|POTAK: STORMY DAY...|
|POTAK: COUNTRY FARM|
The artist that I have had the immense pleasure of interviewing for today's blog epitomizes exactly what I've said. His art speaks. Period.
His name is Russ Potak.
|POTAK: NUBBLE LIGHTHOUSE|
KIM: Well HELLLOOO Russ Potak! Will you kindly describe the type of art you create and the medium (media) you use?
RUSS POTAK (RP): The type of art that I create now, compared to what I used to produce in my "earlier years" like say, back in college and shortly after, is a lot different. I find that I constantly find and re-find myself which tends to influence the type of work that I do. But generally speaking, compared to the 7x7 foot abstract works that I did then, I'm pretty tame as to what I'm doing now. I liken myself more to impressionist and expressionist, and occasionally go outside of those boundaries. A loose form of impressionism incorporated with a dash of expressionist brushwork. Subjects are anything and everything, because, as I always say, for me its not so much the subject, but a sensation, a mood, a feeling, a cause and effect, a sense of place,, but never the "thing".
I don't care about things. I care about life.
|POTAK: SUMMER SUNFLOWER|
As Aristotle once said, “The aim of art, is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but the inward significance."
And to do this I use to use oils primarily back in college before I knew what the word marketing meant. Now that I understand that word, I use acrylics. The reason being is that I ship a lot of work around via the places I sell online, and to do that requires the medium be good and dry. Oils just don't cut it. With the quickness of my painting method, I can produce more finished pieces ready for delivery to buyers than if I had to tell them that they would have to wait a month before I can send the painting to them. Not good marketing procedures. Not to get off the beaten path of acrylics, but I also like pen and ink and watercolor, and just plain old pencil, Even crayons. Anything that makes a mark.
|POTAK: MAINE SEASCAPE|
If suddenly there were no art stores in existence I'd be crushing clay and plant berries to get some colors, and using a sharpened burned stick for my art. I don't care. And I really mean that. I DON'T CARE. Anything that works to get the image in my being onto whatever, is the point. Not the medium. So much for that question. I could go on, but then that would constitute a book, not an interview.
KIM: Do you sketch out your work first and then paint or do you just go from your head or heart?
RP: Well, some of that I mentioned in the above question. Whooops! I rambled so much I dribbled answers on the wrong question. Anyway, I do both and more. I sketch out a composition that’s sitting in my head, I sketch out a scene that impressed me that I might have passed moments ago on a drive, I sketch out a sensation that I had or a dream like feeling, I sketch out an interpretation of something I'm standing in front of, I sketch out a doodle that turns into something as if by magic. The doodle becomes as real as anything that’s out there in the "real world". And I also, will use a photo as a last resort. I don't like them, as I believe they are too defined, and leading. I would much rather use a sketch. I put in what I want, and leave out what I choose. Photos don't do that. I also work from still life and anything that’s in front of me, as a launch pad to start a work of art.
|POTAK: MEDITERRANEAN SEA|
... And I say this, tongue in cheek,... occasionally, I go out with my little picnic basket and easel, and set up down by the duck pond and listen to Disney music in the background as I capturer the essence of the moment. More than likely, though,.. Not. Believe you me, I would love nothing more than to do that, but as an artist making a living from my art, I can’t afford to "hobby" and have that kind of fun. I need to produce art that goes somewhere with the buying public. And time is of the essence. Studio work is quicker, faster, more predictable and I can multi-task with my marketing work while I at the easel. I appreciate the hobby of painting, but I can't afford to go there.
KIM: Is your work currently being displayed in any galleries/museums?
RP: I have had my work in assorted and eclectic shops, galleries, and retail outlets throughout my history. I am now at a point where I have focused my energies and time for online activity and representation, of which I have a fair share. The last long lived gallery that I was showing in was in W. Stockbridge, Ma. Not far from the Norman Rockwell Museum and homestead. Also the town, famous for "Alice's Restaurant" of the infamous Arlo Guthrie that makes his home in this area, as well as James Taylor, but that’s a "chamber of commerce moment" and I have to get on with my story. So anyway, it was called the Train Station Gallery, probably the best one and longest running one I've ever been in. Unfortunately it had to close as did a host of others I was in, because of a huge sagging economy that dragged them down like the Titanic after it hit an iceberg. So sad to see all of quality galleries go down the drain, because of that. That was one of my defining moments though that led me to pursue something more stable and far reaching; something that would stand the test of the economy and time; the internet.
|POTAK: LONG TALL COFFEE|
So, aside from the literally hundreds of coffee shops I've exhibited in, and business corporations, and museums, libraries, schools, hospitals, private exhibitions, group shows, historical sites, and on and on, and I mean on and on... I now reserve my time and energy to a more congealed and easy to work plan, with less time burned with more results... using on line representation. Not to say, I still don't have private showings, and I always love a good coffee shop to hang my work in.... but I choose when and where (usually because it has to fit in with the schedule of my life now). I also add to this list, outdoor art and craft festival, and indoor art exhibitions as well as an occasional art in the park kind of thing. Now carrying Russ Potak's originals: The Manchester House, Manchester, Vermont email@example.com
KIM: In MY humble opinion, mood and tone (yes tone) are key players in any painting, yours are loaded with both; is there any one painting that “speaks louder” than others and why?
