Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ernie Marjoram, Joan Ransohoff, Grace Swanson: March 2-27, 2010

In Favorites, Grace Swanson’s watercolor and acrylic paintings draw from one of her favorite subjects – the still-life portrait. Swanson personifies still life arrangements of flowers, fruits, and animals in traditional figurative compositions in which the face or front of the object is predominant. Taking a photorealistic approach, Swanson amplifies her floral arrangements with heightened color, contrasting shadow, and dynamic scale to impart energy and express the personality, beauty, and even the mood of the object.

The title of the show also refers to show’s watercolor paintings that have received accolades from prominent members of the art world who juried Swanson’s work into national and regional competitions. Swanson states “since a juror’s choice for awards and inclusion into an exhibit is subjective, I consider my accepted paintings as among the jurors’ favorites.”

One such painting is “Tulips,” exhibited at the Watercolor USA Exhibition at the Springfield Museum of Art in 2005, which depicts a brilliant bouquet of deep-pink tulips tossed onto the painting surface. Swanson lovingly applies layer upon layer of rich glazes to the petals and leaves to create luminous transparency and meticulous verisimilitude.

Known for paintings of architectural landscapes, his current exhibition Figures and Faces represents a new direction for Los Angeles artist Ernie Marjoram. The exhibition includes drawings and paintings created from live models in a variety of mediums including graphite, charcoal, pastel, watercolor and oils. “I find the human face and figure to be among the most complex subjects, and I work from life as a way to develop and test my drawing and painting skills.“

Amidst the current resurgence of artistic interest in the figure, there are many locations in LA where groups of artists have access to professional models and can draw short five to 15 minute poses and longer three hour modeling sessions. “I work in a variety of media depending on the amount of time I will have and the result I hope to achieve. Photographic accuracy, even a strong likeness are not my objectives, instead I seek to capture the natural character of my subjects while exploring the effects of light and color.”

Figures and Faces includes quickly executed color sketches as well as more finished paintings done in the studio based on preliminary drawings.

Joan Ransohoff's colorful paintings are the result of a love of beauty and a focus on nature, trying to capture the light and changing vivid colors.
Raised in Glenview, Illinois, she studied life drawing in studio classes at Northwestern University, but not until she moved to Los Angeles in 1980 did she study plein air painting on location with the California Art Club.

"Painting outdoors changed everything," she said. "Trying to record nature as the light shifts with rapid brushstrokes, in fresh colors is very challenging, but the results can be magical."

As an artist, Ransohoff's believes nature is the best teacher.

"In California, I only have to step out my door. I don't over analyze any scene or set up. I just try to channel the inspiration I feel and hope that I can express these feelings on canvas."

This exhibit is largely a collection of landscapes depicting the California coastline from Malibu to Cambria. But it also includes scenes painted on location in Carmel and Malibu State Park, two small harbor scenes from Martha's Vineyard, painted last summer, and two large still-lifes dealing with Asian pots and jars and fruit and flowers which are recent endeavors inspired by all the rainy days.

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Interview With Joan Ransohoff

Orchids and Fruit with Asian Objects
oil on canvas 36 x 36"
Joan Ransohoff

Joan Ransohoff's artwork is dedicated to capturing the many moods, colors and compositions of nature.

How long have you been an artist?

I’m always reluctant to say – it took a lot of years to even call myself an artist. It wasn’t a moniker or name that I took casually. So it wasn’t until I actually started selling work – that was a kind of validation – that I felt I earned the title. I guess I always wanted to be an artist – I remember drawing and wanting to create as a child. But I do recall the moment when I decided I wanted to be an artist: I was 30 years old. I had gone to an art show downtown at the convention center. I watched an art demonstration in which a woman did an entire painting with a palette knife. I was by myself and I remember watching her and thinking to myself, I’m not sure I want to paint with a palette knife, but I want to do this. I want to explore this process. From that point on I became very involved with the California Art Club, which was my real introduction to representational painting and painting in the style I ultimately paint in today. That was about 1984.

Are your family and friends supportive of your art?

Yes. Very much. I think it took my husband awhile to believe that to take my painting seriously I had to ratch up the time invested. So when I initially began painting a few hours a day, he viewed it like golf, a hobby. But then it quickly merged into something more serious. I was taking part in groups shows and exhibitions. I’d go off to Scottsdale art workshops during the winter months and he would say, “I don’t care where you go, just pick a place near a golf course.” So I tried to integrate our interests for awhile. My daughter was entering high school and my son in sixth grade when I started painting. And my husband had four children of his own. My biggest challenge was having the courage to say: "Here’s what I need from you. I’m really serious about my art and I need your full and total support." And they did and still do. My husband is my biggest fan.

Where do you your find inspiration for your work?

I love painting outdoors and living in California; we have such an unbelievable paradise all around us – I find inspiration just driving down Sunset Boulevard to the beach, driving downtown or driving over to the valley. I am so distracted by the views. Just the other day, I was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard and because of the rains, there was so much snow in the mountains beyond Hollywood in the San Gabriels . It was incredible.

I also go out on a mission to visit museums and galleries to see the latest art. I just went to the FADA Show at the Los Angeles Convention center. I’m constantly investigating the art scene and just being at Bergamot is fun and seeing what other galleries are exhibiting – it’s different, very cutting edge, contemporary.

How do you decide on your palette?

If I’m painting outdoors, I have a simplified palette, restricted to about 10 or 12 colors. It’s easier to navigate with a limited palette and the emphasis is on the blues, greens and yellows. In the studio I might use twice that amount, 20 to 24 colrs, especially if I’m doing a large piece. When I was new I took a workshop with Kevin MacPherson, and we spent one whole week just color mixing. He works with a very limited palette and it was a great exercise. However, the next time I was in an art store and saw this tube of Delft blue paint, I bought it. I felt it was cheating but it was such rich, pure color.

If you had a few galleries to visit in your area which ones would you choose?

The Karges Fine Art Gallery, which is now in Beverly Hills, and the Edenhurst Gallery, which is on Melrose and also in Palm Desert. And the Wally Findlay Gallery on Robertson, and of course, the Morseburg Gallery, which is on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood.

Which historical artists have most influenced your work - and which living contemporary mentors and teachers do you respond to?

One of the periods of art I respond to is the Barbizon School, in which so many of the artists were luminists, a style of painting I really admire and would like to pursue that feeling in my landscapes. It‟s something I‟m attracted to rather than influenced by. In terms of influence: Pissarro, Monet, Cezanne, many of the European impressionists. Then there are the American artists such as Percy Gray, Guy Rose, Elmer and Marion Wachtel, Edgar Payne and William Wendt.

Karl Dempwolf took us on an excursion to Malibu Creek State Park a couple of years ago. We all planted our easels and he said, “Now look straight ahead. William Wendt painted that mountain and your mission today is to paint that mountain. Let’s try and channel the spirit of William Wendt.” I’ll never forget it. The California impressionists had a big impact on me and I’m really inspired by their work.

Early Autumn
oil on canvas 24 x 20"
Joan Ransohoff

I never went to art school and I’m not classically trained. When you take up painting in your middle years, you have to start out with the best teachers so as to benefit from their academic training in color, design, perspective, texture, paint application – the elements you need to know to paint. My first teachers were Ray Roberts and John Budicin, both skilled landscape artists and gifted teachers. I found a common thread that connected their teaching and painting philosophies. Sharon Burkett Kaiser, originally a still life painter, taught Friday classes in Malibu and I studied with Karl Dempwolf who taught me that trees are never straight. Ralph Oberg was wonderful – and I must say I had a baptism of fire with a Russian painter-- I’ll say no more.

Joan Ransohoff

Joan Ransohoff's next exhibit at TAG Gallery opens March 2, 2010.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Interview With Grace Swanson

Grace Swanson's photorealistic work is inspired by the formal approach of the 17th Century Dutch Masters made vibrant with a modern outlook.

watercolor 18 x 30"
Grace Swanson

Why do you make art?

Because I can. It’s something I enjoy doing. I think of my work as a craft. Some people think you need a special talent for art. Of course, there can be physical limitations. One can’t become a good singer if you can’t keep a tune. Certain persons may have good eye/hand coordination which gives them an edge. But I think of art as an acquired and practiced craft, as musicians must practice their craft or as a furniture maker masters his craft. I don’t want to reduce my work to arts and crafts, but I do believe that the more you practice, the more skilled you become, the better you see, the better you anticipate.

When did you first realize you were an artist (and/or have the courage to identify yourself as one)?

