Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interview With Artist Paula Ford

I recently interviewed an artist who I greatly admire, Paula Ford. Please take a moment to read about Paula and to view some of her beautiful paintings.

"Blue Boat" - Pastel

Can you share a little bit about your art background?

My first exposure to art was when I was a kid. My mother was an artist. She painted abstracts in oils. She would paint at the kitchen table during the day before my father got home from work. She would enter shows, and win too! She was really good! My brother also liked to draw and he was really good at it. It really didn’t interest me in the least, though I loved to watch while they created.

I remember taking Art History in college and found it to be boring. I was a business major with a very left brain.

It’s funny, when I was about 12, one day I got the urge to draw so I got out a piece of paper and a pencil and was sitting at the other end of the couch from my father, who was taking a nap. I drew his profile and it looked exactly like him!! I was shocked! I never picked up another pencil for 30 years.

"Wenatchee River" - Pastel

Which mediums do you work in and why?

I work mainly in soft pastels and am re-learning oils.

Years ago my husband and I lived in Abilene, TX. For a kid from the northeast (Upstate NY), Texas was quite different. It was really hot and flat and there weren’t many trees. I missed the northeast so bad that one day I decided if I couldn’t find anything beautiful to look at, I was going to learn to paint something beautiful.

Fortunately Kay Walton was teaching at the local Hobby Lobby. She is a famous bluebonnet/landscape artist and is represented by many galleries around the country. I attended her classes for almost 2 years. Then I found I went to many of the forums and ended up in the pastel forum. I didn’t even know what pastels were. That began my journey with pastels. Again, as luck would have it, Paul Friske, PSA, lived in Abilene (was this all meant to be?? I think so!!) and taught pastels. I studied under him until we moved away from Abilene about 5 years ago.

Pastels are much quicker to use than oils. You don’t have to wait for them to dry and if you make a mistake, brush it off and reapply pastel over the top. Clean up is a breeze too. Just wash your hands and you’re done!

Now that I’m more experienced, I’ve gone back to oils again and am loving the challenge and it’s so much fun to do something different.

"Dandelion Dance" - Pastel

How often do you paint?

I paint almost every day. Once in a while if I don’t paint, I’m still puttering in my studio.

How would you describe your painting style?

I would say, besides representational, soft, romantic, and happy.

"Aspen Valley" - Pastel

Can you tell me a little bit about your painting process?

I always start out by doing thumbnail sketches. That shows me if the composition is good and if the painting is going to work. I may take it one step beyond that and do a value sketch to show me where my darkest darks, and lightest lights will go. I believe in being prepared before painting. Can’t remember who said this, but in my head I can hear the words, “An unprepared painting is a failed painting.”

I then make a quick sketch onto my surface, making sure I accurately follow my chosen thumbnail sketch.
Most of the time I work on either Ampersand Pastelbord or Uart and almost always do a wet underpainting by using pastels for the first layer and then washing it in with rubbing alcohol and a ½” flat synthetic brush to set in the colors and unclog the tooth. It’s just a matter of putting in my darks first, then mid tones, and then a few highlights to finish the painting. I work all over the painting all at once, going back and forth, back and forth throughout the painting until it’s done. Layer, layer, layer.

"House of the Rising Sun" - Pastel

Did you set any art goals for this year?

Not really. I just always try to paint and study as much as possible, exercise every day, eat right, and stay healthy.

How has blogging and the internet changed your life as an artist?

Oh my gosh, I am such a hermit and recluse and hardly ever go out. Most of my social interaction is online, except when I teach workshops, that is. I have a huge blog, a website, belong to tons of art groups online, am on FaceBook, use Twitter and several other social networking sites, and sell my paintings online. The internet has changed all of us! I wouldn’t be able to live without it!

Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?

Do something artistic every day. Try to paint and sketch every day too. Go out into nature and study everything you see. Study everything you can get your hands on about composition and color. Learn to draw accurately. Study other artists’ work every day. Start a blog with your real name (that’s a pet peeve with me! How do you think you will ever be known if you don’t use your real name?) and blog all the time about your paintings, your thoughts about the painting process, and about other artists. Join a local art group, join FaceBook, join Think art, breathe art, live art, and share art, all the time.

Thank you for the interview Paula!

Click here to visit Paula's website.

Click here to visit Paula's blog.


Nancy Medina said...

Excellent interview of an artist I greatly admire - thank you for sharing! what a treat.

Diane Artz Furlong said...

What a great interview! I hadn't realized you came so late to your art, Paula. And you gave us such good advice.
Angela, you are very generous. Thank you for interviewing Paula.

DeanO said...

Your art is beautifl