I spent a life time dreaming of living in Hawaii. It took years to build my skills as both artist and teacher. Years of gaining the confidence and experience to bring with me so that I could thrive on the island. I held onto this dream all through the years of raising my four children. When they all moved out and starting building lives of their own I began to work even harder at making my dream/goals come true. I now have seven grand kids, all living in California. I miss seeing them grow. I miss being able to hug them or go to their special functions and I miss my kids. I knew I’d be missing out on all this when I moved to Maui six years ago. I had a quite break down the year before moving here. Maybe it was more of a revelation. I knew If I didn’t follow my dream I would be doing more harm then good in teaching my kids and grandkids to follow theirs. I knew I needed to lead by example. I needed to make a path they could follow. Making sacrifices is part of the journey.
What’s your background?
I grew up in the art business. My parents owned a gallery – frame shop – art supply store – painting workshop business on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe called Lakeside Gallery. My mom taught me how to paint and my dad taught me how to frame. I learned a lot about art supplies. Including brushes, paints, papers, canvases, sculpting tools, pens pencils and a great deal more. I took advantage of most of the visiting teachers who conducted workshops each year. That gave me an opportunity to learn a variety of styles and mediums, and I learned how to teach painting classes.
I also learned a lot about running the business. All aspects of it including paying bills, scheduling workshops, selling art and art supplies, writing news announcements, news letters and running the website. All of that was great practice for what I’m doing now, running my own art business.
Does your artwork come from that background?
Yes, in a lot of ways it does. Having the opportunity to learn a lot of styles, techniques and mediums gave me the courage to try new things, experiment with new products and take risks. Developing my own unique voice as an artist was something I’ve worked hard at and still working at.
The artists and teachers at Lakeside Gallery inspired me to keep learning. They were my example of where I wanted to go with my art. Some of the teachers owned galleries. Some wrote books and did videos on how to paint. Some traveled all over the world teaching classes. Some sold their works for 10s of thousands of dollars. They were all very talented, loving, crazy people. I wanted to be like them when I grew up.
What are you trying to say with your work?
I think my art reflects life around me. Each painting is a memory of where I’ve been and what I saw. I’m mostly a landscape artist but lately I’ve been painting a lot of sea life. I want to show the world what a beautiful planet we live on. Everywhere I go I see beauty. That’s probably because I live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Maui Hawaii.
I want to share how I see and what I see in my world everyday. I want to focus on how it can be, the bright, clean, beautiful and peaceful world I live in. I have very few paintings with people in them because I want the viewer to imagine themselves in the scene.
So I guess what I’m really saying with my art is we live in a beautiful world. Lets keep it that way.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I work with both oils and acrylic paints. I started out painting with oils over 40 years ago because that was the medium my mom taught. She also taught watercolor but I didn’t much care for that medium. I love how creamy the oil paint feels when I mix it and how wonderful it blends when I paint with it.
15 years ago I started to use acrylics because one of my students was allergic to oils. It took awhile to get use to the quick drying time but once I mastered that it became the medium I now use most. Acrylics are so versatile, I can paint them on watercolor paper, canvas, wood panels and even rocks.
Music Choice by Darice
Acrylic has become the medium I’m most known for since moving to Maui. In 2013 I was approached by Walter Foster Publishing asking me if I’d be interested in co-writing a book on painting in acrylics. I jumped at the chance and in 2014 “The Art Of Painting In Acrylic” was published.
This past year I fell in love with the technique acrylic pouring. It has taken me to a whole new realm of painting. I love mixing the abstract backgrounds I get with the pours with my realistic sea life animals or tropical flowers. It’s a match made in acrylic heaven.
