Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview with Polly Seip, Maritime and Landscape Painter

I am pleased to have the honor of featuring another wonderful artist as part of my “Artist Interview” series.  Polly Seip is a highly skilled painter whose work has always inspired me with its interesting formats, its intuitively captured atmospheres and its delicious colors!  Seip specializes in maritime paintings and landscapes.  She is currently represented by the Cate Charles Gallery, the Sylvan Gallery, and the Trade Winds Gallery. 

Seip painting plein air

Gavin:  Please describe your earliest memories as an artist.

Polly: As I can recall, my earliest memory of being artistic was when I was 5 years old. My parents had rented a cottage for a month, along the shores of Lake Erie, in Dundock NY. It was a beautiful sunny day, the waves lapped at the shore, and for the first time I was my own (even though my parents were within sight) it was like a great adventure for me. I spent my time playing in the sand. I mostly remember what happened afterwards, it was in the excitement of having just accomplished my very first sand castle and the prospect of showing it off to my parents. It was a proud and defining moment for me, I had discovered I was an artist. And it’s funny to think now that my first memorable creation as an artist was a sculpture and I have chosen the path of a painter instead.

Sunset and Fog over Winnapaug Pond, 8x48

Gavin: What words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?

Polly: Keep it simple and no matter what happens in your Life, you will always have your art, stay true to yourself and your art, and you and your art will succeed.

Bino #137, 8x48

Gavin: Please describe your style and working methods.

Polly: My style is representational, formatted  in a contemporary fashion. My working methods are balanced between studio and plein-air works. In the studio; I work from drawings, colour and compositional studies, painting exercises, photos and the laptop are use for reference, and with plein-air painting; I work outside and strictly from life. I firmly believe the two methods work hand in hand, one helping the other and this can seen in my Binoculars Series - where I use binoculars (in the plein-air efforts) and a camera (for studio use)to celebrate all watercraft both of historical and contemporary value.

Bino #163, 10x60

Gavin: What has been most challenging for you as an artist?

Polly: There will always be challenges to face throughout life, which is a good thing. The current times seem to be the most challenging; keeping up with the digital-age is certainly a challenge unto itself i.e., constantly having to adapt to the ever-evolving electronics and such, being tech-savvy with pc’s, cameras, formatting images, online facets, etc. Though the greatest challenge of all, still, is getting into galleries. The art world is brimming with many talented and gallery worthy artists, but it’s also full with pseudo artists, making many galleries like an over-saturated sponge, so the task of soliciting/marketing oneself and jockeying for representation has become much harder. 

Bino #164, 8x48

Gavin: What interests you most (in terms of subject and theme) as an artist and why?

Polly: In a nutshell - atmosphere. I have always had an affinity for the sky, water, light, and nature. The genres of maritime and plein-air painting fulfill those interests. Why? Because it’s challenging for a number of reasons and often times challenges help to push one out of one’s comfort zone(s) whether one likes it or not and one is faced with trying something new maybe even taking some risks and when that happens strength and confidence is built, one learns and grows, not only in ones craft as an artist, but in oneself as a person.

Sunlight, Shadows and Snow, 8.5 x 8.5

Gavin: Who has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?
Polly: Over the years, only those who have been extremely close to me, have given and shown support in varying forms, from encouragement and advice to the use of a woodshop to make frames, which I’m eternally grateful for. Thank you.

Bino #166, 10x60

Gavin: Please tell us about your influences.

Polly: While figurative artists have the Old Masters as influences, I have masters in marine art as mine; Jack Spurling and his classic ship portraiture and beautiful sense of light, Montague Dawson and his ship portraiture, wonderful water and skies, and particularly John Stobart, mostly because my Dad introduced me to his fantastic historical maritime paintings. When I was 17, I had the honour of meeting Stobart at his gallery in Pittsburgh (where I‘m from), he pointed me in the direction of the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts for my art education. I also adopted Stobart’s palette, which has colours that are truest to nature; Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Red, Permanent Green, French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, this has being my palette for the last 16 years.

Seip's Palette

Gavin: Why do you make art? Why is it Important? Why painting?

Polly: Because I’m an artist and it’s what I do best, it’s natural, and I can‘t see myself doing anything else. For me, making art is important, because ultimately it means I’m staying true to myself. Why painting, it all stems from my interests and influences, it was the right medium for my needs.

Seip's Brushes

Gavin: Please tell us about a method you have always wanted to experiment with.

Polly: I’ve long admired Pastel! Pastel is a highly underrated medium and there is something so intriguing about it! I took a pastel class in college, so, maybe at some point in my life I'd like to try it again. 

A view of the studio with a work in progress.

Gavin: What does success as an artist demand?

Polly: Being professional on all levels at all times; being your own boss in the studio, producing good work, only showing your best work in the gallery atmosphere, clean presentation of your work, being articulate when dealing with galleries and the public.

Bino #172, 10x60

Gavin: What are the most significant ideas to you in your personal understanding of art?

Polly: Art, like that of Science and Math, is woven into the very fabric of the Universe’s great tapestry and the Artist’s Spirit is a weaver.

Bino # 170, 10x60

For other information on Polly Seip please view the following links: