This week I was fortunate enough to be introduced to an amazing artist, Paula Matthiesen. Welcome Paula, thank you for agreeing to this interview ~we can’t wait to learn more about you and your wonderful work.
Belinda, first of all let me thank you for your interest in interviewing me, I do appreciate it!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the role that art has played in your life.
First of all, I am a “late bloomer” artistically. I don’t have an art based education. My first introduction to art came in 2000 in a craft store in the Portland area that was offering oil painting classes. I admired the class project and my husband encouraged me to take the class. After several days of back and forth, he, insisting that I give the class a try and me, stating that I could never create something that beautiful because I had never even picked up a brush…. he won. I attended the class. I came home with an amazing painting and a pocket full of excitement….I could not wait to get to the next class!
When did you realize that creating art was something you wanted/needed to do?
After that first class, I realized that not only could I do this; with work and practice, I might be able to do it well! I worked at learning and refining the techniques and then studied to become an instructor. With that under my belt, I began teaching hobby classes. I taught for local community colleges, parks and recreation programs and community education programs. It was tremendous to bring the level of excitement for art that I had experienced to others.
After teaching for several years in the Portland/Vancouver area, we moved to Woodburn, OR where I began work as Executive Director of the Woodburn Art Center and Glatt House Gallery.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Being around art and artists full time is very inspiring! Just the conversational exchange was enough to get my fires burning. I have found if you let your mind and imagination wander, you can find inspiration everywhere, both internally and externally. If you listen to your emotions, you can find inspiration within yourself. If you allow those emotions to manifest themselves on canvas, it can not only be cathartic for the artist, but highly creative and satisfying.
I have what I like to call an “I wonder what would happen if” mind. What would happen if I tried this? I have no fear when it comes to art.
What is the best advice you have received with regards to the creative process and what words of wisdom could you offer an aspiring artist?
The best advice I have gotten regarding traditional painting came recently from another instructor. I had never tried portrait drawing or painting so I thought, what the heck, I’ll give this a try! I was struggling a bit with the eyes of the little girl I was drawing. The Instructor said to me, “paint what you see, not what you think you see”! I have said that to myself many times since that class. Very good advice.
What I always tell the budding artists in my classes is “release the fear”. Once you lose the fear, you can do anything! I also think that once you have blocked that little voice in your head that says, “don’t do that, you will spoil your painting” or “you can’t mix those together” or “no one else does it that way, people will laugh” is when the creativity really starts. I also tell them, ”paint for yourself. Paint what you like, what gives you pleasure and satisfies your soul. If someone else likes your work that is the bonus!” I think satisfying the artistic soul is a very important part of creating.
Which artist inspired/inspires you and what draws you to this person’s work?
Really, the artist that inspired me and encouraged me was Bob Ross. Yep, Happy Trees and Dancing Clouds, that Bob. He looks you in the eye, tells you that you can do it and you believe him! I find that kind of confidence and encouragement very inspiring!
What are some of the artistic challenges that you have faced and how did you overcome them?
When I first began painting, I worked in the traditional genre, landscapes, seascapes and still life. In 2010 I experienced a life changing event. My younger sister was diagnosed with a fast moving and terminal cancer. She was diagnosed in March and passed on July 4th of the same year. Along with losing her I lost interest in most things along with my art. I entered an ‘artistic desert’ of sorts. Then one gray, drizzly spring day in 2011 I reentered my studio. I pulled out the largest canvas I could find, a bucket of heavy body molding paste and every bright colored tube of paint I could find. That day my series of paintings that I call “The Wild Things” was born. The Wild Things have not only been emotionally and creatively satisfying but commercially successful also.
Where can we find your work?