Getting to Know Artist Val Arie

Val Arie

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You asked about music. Music is a funny thing. I feel it so closely connected to art as it seems to have color and form. I have very eclectic tastes in music running through all genres. Depending on my state of mind my choices can vary widely. I love almost all music but not so much the electronically created kind. That might seem a little odd coming from someone that creates art digitally but I prefer live music or music that was recorded live. I don’t typically listen to music when working on my art, although music can inspire me, I find it a distraction when working. I usually put some music on when I am working around the house or when I get up in the morning. So I will include todays favorite wakeup tune from Joe Cocker.

What’s your background?

My working background is mostly administrative, engineering, and food, but as an artist, the simplest answer would be I am self taught. Although I don’t like to say that because it is far from true.

Art and music were very much a part of family life, both as viewers and participants, and I was fortunate to have an interest. Very fortunate because almost the only forms of entertainment that could be relied upon were art and music related. I learned at a young age a horse or even a goldfish would not likely appear, but art and music supplies would. Looking back I can see some dysfunction; it was perfectly fine to strap any old skis to your feet and hurl yourself off a mountain without a lesson, but not so with art or music. Supplies and lessons were provided, experimentation was encouraged, and being dragged around to art and musical venues was mandatory. As children we were expected to be artist, musician, or both. It was not a career choice and not encouraged to be, it was just part of who you were expected to be. You made art and played music and studied both. My family was definitely the catalyst that turned my interest into a life long journey.

Abstract Moonrise in Pink

Does your artwork come from that background?

Technically yes, and on some level all I have ever learned is incorporated into my art in some way, but I think the majority of what I do now comes from my childhood memories. What I think of as abstracted realities. Memories filled with color, line and space removed somewhat from reality. As a child I traveled all over the country with my family more or less collecting memories of all I saw.

The road trips started when I was about three years old and continued through my teen years. My father, always the photographer, was not as interested in getting from point a to b, as seeing what was in-between. Crisscrossing the country, much time was spent on meandering back roads just to get a look at some sort of thing, and always to get the very best view. Deserts, canyons, mountains and forests. Lakes so large there was no shore on the other side, tiny ponds and great oceans. The vastness of the night sky from a mountain top, a moon so big it couldn’t be real, and storms. Storms were much loved by my family, many times hunkering down in some out of the way place waiting for it to pass. There wasn’t much to do on these trips other than watch the world go by and see the colors change.

What are you trying to say with your work?

That is a good question because I don’t want my art to necessarily say anything. For most of my life I wanted to create art that did say something. Perhaps political or even dark or shocking, but somewhere along the way I began to enjoy a creative process that is none of those things. I no longer take it so seriously and enjoy it so much more. Now I want it to be felt, to be fun, and hopefully enjoyed and maybe match a couch or two. I find color therapeutic and like to incorporate that therapy into my art as it is created, my own personal therapy. Sometimes I even work on pieces as a result of the weather. If it is hot out you might find me working with blues and greens. If it is very cold, red is the way to go. I like to create art that makes me feel good, and to me a piece is a success when a viewer tells me it made them feel good too!

Beaches – Fence

Someone once commented on my art and said it is like watching a campfire. I loved that! I thought yes, that is what I am striving for, to convey an emotion or feeling of time or place, removed a little from reality but not obliterating it. My goal became to create art that can be viewed without all the words, for the viewer to be able to step in and enjoy, just like a campfire..

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What made you choose the medium you work with?

Working with traditional mediums my entire life I would never have guessed I would have turned to doing digital artwork. One day I was telling my son I was out of art supplies and needed to go to the store. That I needed paint and some canvas. He pointed to the computer and said “You know you can make art on that!” I thought he was kidding, I barely knew how to use the thing. But then he said “you’re an artist you can do it.” and opened a paint program. I guess I was up to the challenge and with such an unlimited amount of canvas and paint there was no need to stop.

Do you work in a studio?

I have a third floor space in my home that is perfect for working with traditional mediums but it is messy and somewhat neglected. I don’t use it for my digital art. I have my computer “studio” set up in the middle of my living space. It is a little messy too, but comfortable.

Cattails and Yellow Sky

What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?

That is easy, Electricity!

Who are your biggest influences?

Too many to name have influenced me, but the biggest influence is by far Jackson Pollack, although not exactly because of his art. When I was about 10 or 11 years old I overheard a conversation, or more precisely an argument, the grownups were having about an artist and his art. They did this all the time and I seldom noticed but this time was different, I heard them talking about “throwing paint” around. Later on I realized they didn’t want to tell me about him, thinking I would get ideas about throwing paint myself. When I asked what they were talking about I was told to go out and play, that it didn’t matter as the artist was dead. But the “no answer” only peeked my interest and eventually I did get the information I wanted out of them, that he really did, more or less, throw paint.