I think it was when I was about 10 years old. We had a Shetland Sheepdog and it was my chore to brush the dog. One day, I decided to make a pillow out of the dog’s hair. I wrapped it in Saran Wrap and stapled the ends. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing I could have created. I recall the feeling of pride, having come up with an original idea that was kind of silly but something brand new. I think that was my first real understanding of creativity. I greatly admire the artist that can be really inventive because it’s something that does not come easy to me. Out of 100 ideas only two or three may be new and innovative. I admire it in all the arts: film, writing, music.

I grew up as I think a lot of people did being told by their parents that art may be your passion and how great to have the ability to be an artist, but it would be better to do it as a leisure activity. That it’s not a practical career choice. I didn’t personally know any professional artists and I knew it was hard to make a living out of art unless you wanted to teach.

Did you go to an art school, and if so, are you satisfied with the experience?

I got my Studio Arts degree at Loyola Marymount University and what I really appreciated was the fact that I was forced to take classes in the fundamentals, such as drawing, design, etc., learning the formal aspects of art, studying how master artists have worked throughout history. It now allows me the freedom to experiment. I can take my work to new places with a deliberate direction, and I think I’m able to do that because I have a foundation to work with. I graduated from Loyola in 1996 – it was a wonderful experience to go back as an older student. You absorb everything because you really want it. I liked studying the Old Masters so much that I also pursued an Art History degree.

My art is inspired by the 17th century Dutch Masters who emphasized the contrast of dark and light. I use complementary colors in my work – I like the push-pull, say of red and green. These are the formal aspects of painting that I find myself intuiting now after having studied it for so long. I like to think I approach watercolor in a modern way even though my influences are historic. I work deliberately with high contrast with really dark darks and very rich colors. I like to glaze both my watercolors and acrylics with several washes so that you can see the actual pigment sit on the surface.

You work in two medias: watercolor and acrylic - how do the two influence each other and what are the limitations of each?

I think my style remains the same in both media, primarily photorealism, and my compositions are similar, my brushstrokes similar. I just really love watercolors and my heart belongs with watercolor, but working in acrylic recently has been an interesting change.

It’s like practicing two languages. I had a hard time transitioning back into the acrylics. I was using too much water because I’m so used to the brush flowing with the paint, as opposed to the paint being the primary touch on the canvas. The fluidity of water is what I think is primary to watercolor.

I originally began working in watercolor because it was a convenient medium for me. I could take my paints with me if I traveled. They were easy to haul around. Watercolors didn’t occupy a lot of space in my home, having the limitation of a small room to work in. I didn’t have to store a lot of canvasses so I started for practical reasons. With oils there were environmental concerns. How do I deal with the turpentine issue and old paint? Acrylic made more sense but again I felt I had to cope with a lot of equipment and materials so I went forward with watercolors.

I'm Not Sure
acrylic on canvas 30 x 24"
Grace Swanson

How often do you start a new work?

When I’m working towards a show, it usually takes me two to three weeks to finish a piece, otherwise my work takes one to two months. I probably average about 100 hours of painting a month.

Who are some artists producing work that you like?

I’m a big fan of Joseph Raffael and the late Carolyn Brady. Both are watercolorists. Both concentrate on still lifes. Raffael does a lot of florals and he’s a colorist, as was Brady. They are able to infuse their watercolors with a lot of color, richly saturated. They maintain detail and also stress composing their work. Brady did many traditional still lifes using objects, and you can see the thinking behind her choices. For example, she’d choose a special tablecloth which matched a particular piece of china or the vase and flower had to be at just the right angle. These deliberate compositions are what I aspire to do as well: to think before I paint.

Grace Swanson in the studio.

Grace Swanson's next exhibit at TAG Gallery opens March 2, 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ernie Marjoram: An Interview

Ponte Vecchio
oil 12 x 16"
Ernie Marjoram

Inspired and influenced by renaissance masters, Ernie Marjoram explores with traditional and contemporary tools the environments, faces, and figures around him.

Do you work in more than one medium? If so, how do the two (or more) influence each other?

I work predominately in oils, but also acrylics, watercolors, pastels, charcoal, pen and ink, and graphite. I think there are a lot of similarities between them. One of the things I try to focus on is light and shadow in whatever medium I’m working in and on color.

There are different idiosyncrasies; acrylics dry fast; when I am paintings outdoors I like acrylics. Oils dry slower and I use oils in the studio much more. I like the simplicity of graphite and pencil – to just go someplace and sit and sketch. You can stick them in your pocket and you’re on your way.

Where do you your find inspiration for your works?

