The shared thoughts and artwork of Pam Perras.
Pam is a visiting artist from Wakefield, MA. Her work will be on exhibit at the Melrose Arts Festival on April 26-28, 2013.
Q. What does Art mean to you?
Art gives me a chance to be highly aware and focused on subjects I love and wish to share with others. Nature, people, still life. Creating art offers a constant source of discovery about the world and my reaction to it. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, frustrating. But, pair that with the amazing, “in-the-zone” experiences where all that is possible flows like music, I can’t help but love the journey. I love learning.
Q. In your Bio you mention your love of painting outdoors – “hearing birds, feeling the heat or a cool breeze, the smell of water”. Do you find that these unseen experiences influence what you capture by sight?
Yes, I do. All of nature, not just its visual qualities, affects me. I imagine that my emotional reaction to the sounds, smells, the temperature of air on the skin, influence me in ways I can’t verbalize. It all beckons to me! When painting outdoors, I find it exhilarating to create a painting during the short amount of time nature allows. It’s requires thinking on your feet and responding to nature in a very direct way.
Q. Is there a time of day you find yourself always painting during?
No. This winter I’ve painted in the studio a lot. My schedule allows me to paint during the day and focus on family and home in the evening, but I’ve been known to burn the candle at both ends! I paint nearly every day and have started to work on several paintings at once (but not always quickly).
Q. Have you always loved to paint?
I have always loved art in general, but have focused on painting the last twelve years. I was a graphic designer for many years (and still do it occasionally). I love to draw, have done collage and clay sculpture (for myself).
Q. As a former art teacher, what do you feel is an important lesson to be learned?
Art is such a great field, if learning excites you. No matter how good you are, you can always discover ways to improve. You learn from your own work and from others’. For whatever misguided reason, when I was in school many teachers would tell students, “don’t copy others, do your own work!” As a young artist, one of the best ways to learn is to copy masterful work, while also doing your own. Study the techniques and compositions of master artists; you will eventually find your own personal style. Read about art history. Be an avid learner of all things—nature, science, humanities. Who knows how your artistic journey may be influenced? I enjoyed being a graphic designer because it also exposed me to many different fields and ideas.
Q. Do you have any formal training?
I would say I’m mostly self-taught. I did get a BFA in fine art (painting and sculpture), but the focus at the time was on abstract expressionism and conceptual art. Although I appreciate some of the great qualities to be found in abstract art, I would have preferred to master the traditional skills first. I have an MFA in graphic design. Some of the skills I learned for graphic design have influenced my art, I’m sure. I’ve taken painting classes and workshops in the past six years.
Q. What do you do when you are not painting?
I enjoy reading about all different things, including art; I love to garden, hike, bike, go to museums.
Q. What is your current work about? What are you trying to explore and how has that evolved since you started?
This winter, I’ve organized weekly figure/portrait sessions for a group of artists in my studio in Amesbury. In addition to landscapes, I have always loved painting and drawing people. I’m working on new ideas and will see where they take me. My goal is to explore figurative work, not necessarily become a portrait painter. I’ve been taking classes with Kelly Carmody, which has made me step back and address fundamental aspects of my work, like light/dark patterns, composition, modeling of forms. It’s a challenging time! As a representational artist, I’d love to include beautifully turned forms in my paintings. I’m experiencing a bumpy learning curve these days, but it’s great! With the warmer weather, I’ll also be painting outdoors with a group of plein air painters called Band of Brushes. I’ve been a member for 6 years.
Q. How do you relate art to life?
I can’t separate the two, yet I’m still trying to figure out how to make more meaningful connections in my work. In everyday life, my family has posed for me and listened to my excited comments about nature, landscapes, skies. When my sons and their cousins were young, they were supportive and helpful, too—bringing me abandoned nests, bits of nature and hiking and enjoying the outdoors while I’ve painted.