I have a learning disability called dyslexia. Back when I was a kid schools and teachers didn’t know anything about learning disabilities. I was treated like a dummy and was ignored by most my teachers. I was labled a problem child. Not one of them took the time to help me. In fact, a few did a great job in embarrassing me in front of the class. The only things I was good at in school was anything to do with arts or creativity. My parents didn’t help, they didn’t know how. I taught myself to read at age 15. I dropped out of high school at age 16. I fought the stigma or label of being called stupid that was forced on me. I hid the fact that I couldn’t spell very well most of my adult life. It’s funny, when I read I can pick out misspelled words. But when I go to write words they often come out wrong. Thank goodness for auto correct on my computer and my little dictionary sitting on my desk. I’m also very grateful to my life partner, Charlie for his expert proof reading skills.
Do you work in a studio?
Yes, I’m a studio artist. My studio is located in Lahaina Maui. It’s a little smaller then the one I had in California which means I store quite a bit of stuff in the bathroom next to it. Such as frames, fabrics, and boxes of paper.
I’ve had to down size how many students I can teach as well. I can only accommodate 4 students now, and that’s a tight fit.
My desk stretches across the back wall. On it sits my computer and a lot of piles of binders, note books, papers and file boxes. On the wall behind my computer is a lot of photos of my kids and grandkids and my calendar. The left side of the room as you come in through the door I have a book shelf, a storage shelf with storage baskets, folding chairs and TV trays and easels. Behind the door is where I hang all my smocks and aprons. On the right side I have 3 shelving units stacked full of art supplies. The one and only little window is also on that side too. The walls are covered with paintings. There is so much stuff in my studio it boggles the mind.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
Air conditioning! It gets pretty hot here in Lahaina, especially in the summer. My studio is in a metal warehouse type building. The Afternoon sun is intense. I don’t think I could handle being in my studio with out it.
Oh, and my calendar. I put everything on my calendar. I schedule classes, art shows, volunteer activities. I have scheduled appointments, days I set aside for writing my newsletters and blogs and even lunches or dinners with my friends. If it doesn’t get put on my calendar it gets forgotten.
Who are your biggest influences?
My mom has been the biggest influence in my life. Seeing her achieve things she never thought she could had a big impact on me. Opening her gallery just one year after she started painting was amazing. Teaching art classes to strangers, adults and children with such love and patience, also taught me what kind of teacher I wanted to be.
Also many of the teachers I spoke of above inspired me to push myself beyond what I thought I could do.
Music Choice by Darice
What is your favorite piece of work by yourself?
My all time favorites are “Misty Hills” and “The Blue Door”. These are older paintings, both done in oil and both have sold.
Right now I’m working on a series of sea life and tropical flowers in my new favorite technique, acrylic pouring. Every piece is coming out better then I hoped. I’m madly in love with this new series.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
That really depends on what I’m working on and what medium I use. Miniature paintings can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. Large works can take days and sometimes weeks to complete.
In some cases the drying time can really effect how long it will take to finish a piece. So for me, there really is no “average” time.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
This is a question I get a lot from my students too. It’s not an easy one to answer. For me, I decide a piece is finished when I put the last stroke of detail on it and I sign my name.
I don’t have a hard time walking away from a painting once I decide it’s done. At that point I turn it over to my significant other who photographs them and gets them ready to go on my website. When he is done I varnish them and get them ready to show either in my studio or in one of the galleries I’m in.
What project are you working on now?
I’ve been enjoying painting on round canvases or wood panels lately. I have a small round 15 inch diameter wood table top I’m getting ready to do a painting on. I bought the unfinished table top from Lowe’s. Haven’t decided if I’m going to put lags on it and use it as a table or if I’m going to wire the back to hang on the wall. I’ll know which way it will go when I’m done.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Practice, practice, practice. The more you paint, the better you get. I don’t remember who told me that. Probably my mother. It kind of sounds like a motherly advice.
Another art teacher told me to paint things that sell. That advice was pretty vague to me at the time. I had no idea what would sell. Now after 30 some years from when he gave me that advice I have a better idea.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
The first piece of art I sold was a small watercolor painting of a desert scene. It was on display at Lakeside Gallery. In fact, if I remember right, it was the only piece I had there at the time. The woman who bought it fell in love with it because it reminded her of where she grew up. It’s funny to me that the first painting I sold was in a medium I rarely use.