I try to travel a lot, when I’m in an interesting place I look for interesting views, interesting architecture. My background is in architecture so I like to draw perspectives of different environments. So I’ll go to traditional monuments as well as unrecognized places. When I’m in a new town I try to find places off the beaten path as well as postcard kind of views.

I also work with figures. My next show coming up is Figures and Faces I use live models here locally in the Los Angeles area so I’m inspired by life and the people around me. I think that’s going to be a different direction. I’ve never exhibited this stuff before.

oil 36 x 24"
Ernie Marjoram

Is that scary?

I’ve come to terms with it. It is a little scary, but I’m getting to a point where I want to put out the stuff I’ve painted just for myself and see what happens.

Whom do you make art for?

Lately I’m trying really to do it for myself. Over the years I actually got into art because I made art for architects, interior designers and situations like that – I did a lot of commercial illustration and still do. That’s kind of bread and butter. That’s allowed me to travel to places and paint for myself. Lately I’m doing more and more of painting just for myself, because of the economy and because of my own desire to explore things on my own.

Does art serve a function beyond decorating walls?

Yes, I think so, particularly for the artist. For me it’s self-expression, it’s trying to show other people the way I see the world. I try to paint in an optimistic way. I like paintings which are pleasant and happy and colorful and not necessarily threatening or making people uncomfortable. So for me it’s a way of saying something to the people I know and maybe people who don’t know me, but just see the work. So it’s trying to express my view of the world. I think for the people that buy the artwork it potentially reaffirms their own outlook on the world. If they have an optimistic character I think then they relate to work that is optimistic. If they’re edgy and have more of an attitude then I think they buy artwork that reflects their own taste. I think it serves a lot of purposes.

Is there anyone else in your family that is an artist?

My son. He is a 21-year-old junior at USC studying video game design. He’s had full run of my art studio since he was 7 years old and has taken off and gone in a whole new direction. He illustrates for the Daily Trojan on a weekly basis. He does pen and ink sketches for their editorials. He has done a number of concepts for video games. He has been an intern for USC and is very comfortable both with analogue pen and pencil as well as digital tools He does modeling in Maya, Photoshop…all that kind of stuff.

Is there a separation between your "normal" life and your artwork?

No, not really. In many ways my normal life involves artwork. I’m very fortunate that even my commercial work and my income come from art. Even though it’s for clients and it’s illustrating their projects, it’s a big part of my life. I think art is an integral part of what I do.

In addition I teach at the American Film Institute in their production design department so that’s another big component where art is a part of my normal day to day life.

Can you teach somebody to be an artist or is it an innate ability?

I think you can teach it. I think in many ways desire is more important than talent. If somebody really wants to learn, I think they can.

I’ve explained to my students that it’s a lot like learning how to read and write. If you spend as much time learning how to draw and paint as you do learning the alphabet and vocabulary and syntax and grammar and things like that, you can become a competent artist. Not everybody becomes Shakespeare, but you can get to the point where you can write something that’s pretty good.

Same thing with art. You need to go beyond the technical aspects. But, you can learn the technical aspects, absolutely. The people that want to do it, the people that really work hard are the ones that get better. Somebody that comes in that has the innate talent and already thinks they’re really good at it, sometimes they plateau.

What excites you about painting?

The challenge of it, the not knowing whether it’s going to come out right or not. I do try to push myself. One of the reasons that I paint faces and figures is because it’s not easy for me. To try to make that come out - it’s really exciting when it clicks. Sometimes it can be frustrating when it doesn’t, but I just try to say the next one’s going to be better or put it away and look at it again in six months or paint over it and see if I can improve it.

You have to evacuate your studio due to a fire, flood, or tornado coming. Along with your important papers and family photos you can only take one piece of your artwork. Which one do you take and why?

I have a painting over my piano that is a view of Florence, Italy. Florence is my second favorite place, my second home, one of my favorite places in the world. I studied there as an architecture student. My wife is from there and we get to go back every year. That particular painting has a lot of sentimental value to it. It’s a sunset over Piazza Michelangelo looking at the church.

