Watercolor artist Elaine Daily-Birnbaum’s abstract work, An Afternoon Story, took second place honors in the “What Do You Love?” Competition featured in the June 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist.
She says the impetus for her award-winning work was her desire “to rework a painting that was less than satisfying and had been stymieing me for a while. I love the richness of this piece, and I’m glad that I was able to keep so much of the character that first excited me.”
Daily-Birnbaum, who works intuitively, shares her thoughts about her work as an artist, as well as her artistic process:
What’s your greatest asset as an artist?
For me, it’s the luxury of being able to paint just for myself, with no external pressures to produce a product. It allows me to truly enjoy the process. I’ve also developed a strong intuitive sense that I’ve come to rely on and trust implicitly.
What’s your greatest artistic challenge?
It’s my tendency to overthink and overanalyze my work, particularly too early in the painting process. It immediately tightens me up, so I have to work really hard to avoid that.
What’s your favorite part of the artistic process?
From putting down the first brushstroke to adding the final mark, I love all parts of the process. Some parts are definitely more frustrating, but I wouldn’t forego them, because I always learn something, and I always come out at the other end. I really love the unfolding of the interactions between the paint and the paper and engaging in a conversation with the media. And it’s a two-way conversation. Where I go with the paint comes from what I’m in tune with or see happening on the paper. I’m also a problem-solver, so I like to encounter challenges in the work that place new demands on me and my skills. Of course, all artists are problem-solvers. The real art lies in the identification and resolution of problems, not in the application of paint. The decisions we make define our art—and make it personal.
What’s the most interesting thing about the way you work?
In order to control my tendency to overthink, and to occupy that critic constantly looking over my shoulder, I listen to books on tape (typically a good mystery story) while I’m painting. This keeps my left brain engaged and my right brain free to play with paint. Interestingly, mysteries aren’t a genre I choose to read otherwise.
For a more detailed description on Daily-Birnbaum’s winning work, and to meet the other winners and honorable mentions, get your copy of the June 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist.
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