Do you find it hard to navigate the art world?
In the beginning of my art journey I found it very hard to navigate. There was so much to learn and do. So many directions I could go in and I wanted to learn and do it all.
In my twenties through my early forties I also did community theater, dancing and singing and designed and created costumes. My artistic interests stretched over many mediums. Each one taking time and energy to do. By my mid forties I decided to focus on just my painting interests.
I have met artists who tried to stop me and artists who wanted to help me. One advantage I had, still have, is the amount of knowledge I learned from growing up in the art gallery business and being able to slowly grow my online presence.
Being online has made it a little easier to get people to see my work. Yet, at the same time, it’s given me more challenges. I spend a lot of time marketing and promoting both my art and my art classes. Balancing my time between being on the computer and painting or teaching is frustrating.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
As I mentioned above I spend a good deal of time on the computer doing social marketing on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I have two blogs, one on each of my websites and I send out a monthly newsletter to my mailing list.
I also research online and local art competitions that might suit my work. I’ve won money, certificates, ribbons and placements in books. The newest book I won placement in is coming out May 2018 (next month), it’s called “AcrylicWorks 5”. It can be found on Artistsnetwork.com
I answer all my emails specially ones from companies like Walter Foster Publishing who found me through my website and asked if I would co-write “The Art Of Painting In Acrylic”. Or Southwest Art Magazine, who congratulated me on my winning piece in “AcrylicWorks 5” competion and asked if I’d like to have a half page feature in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art Magazine. Taking advantage of these two opportunities is helping to grow my art career.
I have done 4 book signings, three locally which includes one at Barnes & Noble book store and one in Chico California. My work is in four Maui art galleries. I also do live painting demonstrations every Friday morning in front of one of them. I’ve met a lot of great people doing this and have gained art collectors, students and friends.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I price my paintings by size. This keeps it simple for me to remember when a customer asks how much a painting is. All I have to do is look at the size painting they are interested in to give them the price.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Yes I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mostly. I also use LinkedInn, Pinterest and GooglePlus But not often. My favorite networking site at the moment is Instagram. I have two accounts on there. One for my Art and one for my art classes.
Is there anything that really annoys you about the art world?
Yes, one thing that bothers me is the big Art Auction companies like Sutheby’s and Christie’s who push really bad art with really high price tags to the very rich. Or Art Museums that display elephant dung, PVC pipes and urinals as art ( yes I’ve seen that with my own eyes ). To me that’s a slap in the face.
I also don’t care for the pressure “used car salesman” approach to selling art in some of galleries around here and on the mainland. So many of these sales people make up stories or lie about the art and artist just to make a sale. Their little back rooms with controlled lighting is a joke. Most people’s homes don’t have little rooms with controlled lighting to show off their art works.
What advice would you give new artists?
If you are a painter, paint every day. If you are a musician, singer or an actor, practice everyday. The act of doing will make you better at what ever you want to do.
Have you got hobbies?
I enjoy taking walks on the beach, hikes in rainforests or tropical gardens and photographing the beautiful things I see. I also love reading. I have less hobbies now then when I was younger. Back then I enjoyed acting in community theater, dancing, creating and sewing costumes as well as the other things I mentioned above.
Where are you based?
I live in Hawaii on the beautiful island of Maui. My studio is located in Lahaina, on the west side of the island.
I love surrounding myself with creative people. Most of my friends are artists. I enjoy celebrating their achievements and they enjoy celebrating mine. Every Friday night is “Art Night” in Lahaina. Charlie and I make this our date night. We go out for dinner then make our rounds to the galleries we like best, starting with Village Gallery. In Lahaina there are a lot of galleries but we visit just 3 or 4. At the end of the evening we meet up with a few artists friends to have ice cream at our favorite ice cream shop. This has become our Friday night ritual for the last 6 years and we’ve become pretty famous for it. That is, famous in our circle of friends and the businesses we go to.