Welcome to Week 31 of Paint Party Friday (Year 2) and to the next edition of our Featured Artist Series! (Would you like to be a PPF Featured Artist
? Please click here
for details!) This week's featured artist has just successfully completed an astounding project using a very creative (and slightly unusual) medium. Please welcome Alicia Araya!
Please tell us a bit about your personal history with painting. (When did you start painting? How has your painting evolved since you first started?) My father was an oil painter, though for some reason he has not painted in years. He's living on another continent, and painting was a passion, a hobby, something he did not pursue - he was a Navy man, then a lawyer, as well as an artist, as well a self taught electrician, carpenter, etc. Thus I learned how to oil paint at the age most children are still using crayons. Sure, I used crayons as well, and to this day, but you know what I mean... in any event, I followed my dad's spiritual legacy, I suppose, because I was never willing to, in any serious way, commit to one thing. I spent most of my 20s travelling around, partying, enrolling in University, then quitting and getting a job, then finding it dreadful to work and joining University again, then traveling, then being broke ... ad nauseum. Even though art has always been with me, I never seriously contemplated being an artist until after finally committing to receive a college diploma.
Vowing to AT LEAST achieve receiving a BA before my 30th birthday, I realized my last 9 months of university that, were I to declare a Bachelor's in Studio Art, I would succeed in graduating (oh my!!!) - I had, in the past 8 years or so, taken enough arts electives to qualify me for that diploma quickly. For anyone who finds this level of cluelessness incomprehensible and possibly even unforgivable, I would like to remind folks that it was quite en vogue in the 90s to instruct our youngsters "go for broke! take student loans! just enroll as an UNDECIDED MAJOR!!! This is THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!!!" and well - some of us never quite transcended that early well-meaning suggestion.
That diploma effort seemed to, at least in my mind, justify focusing time & attention on creating art. Part of my problem has always been that I can never, on a given day, decide what to focus on. The great thing, then, about seriously pursuing the BA was the way it gave me permission to PAINT, or sculpt, or draw, all the time! And I definitely realized that, all other things working out, I could definitely pursue this vector of activity for the rest of my life, if anyone would pay for it, certainly, but even barring that, if I could just be allowed to paint and live somewhere and not starve.
So now I find myself at mid 30s able to say "I am an artist and at times a graphic designer", not necessarily because I make a brilliant living at it at this time, but because it is the one thing that has consistently rewarded me, and which I can commit to fully.
As far as painting evolution, etc: I feel like I am heading more & more towards realism, in some form or other. I started out in an inchoate, sort of untrained way. I then got tired of what I was capable of producing (or NOT capable, as the case may be) which was when I started taking art classes. A drawing class in 2008 radically transformed my relationship to art and rendering, and I am forever grateful for all learned there. As well, it gave me the habit of charcoal sketching everything I could possibly see, which has helped me immensely in painting.
What are your favorite techniques, media, and tools to use in creating your paintings? What I have always adored for reasons I can't entirely understand or articulate are the look and plain old capacity to render things in a realistic way. Though I work in many mediums, etc, I want to briefly describe oil painting. I begun with straight up alla prima painting - wet on wet, I believe they call it - and then came to LOVE glazing techniques, thanks to that last oil painting class I took at college, where I learned both the technique & the mediums/chemicals used. Now I am developing hybrid styles mixing glazing with wet on wet, as well as, in an ad hoc sort of way, developing ways to achieve different sfumato effects & specific hues & whatnot through sheer persistence as opposed to actually doing the reasonable way and reading up about various techniques, etc. Experimenting - that's it, in a word.
What is your favorite thing to paint? Why? I do enjoy still lifes, now! Especially, as stated above, things that allow me to capture the mood and feel of a different, earlier era. I also love landscapes of all sorts - mountains, streams, waterfalls, etc. This is why the Turner project resonated so well with me. I am not terribly keen on portraiture...
What is your proudest painting moment and/or greatest painting achievement so far?
2012 has been an excellent artistic year for me! I begun by selling my first commission for $500 and shortly thereafter managed to fund my Kickstarter campaign, 90 Paintings in 90 Days
, aka the Epic Painting Project
, which has allowed me to complete, give or take a little tweaking, 90 oil paintings. These are reinterpretations of the oeuvre of the incredible landscape Romantic era British artist, JMW Turner. These are done on prepped wood panels - not traditional wooden panels, but pieces of driftwood rescued from local waterways. The shapes of the canvases very directly correlate to the subject matter and the composition itself - an effort with which my husband (photographer and artist in his own right) assists me with. He can view each piece of wood chosen, we consult the JMW Turner book of images we have, etc. One painting a day. Intense.
This Epic Painting Project has been a highlight, both in a creative and business sense. Being able to Kickstart (as it were) a project of this length and effort is an achievement I, even 6 months ago, could not have fathomed bringing to fruition. It involved more promoting, advertising and selling than I've ever really done in my life, and gave me a look into what arts fundraising is like. Some confidence in terms of future projects will come from that, no doubt. Artistically, of course, the effort is legion. I address many of these matters in my blog turner.aliciaraya.com
but, in a nutshell, doing this has allowed me to stick to an artistic discipline, exploit & explore the medium, learn a style from a master, and provide me with a cohesive portfolio group of works - something I've never really had in the past. Additionally, I have sold another commission for a painting project (a large portrayal of the ocean), and have sold a good quantity of smaller works through the site FiVERR. I blog & have blogged about all these things throughout the year.
Since then I have managed to receive another large painting commission, and in addition, I have successfully produced (and sold some) close to 100 wood, poetry, and art pieces with Jim, my husband. We call them Homily Sticks and Ponder Panels, and more can be read about these here http://art.aliciaraya.com/2012/08/ppf-and-august-challenge-new-wood-art.html
. We are focusing a lot of time producing these in hopes that folks might find then neat as holiday gifts.
What's next in your painting future?
Let's see... as stated it is a particular difficulty for me, projecting myself to some sort of future, but if I were to extravagantly desire a painting future, it would be one where I could live off painting, doing either commissions and/or successful sales - my overhead is immensely low, so it wouldn't take much in the scheme of things - but consistent income through art is the thing. The other thing I'd dearly love is to go back to school to get an MFA. I would love this like nothing else! I love being steeped in training and study! Also if I have a chance to go back to school I will know better how to take advantage of the benefits of belonging to an institution.
Thank you so much Alicia for the wonderfully informative and inspirational interview!
To learn even more about Alicia:
I can be found habitually at art.aliciaraya.com
, as well as marshallcommunityarts.com
- the latter is a blog I keep regarding mine and hubby's artistic activities in WNC where we live. The site for my Turner project is turner.aliciaraya.com
, where one can also see the entire portfolio of events, of the project. I have an online shop at Zibbet, http://www.zibbet.com/MarshallCommunityArts
where I sell not just my art and our joint wood pieces, but a lot of Jim's photography. As well, I am selling some 'virgin' driftwood pieces so that fellow artists interested in exploring the medium could acquire some of these 'jewels'.
I am on facebook here where I also like to post images of work https://www.facebook.com/alicia.c.araya
and the facebook page for the work Jim & I do is https://www.facebook.com/marshall.community.arts
- I welcome any new FB friends or 'likes'!!!
**Would you like to be a PPF Featured Artist? (Of course you do!)
Click here for more details!**
Another fun and busy party last week with such wonderful paintings! Now, here is our check-in for this week's party:
As always, please make sure to use your post URL address NOT your blog home page URL address as there are many late visitors who get confused as to which post is for PPF when they arrive (after Friday) at your website. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Linky, an explanation of how this tool works can be found on Week 1 and Week 2 Check-Ins.