RP: That’s like asking to pick out your favorite son, or daughter. But, for all practical reasons, this one has (in my opinion) set the tone with both color and the translative process employing both energetic and expressive paint application with tones that speak in harmony of the exact impression that moved me to paint it in the first place: A scene out of my studio window, in the early morning which lasted only moments. I had to grab a pencil, the back of a cardboard box and sketch it immediately before I lost the moment. Later after my coffee, I purged it all upon a canvas. This is it. :Etsy Transaction - THE BREAK OF DAY / Original Painting
KIM: Do you have any advice for the artist/artisan who is just starting out?
RP: Yes, don't give up your day job. Hahaha! Sorry, just had to get that one in. No, actually do give it up. But only if you like the TV show Survivor, because more than likely, unless you love the work more than the money, you're going to drown. You have to love what you're doing to the point of, “if I make it, good, if I don't, I'll find a way to survive, somehow, someway”.
|POTAK: CHICKEN WITH FARM|
I always say, “You can't learn to swim with one foot on the shore and one foot in the water. Either jump in, or find a nice place on the beach to spread out”. Now that said, if you would like to do art, as a whenever, and however interest, and you are not looking to jump into the mix professionally, then you have a lot of options. Do it, don't do it, whenever, whatever, as the mood hits, or doesn't, and you get to join all the clubs and art groups and sit around and talk art and gardens. Note my sarcasm sometimes, it helped me to produce some income in the form of freelance political cartoons for a newspaper here for a long time. Even sarcasm pays off. Go figure. So, what was the question? Oh yeah, advise. Eat right, exercise, and always work on your art with a reckless abandon, other wise you’re going to try and get good, or worst, cute and predictable.
We don't need any more technique artists out there. We need individuals doing their own thing. Their art.
So, just do your art, and be honest to yourself. Forget about the murmuring critics. They critique because they gave up painting.
KIM: When you’re working (in your studio), is there a certain type of music that you work best to? Does it come out in the art?
RP: I do love music, and I love music that sets a tone or mood. Although occasionally I just like to throw on an old Beach Boys tune or Jethro Tull. (Nobody probably knows who the heck I'm talking about). I even like soundtracks of movies. But, my fav’s are from the Narada collections, with Ackerman, Hans Zimmer, and the gang. Also, classical. Most any. I love it all. On this note, if I don't know what to paint, and I'm lost in nowhere's -ville, I can put on any music and it will set a tone for me which I can usually follow with a work of art. I can create just from sound if need be, or by choice of mood, as I can create from, the senses of smell, sight, etc. Art is just not about the eyes. It’s about the soul.
KIM: OKAY, ONE last question. Van Gogh walks in to your studio with a painting under the crook of his arm; what is the painting and what is your reaction to it (or him)?
RP: Hey Vincent .. long time no see. Where have you been hanging out lately? On man, what's that I see, under your arm wrapped in that brown paper? No way... oh man, I LOOOOOVE IT!!! This is so full of mood and movement, I feel like I'm swirling and pulsating like the corn that is twisting and groaning against those black crows stirring up the air like a bad wind. This is what its all about Vinnie!! True direct honest brushwork and paint application with all of the pretentious notions removed of how a painting should be. Beautiful, but strong and decisive. Masterfully done my man! Now, let me make you a coffee. A big coffee! And how about some of those pan potatoes with those little onions I had going in the iron fry pan. Have a seat. I've got a lot to share with you. Do you know that a lot of people today don't even know an original from a print? And,,, oh man this is going to be good. Have another coffee. We've only just begun....
|POTAK: COUNTRY LANDSCAPE|
KIM: Russ, you are wonderful and your art speaks volumes to me. Thank you so VERY much for your time, your awesome sense of humor, your art, and most importantly, our java talks.
RP: Kim, you bring out the best in me. For that, I am truly appreciative. I never talked so much about my art, even to those other newspapers that picked my brain. lol! I think it’s your laid back approach and honesty. A good wholesome honesty. Your welcome immensely, and I thank you from the bottom of my cup of Joe heart.
You can find Russ'Work Here: