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Interview with the Artist

(Answers to questions posed by an art student.)

Could you explain what you do?
I make paintings, try to get others to look at them and hopefully buy them.

How did you choose this line of work?
I have always been making art from an early age but for nearly forty years did computer programming to earn a living. I bought a house and put my wife and three children through college. Now that diversion is over so I can finally paint full time.

What skills are most important for a person in your line of work?
I think it is an inborn talent - just luck. Some people can learn languages; some can throw a ball. Most people have something. My talent is drawing and painting.

When did you realize that this was what you wanted to do?
I began school at the end of the World War and was influenced by getting enough to eat and by bombs having destroyed houses on the street where I lived (near Liverpool). Art seemed frivolous at the time so I chose science. I retired three years ago and have some catching up to do.

What do you do for inspiration: look at nature, meditation, look at other art, etc.?
I'm inspired by nature. Other artist's work is important for developing my perception.

Do you have a favorite artist or designer? Why does his or her work speak to you?
Here are a few: Picasso, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Americans: Marsden Hartley and Fairfeld Porter. Local artists would include Eric Aho and Jon Imber. The second question is just too big a subject to answer.

Could you explain your creative process in some detail?
When I look at a scene I find certain things in that scene exciting shapes, rhythm and colors. I exaggerate these in my painting. As I get going, I get more and more input from the developing painting. Eventually I stop looking at the scene and get all my inspiration from the painting itself.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
At this stage in my development as an artist (starting out), the challenge is deciding what to do: what style, what subject etc. "Produce 15 paintings in the same style" is easy to understand but hard to do. I'm sure I want to do that as it ignore versatility.

If you experience a creative block, what do you do to get back on track?
I don't have creative blocks. There is always far more to do than the time allows.

How do you balance the demands of your life: family, work, rest, etc.?
I don't have much of a problem with interruptions. I keep a detailed record of paint and materials as a work on each painting. I can restart exactly where I left off.

Do you make your primary living from your art, or do you have more than one job?
The income from sales now covers the expense of materials but I expect this to improve.

What practical advice would you give to a group of first-year art majors?
Don't think of your courses as providing all you need for your career.
The important thing about the learning process is essentially to allow you to change yourself.

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