Ernie Marjoram

Ernie Marjoram’s next exhibit at TAG Gallery opens March 2, 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Santa Monica Police Retrieve Missing Painting

Malibu Lagoon
oil on canvas 18 x 18"
Joan Horsfall Young

The painting was apparently taken during the last week of November from TAG Gallery’s old location on Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica. While preparing for her latest exhibition, artist Joan Horsfall Young checked to make sure her website was showing up properly in searches and was surprised to notice a link to one of her recent works being auctioned on EBay. It was surprising since to Young's knowledge the painting had not yet been sold. She reported this to EBay and to the police. Police got right on it and retrieved the painting within 10 days. The seller, an Internet art dealer, had purchased the artwork from a flea market in Irwindale. No clues as to how it traveled from the gallery to the flea market, but the artist is very happy to have the painting back. The painting, "Malibu Lagoon", had just been shown at the Bennington Museum in Vermont.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pam Douglas, Joan Horsfall Young: February 2 -27, 2010

TAG Gallery is pleased to present:
“The Seekers Series” by Pam Douglas and “Caught in Time” by Joan Horsfall Young

February 2 through 27, 2010
Artists Reception: Saturday, February 6 from 5 to 8 pm
Artists Talk: Thursday, February 25 from 6 to 8 pm

“The Seekers Series” by Pam Douglas are ethereal scrolls that reflect ancient Asian paintings through contemporary sensibilities.

In this new work, raw linen, freed from its stretchers, is allowed to ripple with its textures. Using charcoal and water media in a limited palette, mountain-scapes are punctuated by subtle figures and geometries to suggest order amidst wilderness, an underlying balance in the universe. Douglas says this series is influenced by her respect for Zen artists of the first millennium who believed in using their instincts more than their brush and for whom paintings were poetry.

Douglas's recent shows include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Sales and Rental Gallery in 2009. In 2008, she won juried exhibits at TarFest, i-5 Gallery at the Brewery Art Complex, and The California Open at TAG. In 2007, she had a solo show at the James Gray Gallery. Her paintings are in many private collections and appear in a Battlestar Galactica documentary as part of an actor’s collection.

“Caught in Time” by Joan Horsfall Young

In this series, Joan Horsfall Young has captured timeless images in order to prolong the fleeting moment of the subject matter’s existence: boats at anchor, flowers in bloom or a child sleeping. All to soon, however, the boat will be back at sea, the flowers will fade and the child will awaken. Her work is a reminder to “seize the moment”. Enjoy the subtleties and precariousness of the moment’s creation.

Young maintains that everything has been painted before, but each time we encounter an artifact in our universe, there is reason to repaint it, this time in its new time and place, and with a new spin. It is about discarding and rearranging the material. Using soft buttery paint and loose brushwork she molds the form based on an armature of good drawing. “As if attending a great pot of soup, we artists just dip into it but have no real claim to it. We need only to be thankful the soup is available” Lévi-Strauss.

Young is an Artist Member of the California Art Club and the Oil Painters of America. Her work has been shown in numerous museums both in the United States and Canada. Her collectors are throughout the world. Along with Landscape and Still Life painting, she also has painted Canadian, and American Military and did a show on West Point.

TAG Gallery
Bergamot Station D3
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pam Douglas Interview

32 x 30" diptych mixed media on raw linen
Pam Douglas

Pam Douglas is a Los Angeles artist who works on raw linen using a stain process that allows for the unexpected.

How long have you been an artist?

That’s a more complex question than you may think because I stopped painting for 20 years just as I was finding my artistic “voice.”

But back to the beginning -- as a child, my art form was writing, so I didn’t have much visual art in my experience until I went to college. I was still just a teenager when I took a studio art class and my world opened up. I virtually moved into the art studio at Vassar, and I never wanted to leave it after that.

Then I went on to graduate school in art at Columbia in New York. My basic art education was very traditional, a lot of emphasis on materials and skills and a strong grounding in Western art history. But later I took off into what became a life-long interest in Asian art. I took some classes in ancient Chinese and Japanese painting and sculpture at Cornell, where they had an excellent department. Even back then, something in me responded to the Zen Masters of the first millennium. To them, the notion of painting wasn’t so much about what was on the canvas, but what was not on the canvas. Their idea had much to do with instinct. They were working with wet mediums, which you really cannot manipulate that much. The idea of layers of thick paint was alien to them. Probably you can see the influence of that in my most recent work.

The rest of the story is that after all of that background and loving that kind of thing, I found out that I could not make a living as an artist. So I had better doggone well do something else. I had always had talent as a writer so I went into screenwriting. For 20 years I put aside all of my artwork. I did not paint at all because I couldn’t do a little bit of it. Either I had to really care about it and do it or not touch it.

