We’re already halfway through the first month of 2020, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still halfway between the busy haze of the holidays and the nagging feeling that you should be a lot more motivated to do ALL the things in the new year.
Since my last post (in 2019), I completed two gift paintings for the holidays. One was opened by the recipient on Christmas Day, the other was given just yesterday! Both were an immediate hit with their recipient, which let me know that taking the extra time to make sure each painting was done to the best of my ability was well worth it.
Gift painting number 1: Pet Portrait
Gift painting number 2: The Wilkersons
But now, I have that feeling I sometimes get when I finish a big project (in this case two simultaneous big projects!)
It’s a sort of lost feeling.
I’m not quite sure where or how to start back up.
When this happens to me, I always remember that this happens, even though it wasn’t on my radar enough to plan for it before. (Wouldn’t that be nice if my brain had given me a tiny heads up? Like: Hey, you, don’t forget that you always feel aimless after finishing these big projects, so plan for it now!)
10 Questions for the Artist: Get to Know Me!
Since we are at the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, I thought it would be fun to start off with an old fashioned “get to know me” as an artist. I have done many posts on mixed media art techniques, materials and supplies but not as many about the person behind the curtain, so to speak. Who is this person who paints all these paintings and eats, drinks and breathes art? Let’s find out with 10 questions for the artist!
Question #1: What inspires my art?
In the past I always found this to be an incredibly hard question to answer, because I was inspired by everything – but I didn’t always know how to turn those inspirations into good art. Now that I do, I would say I am inspired by a number of things:
- an interesting photograph of a person, usually one that has fascinating eyes or some sort of unique feature or quality (freckles or a mysterious smile, for example)
- A color combination. Sometimes I will see an ad, photo, or even something in a store or video that has a certain color combination that I can’t get out of my head. When that happens, you can bet those colors will be showing up in my next painting!
- A concept or song/song lyric. I like to play around with song lyrics or a song concept represented in paintings (like in the painting below, inspired by a photograph of Rob Dougan and his song “Clubbed to Death.”)
Question #2: Do I listen to music while I paint?
The short answer: YES!
I don’t know if I could paint without music. It’s just a part of my art routine: sit down at my art desk, open laptop, turn on music. Boom – time to paint.
To be honest, I’m a music junkie and I love to find new songs and rediscover old songs I used to love. I have several Pandora and YouTube playlists for when I paint. They are a mix of electronic/trap, hip hop, pop, rock, and alternative.
I’m kind of all over the place. But what I play really works with my mood.
I made a YouTube playlist of the songs I listen to most frequently while I paint. Head on over here to listen:
Emmit Fenn - Painting GreysEmmit Fenn - Painting Greys
⬙ FAVOURITES ON SPOTIFY ⬙
One of the most unique tracks I have heard in a while.
Listen on Spotify... http://spoti.fi/1KtfYNK
Artwork by Alex Cherry
⬗ Sheepy Store ⬗
⬖ Submit Music & Art ⬖
⬙ Sheepy Instagram ⬙
⬘ Spotify: Channel Uploads ⬘
⬗ Spotify: Seeking Blue ⬗
Question #3: What’s the hardest part of painting?
For portraits, it’s definitely making sure the features are correct. I tend to want my portraits to look as close to real as I can get them. I am a stickler for getting the features in my painting to match as closely to the person I am painting as possible.
There’s nothing worse (in my humble opinion) than looking at a portrait of someone and thinking “well, it sort of looks like them.”
I want the viewer to immediately know who they are looking at because the portrait looks just like them! I sometimes spend a lot of time getting certain features just right. This is the hardest part when I paint!
Question #4: What art supply can you not live without?
This is a tougher question than I thought it would be. I had to revert to the old “if I were on a desert island and could only us ONE supply . . . ” trick. And (drum roll, please) the answer would be paint. More specifically my Duo oil paints, but overall paint is my answer because I can start a painting with just paint and my fingers if I have to and I can use other surfaces beside paper. To me, paint feels like endless possibilities where something like a pencil would feel restrictive after a while.
Question #5: Who is your favorite artist (from history)?
