Winter Trees and Golden Light – Spotlight on Pamela McMahon
In this artist interview painter Pamela McMahon shares some of her landscape paintings, as well talking about her inspirations and ambitions. To see more of her wonderful work, visit her website: www.pamelamcmahon.artweb.com
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I am primarily a landscape and ‘treescape’ painter, who sometimes feels the urge to paint flowers. My aim in painting is to create beautiful images that convey the atmosphere and mood of the places I am drawn to. I live on the edge of the Loch Lomond National Park in Scotland, so have plenty of inspiration all around me. When out walking I carry my camera and I use my photographs as ‘jumping off points’ to inspire my work.
How and when did you start out as an artist?
Although I have been painting for most of my life, I have only recently started out seriously as an artist. Early retirement a couple of years ago allowed me to begin to paint full-time and build up a portfolio. I now exhibit my paintings online.
What training did you have?
Some years ago, I undertook a number of summer school classes at Glasgow School of Art and more recently I have been studying painting and drawing at Strathclyde University, and have been awarded an Open Studies Certificate in Applied Arts.
What has been your best creative achievement so far?
My best creative achievement so far has been overcoming my fear of criticism, and gaining the confidence to show my art with pride.
Who is your favourite artist?
I have many favourite artists, but my most favourite are David Hockney, Matisse, Paula Rego and Joan Eardley.
What are you aiming for?
My aim is to exhibit and sell my paintings to people who will enjoy and cherish them. I am also aiming to keep improving my work.
How will you get there?
I am building my online presence via my webpage with Artweb, Facebook and Twitter. I have found the articles and advice from Artweb most helpful and have taken on board a lot of their recommendations. I am also networking with local artist groups and taking part in online art competitions. As far as improving my work goes, I continually seek feedback from trusted friends and I visit as many exhibitions as I can as I believe it can be good to pick up influences from other people’s work that you admire.
Is anything holding you back?
Time is my main enemy as there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Balancing time between marketing and actually painting is getting more difficult, but the fact is you need to do both if you want recognition and/or sales.
You and art
What sort of reactions do you get to your work? are you ever surprised?
I am often told my paintings are ‘beautiful’ or ‘stunning’ – such fulsome praise always surprises me. It seems people like the way I use lots of glowing colour in my paintings.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
If I am working on a medium sized painting (say 12×16) it could take me around 12 to 15 hours of work – sometimes a bit less, it all depends on the subject.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
That changes according to my mood. Often I just like to paint in silence but sometimes I have some David Bowie or Robert Plant blasting out, and at other times I just love listening to minimalist composers like Philip Glass.
What is next in the pipeline for you? Any new directions or shows coming up?
I have a solo show of my work in a very smart bar/restaurant in Glasgow coming up in October of this year, and I am planning to approach some local galleries with my work before then.
Being inspired by art
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
My work is impressionistic in style and I love the feeling when the painting you are working on begins to ‘speak’ to you, and something beautiful emerges from the darks and lights and daubs of colour. I most enjoy painting scenes that have deep shadows and bright lights – winter sunshine in Scotland is great for that, as is summer sun in Italy. Trees in winter inspire me, but sometimes a beautiful street or building will just ‘ask’ me to paint it!
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My favourite work so far is one that I named ‘Golden Path and Dead Tree’ (above). It is a scene of a wooded area nearby where I live and I was very happy with the way the sunlight ‘glows’ in the painting.
an artist’s advice
Have you got any advice for those starting out as an artist?
Work hard, enjoy what you do – ignore pessimism and don’t wait to be discovered – get out there.