And then my life changed. In 2005 I had very serious back surgery, and I was unable to drive or work, even walk, for many months. During that time, painting was what got me up in the morning. When I was thinking of the painting I wasn’t thinking of what hurt. That’s when I started to come back to life. At first, returning to painting after a 20-year lapse was like getting back on a bicycle. You don’t forget how to ride it, but you’re a little wobbly at first. My technique took the better part of a year to come back. Now here’s the amazing realization: When I look at my current work and look at work from when I was 17 and 18, it’s seamless. Back then I was working with the stain technique, with raw linen. It’s almost as if those 20 years did not exist at all.

Can you share about your technique?

Currently, I use raw linen, which isn’t sealed in any way. It’s actually a piece of cloth. The Sepia Series was on specially made stretchers, so it was tight, which made it look more like a normal painting. In this new series, I took it off the stretchers altogether so it’s just a soft cloth rippling down from a piece of wood at the top. It gives me a surface that’s not flat. It was very, very challenging. It does wrinkle up, it dries oddly, it shrinks. It shrinks unevenly sometimes. I was in a way fighting the material the whole time. But this gave me some interesting textures. In both the Sepia Series and the new Seekers Series I used acrylic heavily watered, and with lots of medium -- using acrylic as watercolor basically. I also draw on the canvas with inks and charcoal. The liquids move into each other in interesting ways, but the result is not random. I work from measurements and under-paintings and drawings on most of them.

Do you have an idea in mind when you start?

I usually do and sometimes I actually even draw it first. But I am frequently overruled by the paint. Some of the paintings are a “joint venture” between the materials and me. With Follow the River, I had a problem with that canvas -- it had a manufacturing crease, and I couldn’t iron out the fold. I wetted it, I tried everything, but I didn’t want to throw away the canvas. So I used the line as a pictorial element and as soon as I did that the mountains opened up.

20 x 20" acrylic on raw linen
Pam Douglas

Who do you make art for?

The first answer that came to my mind was God, or Universal Spirit or Life Force.

I don’t have a person in mind. I don’t make it for somebody. I don’t have an image of someone’s living room couch.

I also only marginally make it for myself. I appreciate when other artists respond to the work, but honestly it is really an expression of a meditative, or yogic, or spiritual practice.

In that sense, I’m delighted to have sales, but that’s not my purpose.

How do you decide on your palette?

I had worked with a lot of color, just before the Sepia Series. I love color. I had simply reached the end of what I could say with color at that time. I was reaching for a purity of statement in that series. I really wanted to get away from anything garish or in your face. I was coming out of a time of being very sick, of looking for peace more than anything else, and I wanted the paintings to be serene, and color just felt wrong at that time. Once I started working with the Sepia Series I realized that there was a lot of color, that there are many shades of brown, many shades of white, and even shades of black. I realized that this is much richer than I initially thought. In the new Seekers Series the palette started going further into blacks and whites. But as I reached the end of it I started introducing more color and I think my next series will have more color.

What excites you about painting?

Discovery, I think discovery. When you have an idea and you get an initial little thrill of what’s in your mind, about what it could be. And then when you’re doing it, the painting actually changes and it grows. Sometimes what you initially thought was going to work, won’t work, but something else will. And that’s exciting. There are times when some of these that should have been done quickly took a very, very, long time. I learned you couldn’t make them follow your original idea; you really need to let them be what they need to be.

What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

Ah well, the first answer that comes to mind is money. The costs of the materials themselves. Forget even your personal work time. The actual physical materials mount up. And people don’t realize that what they are paying to the artist barely covers the cost of their supplies, and then when you also add that you’re doing what it takes to put on a show and giving a commission to the gallery, there’s very little, if any, profit to the artist. And that’s not even counting compensation for time.

Do you have a favorite painting, either yours or somebody else’s?

I have some that I like best among my own of course, but I’d go back to big influences. When I was a young teenager, I used to take the subway to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and look at their permanent collection, especially the Abstract Expressionists. I was impressed by Robert Motherwell. He worked entirely in black and white, and I respond to the underlying rhythm of the black and white to this day. I also loved the Flemish painters when I studied them; Vermeer and Rembrandt. Beyond that I would have to go to the ancient Chinese and Japanese work, the floating world. Among the first millennium Chinese painters, I don’t know if I would pick out one. If I’m looking for inspiration, wondering what the next painting will be, I have these books, they’re not even good books, they’re 3” x 3” and I’ll just flip through them to bring myself back, to recalibrate myself back to what is wonderful.

Pam Douglas working in her outdoor studio.

Pam Douglas's exhibit at TAG Gallery opens February 2.