I will have to go with Marc Chagall. Chagall lived to be 97 and painted almost his entire life. He came from a small Russian town and was known for his dreamy paintings inspired by rural living, farming, village life, and his Hasidic Jewish faith. Yet despite the seemingly simple inspiration for his art, he became a trendsetter and a huge influence in the artistic movements Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism and Surrealism, but like the true greats was in a category all by himself. He was also a well-known and well-liked painter his whole life, and saw the rewards from his art, which many of the greats never got to do – yet by all accounts remained a humble and likable person.
I did a post of 5 artists from history to inspire you, and Chagall was included. Check it out here: 5 Artists From History Who Will Inspire Your Art
Question #6: Who is your favorite contemporary artist?
This would have to be Ashley Longshore. I’ve followed her on Instagram for years and she is hilarious, prolific, extremely positive, and definitely NSFW! I included her in my 10 Inspiring Instagram Artists to Follow post, and I love her ballsy attitude, fun social media presence and mind blowing rise to art stardom. She has said numerous times that she started with nothing and just kept going, kept painting and kept believing in her art despite being told “no” from the art establishment for years – the same establishment that now considers her to be art royalty.
Question #7: How long does it take you to complete a painting?
To be completely honest, the answer here is “It depends.”
I have been able to finish paintings (start to finish) in one day. Another of my paintings took me 4 years to finally complete. Those are the extremes, though. I would say on average, it takes me 2-4 weeks to finish a painting, depending on what kind – portraits take the longest – what else I’m working on and what kind of life stuff is happening. Also – I sometimes start a painting and get stuck for whatever reason, so I put it away for weeks or even months! To make a long story short, there’s no easy answer to this artist question, folks!
Question #8: Do you have any bad painting habits?
Of course not.
Ok, y’all saw right through that one, I guess. I meant of course I do!
I actually have a few bad habits, including:
- Leaving brushes sitting in water for too long. I know, I know – boo! It’s just because at heart, I’m lazy and washing brushes doesn’t excite me.
- According to my painting instructor, I am too brushy. (I still don’t fully know what that means because I am still working to fix it, but from what I understand he means I get too into my brushstrokes and paint the same brushstrokes in the same direction and style too much and it makes my painting boring and tired). I think I tend to do this when I’m nervous or anxious about my painting and I’m not sure what I’m doing.
- Getting too excited about the beginning of a painting, but then feeling like I want to burn it in the backyard* halfway through. I usually get over this feeling eventually and finish the thing. *None of my paintings have ever been harmed in a backyard burn pile.
Question #9: What’s your favorite painting you’ve ever painted?
Wow, that’s like trying to pick a favorite kid. I had it narrowed down to several and still didn’t want to choose, but finally I decided it’s my “Queen” painting:
There are a few reasons this painting is my favorite:
- I would hang her in my own house – actually, right now she is!
- I took the time to make sure every detail was as perfect as I could make it. I spent at least a week alone working on the crown and earrings just to get them just right (secret: I turned the painting upside down to paint the jewelry, so I could trick my brain into painting the colors, shadows and highlights as they were and not as my brain wanted too see them!) I spent a couple days just painting the shirt!
- I painted this painting completely twice. I think that’s why it’s my favorite, because I was determined to do it justice, even if it meant starting over from scratch. (Yes, I did that!) The first version had some major “structural flaws” that would take a huge effort to correct. So at one point, I just decided to abandon that version and start from the beginning with a blank canvas. It was scary but worth it because she came out better than I could’ve ever hoped.
Question #10: What is your best advice for a new artist?
Take the time to learn everything you can. There’s so many ways available to us now: books, people, classes, the Internet. Learn what you don’t know and then practice. I’ve been practicing for 10+ years, and it’s just in the last two years that I feel like my skill level as an artist has finally begun to match up with the vision I had in my head of how I want my art to look. It’s not easy and it’s not overnight.
My painting mentor has been an artist for over 50 years, and he says he still learns something new every day, and learns new skills and better ways to do things. I hope I can say the same thing when I am 70+!
I hope you enjoyed this Q+A about art and myself as an artist. If you have any other questions for the artist you’d like me to answer, just drop it in the comment and I will answer in a future post.
Latest posts by Jaime Leigh (see all)
- Get to Know Me: 10 Questions for the Artist Behind the Blog - January 15, 2020
- Giving Mixed Media Paintings as Gifts: Good Idea or Bad Idea? - December 10, 2019
- Getting Ready for My First Big Art Show - November 26, 2019