Monday, August 18, 2008

The most unusual thing that has ever happened to you while you were outside painting? and nine other questions for Michael Orwick

Portland Plein Air & Studio Painters News and events for regional artists who paint outdoors, plein air, in the tradition of the French impressionists.
with special thanks to Celeste Bergin (The hardest working painter in Portland) for doing the interview
Cool White Aspen by Michael Orwick
+1 ::: When did you first realize you are an artist?
Growing up with dyslexia, the eight hours spent in school were often not my favorite time of the day. I remember in 2nd and 3rd grade being given worksheets, looking over the indecipherable letters marching across the page, I would simply flip the paper over and spend the time drawing. This worked in a few ways, The teachers from time to time would hang up my drawing noticing that I had some early skills and it was a fast pass into the special reading classes that I needed at that time.
+2 ::: What is it that inspires you to paint a particular subject? Beauty and light.
+3 ::: What famous artists have influenced you, and how? I started in illustration and love many of the older more realistic painterly artists that I saw in older books and often in calendars, specifically Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth . It was Wyeth that led me to learn more about impressionism especially early California impressionism. This has become one of my biggest loves. It is now artists like Guy Rose William Wendt, Grandville Redmond and Edgar Payne who I like. I love the freshness of the paintings, I like that they are not after a photographic representation, but rather a painting that conveys what is was like to be there at the that time. They all have a comfort and control that one can feel in how the paint was applied. I want that. I want the paint to become like an extension of me, of my thoughts and feelings toward a place. It is a funny thing that to get to the point where things feel natural and thoughtless we must first study so much that it can all become second nature.+4 ::: What do you do for fun (besides painting)?I travel and spend time with the family. We all love to explore and go camping, which affords me many opportunities for photography...great for the long rainy season in the studio.

+5 ::: What inspires you to create art and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? Thinking of things to paint never gets tough, I have never had a dry spell or a time I couldn’t figure out what to paint, like I said beauty inspires me and I feel like beautiful places, things and people constantly surround me. My problem would be more of having too many projects going on at once and trying to stay focused.
+6 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
If you ask my wife the answer is poorly. I just want to paint, and be out looking at things to paint. My hat is off to gallery people and what they have to do, I gladly pay them the 50% because it allows me time to do what I love. I don’t even do short shows and festivals any longer because it infringes too much on my and my family’s time. I have been lucky that my hard work has paid off in that every year is better then the last. I have a good relationship with the the Galleries I am in and we try to take care of and help each other. I like the feeling of mutuality and that I get to decide who I chose to work with.One thing that has really helped is treating art like a real job. I work 8-5 every week day (weekends are family time).
+7 :::Can you describe your best and worst painting efforts to date? When I was starting out in plein air, which was only a few years ago, in a Kenn Backhaus workshop I felt like and idiot like I didn’t even know how to hold my brush, it was like learning to see and paint again. This year I took a Scott Christensen workshop and felt the same way but this time I was prepared and relished the experience knowing that in this way I was really learning. 
After the workshop I painted 2 new aspen paintings that I love (I always love the new ones). I am finally getting comfortable with the brush I’m holding it back at the end and using much more paint in a more deliberate fashion.
+8 ::: What is it about plein air that keeps you painting outdoors, and what are you working on at the moment?
Outdoors is the only true teacher, and what a bitch of a teacher she can be at times. She is constantly teasing you with changing light and weather conditions, but that is the fun of it.At times when things are going well I find my self thinking I get paid to go out to look for then look at beautiful places with the wind and the sun and the birds? I don’t think we should tell people this last part otherwise they won’t want to pay us for it. What I do know is that Plein air painting is a real challenge I compare to fishing, studio being like fishing using a bobber.. plein air like using a fly rod where you are constantly changing thinking and adapting. It is truly one of the most exhausting things I have done.I have three shows being set up at the beginning of September so I am doing the mad dash to get enough work to make everyone happy.
+9 ::: What is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to you while you were outside painting?
Painting in the Oregon Gorge last year a bus of foreign tourists pulled up to look at the waterfall and one asked to take a photo with me and the painting. I said OK, and then something strange happened. I think they began to think I was famous and they formed a line and one by one got their photos taken with me and my painting and the falls in the background. So now I’m huge in Japan…or I would be but I don’t think one of them actually asked for my name, they were all so polite thanking me bowing then loading back onto the bus. To see the painting click here.
+10 ::: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever gotten pertaining to your art career?
“You have to know when to kill your babies.” I’m not sure if it is truly one of the best pieces of advice I ever got but it sure has stuck with me. It came form the sweetest lady that I ever had the chance to study with Elsa Warnick. She was as much like a mother as an illustration teacher, and what she meant by it was that it is often easier to start over then to try to continue to fix a bad painting.
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