometimes I start moving my hand around on the page with no plan at all, and let the random marks start telling me what to do next. I learned that from Albert Alcalay’s example. The doodles are not all winners; you must discern: throw out the bad and keep the good. Some of my most interesting abstract drawings started out that way. Know this: there is no one right method; try several out and find what one or ones work best for you and your creative process. There will be an entry on composition, as well as entries on the elements and principles of design to flesh that out, in my Art Blog.

Q. What programs do you use to create your digital art?
A.
Digital Art is something I’ll be adding more to on this site down the road; those who remember my old site will remember I had more samples on it. I started early. Seemingly eons ago, I dabbled in ASCI art on Apple II e terminals when they were introduced in our school. I worked in the Deluxe Paint II program on the Commodore Amiga; I used MacDraw in Mac’s early days. That dot matrix and pixellated output always intrigued me. Through the years, I did a lot of computer graphics in many programs – Aldus Freehand, Alias Sketch; I also learned AutoCAD almost two decades ago and so many versions of it since. Some of those graphics are trapped on floppy disks I have no way to view anymore! More recently I learned Sketchup and of course the Adobe Suite. I naturally gravitated toward creating out-of-the-box designs in every program I’ve touched. Today, I increasingly do work in the typical Adobe venues, but a lot of it from the 1990’s to about 2008 was initially created in such an unlikely place as Microsoft Word. (Who knew it had 3D capacity? I’ve stretched the graphics ability in that program probably beyond what the programmers themselves foresaw.) Anyway, that’s occasionally still my jumping-off spot just out of habit (but increasingly rarely). From what I developed in Word, I used to further manipulate the works in a Corel-acquired program known as Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro. It had a lot of the same features as Photoshop and Illustrator, but was much cheaper and, I think, easier to use. Perhaps it was easier to me because it was the first graphics program I really learned well. I haven’t really used it much since around the time that Corel bought it out. Since I switched operating systems, I’m getting much better with Adobe, and have an in-house expert giving me the lowdown on it all: my hubby, a graphic designer. I’m extremely good at Photoshop and very good at InDesign and even getting a lot better at Illustrator. Generally, I just do computer graphics for fun or for print/web projects and don’t market the artistic ones as art for sale, but if a demand arises, I will consider answering it.

Q. How can I learn to draw?
A.
You can do it several ways, or a combination. Not everyone feels they have the expendable income to invest in a college course. That’s okay. There are plenty of artists giving seminars and lessons in your local galleries. But you don’t even have to go to a class if you don’t want to, although it’s helpful. You can get some instruction books or videos if that’s more your style; I thought “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” was great when I used it to teach high school students portraiture. But the biggest thing you can do is just do it. Just draw. Sit there, really look at something, and draw what you see. To draw accurately, draw what you see – not what you know. That’s important. This statement is geared toward the beginning artist, who, 90% of the time, wants to know how to draw things very realistically. Really, even to be a good abstractionist, you have to be able to depict things realistically first anyhow – you have to know the rules before you break them – that way you can have an innate sense of which rules to break and which to keep to create an intended impact. Total anarchy produces ugly, meaningless art. If you want to say something, and say it well, you have to learn your visual vocabulary and its syntax, and a lot of technique, and to develop a sense of proportion and, well…taste. This sophistication doesn’t come overnight. It takes study and follow-through, like anything else. But it is so rewarding! If you want some good steps to this journey, check out my Art Lessons in my Art Blog.

Q. Where do you sell?
A.
I have sold through a few galleries here in Denver and in the Midwest, and as I forge more relationships with galleries I’ll link to them. I’ll try to keep you up to date on where I’m selling via my posts in my blog here. I can also sell on my own; you can request information on purchases through my Contact page for now. I’ve sold at art festivals; I’ve sold in various venues and I am working on a couple of third-party e-commerce sites soon for easier commerce.

Q. I live in the Denver/Boulder area. Do you train students / apprentices?
A.
I sure do, and age isn’t a factor, and I can take on more than one at a time. I have a Bachelor of Science in Education of Art and can offer very thorough training in several areas. Contact me on the Contact page and let me know what you want to learn; I’ll let you know if there are any prerequisites (which I also offer; some things are foundational and one must walk before one runs), and we’ll discuss schedule and compensation depending on the arrangement you want and my ability to accommodate. I teach basic design elements and principles, drawing, painting, aesthetics, and throw in relevant art history enrichment and art criticism tips. I tailor each student’s lessons to their individual goals and interests and present things with a methodical progression and a friendly humor. As a rule, I do not spoon-feed step-by-step directions to have you create a copycat painting like the teacher’s as some businesses do – such a class teaches no transferable skills; therefore, to do another work you would have to rely on being spoon-fed again and again. Instead, I will teach you how to create independently and find your own voice that you can enjoy for a lifetime! Give it a try; my fees are reasonable. I look forward to teaching you!

 

 

 

 

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