It was years before I saw his work in person. But what stuck with me was: that in art it is perfectly fine to do your own thing, learn all you can and then do what you want.

Stormy Sea

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

My most favorite piece is a small pencil drawing of a cactus in a pot. It is nothing special to look at but it is my favorite. It is the piece I was working on when I first learned to draw, when it clicked. It seems there is a line you cross, or mind shift, when you go from trying to draw to actually drawing what you see. It was my first realistic drawing that was realistic.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

That sort of depends. If all goes well or not. I have work that I have completed from the initial idea to finish in a day, but I have others that hang around for months. I tend to have a lot of works in progress because while working on one thing I get an idea for something else. I end up working on a lot of different pieces all at the same time.

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

I’m not sure my work is ever actually finished. Finished is a feeling and sometimes that changes. I will often call a piece finished only to look at it much later and then decide to change something, add something or even remove something. Sometimes removing the entire piece. I can joke with my customers that they may get a very limited edition when they by a print.

Color Play

Walking away from a piece is easy. Sometimes I do for a few minutes, other times much longer. It gives a fresh perspective and is helpful if a piece doesn’t feel exactly right.

What project are you working on now?

I’m working on me! Last year I was in a very bad accident and couldn’t do much of anything for a long time. Before the accident I had reached a point where I was surprised to find my digital paintings were starting to sell both nationally and internationally and there was a lot I needed to start doing. The accident stopped all progress. Now as I slowly get back into it I am finding myself somewhat lazy and not nearly as productive as I need to be. I should be creating more new art, working on my website, doing some marketing and advertising. So I am working on myself, looking for inspiration, motivation and direction.

Red Waves

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given recently is to not become too emotionally attached to your work. That was the most helpful advice for critiquing your own art. It is often necessary to look at your own work objectively, and that is harder to do if you are emotionally attached.

One of the things I have a difficult time with is calling myself an artist or even what I create as being art. Selling online makes it difficult to call myself or what I do anything else, but it has never been comfortable. I guess that too comes from my childhood. Then the artists were the great ones, the masters, Di Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo. The great masters were the artists and everyone else was just, I don’t even know, just not that. Even the impressionists , who are among my favorites, were less in some way.
I guess that just became ingrained in me.

What was the first piece of art you sold?

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That was years ago. I had a large piece in a gallery and a young woman had seen it and asked if the gallery would hold the piece while she made payments on it. The gallery called me and we both agreed, for some reason never asking and not realizing she would go to the gallery every week with five dollars. The young woman must have been likable as the owner let her continue with the five dollars payments. Months went by and I had all but forgotten about the piece until the gallery called offering to forego their commission if I would except a much lower sale price. I don’t remember if I even covered my costs but it will always be my favorite sale.


Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?

Navigating the artworld? Oh my gosh, it is totally confusing and I feel doing it online is even more confusing. It is hard work, but so far with my online art I haven’t done all that much to say I am working very hard.

What are you personally doing to advance your work career?

Besides the actual making of some new art, and the note taking about the things I should be doing, I have to say that answering these questions is one of the few things I have done in some time. My most immediate plans are to create more new work that pertain to themes, perhaps paying better attention to what I am selling and expand on that. Up to this point I am all over the place with my online art. I feel I need to focus better and stop jumping around from piece to unrelated piece. I think trends are funny, they come and go, but I have been paying some attention to the trends of my own sales and feel a need to focus on that.

Halloween Moon

How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?

All my work I price according to size.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

I do use some social media, more for entertainment than anything art related. Facebook and Twitter are a couple of sites I use.

Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?

The thing about the “artworld” that annoys me the most is that I don’t understand it. I suppose if I did understand it better I would be better able to find more things that annoy me

Purple Moon Rise

What advice would you give new artists?

The best advice I can think to give is to love what you do. Be passionate about your art and love the journey. I see many artists that focus so much on their goal that it seems like they lose sight of the journey and become discouraged too quickly.

Have you got hobbies?

I will always consider anything art related a hobby. Photography is the newest thing I am exploring. I do enjoy a variety of outdoor activities but can’t really call any of them hobbies.

Red Ripple

Where are you based?

I live in the tri state area in a little city along the shore of the Delaware River.

Val Arie

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Isabella F A Shores

Founder / Artist at YoursByShores
Hello, my name is Isabella Shores.I'm a dog lover with two Alsatians.A bird lover...2 budgies, and an avid writer.

I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
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Kathy K. McClellan

What a great interview!
Val, you already know that I am a BIG fan of your work.
What an interesting life you have had growing up, touring the country.
Looking forward to more fabulous images from you.