Coffee brews on this rather cold, and dreary post holiday Sunday. In the background on TV as I stare at the blank laptop screen; plays the humor of Jerry Seinfield's, "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," which is an American web series talk show directed, and hosted by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, distributed for the first nine seasons by digital network Crackle, then moving to Netflix for season ten. The series premiered on July 19, 2012.
Today, The Savvy Artist, a.k.a (Matthew R. Paden) is pleased to introduce Oklahoma artist, Madeline Dillner. Madeline describes herself as a traveling artist based out of Norman, OK. Who likes diving, driving, painting, and probably you. With a spunky personality she also happens to be the President of the Mid-Del Art Guild.
The Mid-Del Art Guild was founded in October of 1973. Their purpose is to encourage artists, and art appreciation in Eastern Oklahoma Country through the promotion of visual arts, lectures, and demonstrations along with fine art shows.
I first stumbled upon, Madeline's eye-catching, evocative body of work in the spring of 2019 at my Savvy Palette sponsored show, "Bold & Vivid" which took place at Water's Edge Winery in downtown Oklahoma City along the now trendy section of Automobile alley. Captivated by her astonishing work; I wanted to know more, so I struck up a impromptu conversation, and decided I needed to interview her... Not only do I share a passion for the arts with Madeline, but I'm also a certified advanced PADI diver...
So without further adieu...
Who Are Your 3 Biggest Art Influences, and Why?
1. "Monet - Because he is the first artist I ever learned about, and I love that you can only see the whole picture when you back out far enough, so its like life. My parents were very into France when my sister and I were little. We watched Muzzy videos to learn French. I'm named after Madeline, the red-headed French girl in the children's books. We'd watch Rick Steve's videos about France, and I used to read the book Linnea in Monet's Garden a few times a week. So yes, I will always love Monet.
2. "Sari Shryack - She paints in acrylics and her paintings are of everyday things, but they're full of beauty and joy and pink!" http://sari.studio
3. "John H. Burrow - He was one of the few acrylic painters at the Arizona Fine Art Expo in Scottsdale in 2018, and I fell in love with the impasto textures, and bright, bright colors of his desert landscapes. http://burrowfineart.com - I'd love to paint like John, and Sari and be as famous as Monet someday!"
What Does Your Work Aim To Say?
"The world is beautiful, and awesome (in the archaic sense of the word) and you should get out and see it! I aim to spread a deep feeling of peace and harmony and joy into the viewers of my work, because that's what I feel when I look at the scenery I paint."
Does Your Work Comment About Social, or Political Issues?
"No. Those are in a separate compartments for me. The most political thing about it would be that I am trying to make people love the world, and see as much beauty in it as I do, so maybe they'll be kinder to it."
The Savvy Artist is defiantly pleased to hear this. Being that we're inundated with social, and political issues daily it's a true pleasure when art, and the artist behind the art doesn't feel that is a necessary to make their creations social, or political.
Pondering a thought; enjoying a tasty sip of coffee...
As most artists know; the art world can be extremely tough. Down right scary at times. We as artists face tons of rejections, and lots of false-hope promises - with that said,
Would you recommend today’s youth to be an artist?
"Absolutely. You don't have to go full on and be a professional artist, where you have to manage the business and sales and stick yourself in the studio every day, although if that's what you want to do, by all means, do it. And be sure to learn the business side just as much as the art side, or you're going to struggle. But, to do art, you don't even have to show your art to anyone. but I think everyone should at least play at it, young or old. You might surprise yourself."
We need to encourage more art in this crazy tough world we live in. Art is beauty, and beauty washes away the ugliness all around us.
Is the art profession what you thought it would be?
"Well, I am only a part-time artist, so the popular vision of an artist painting feverishly for hours or days to reveal a piece that makes people gasp and throw money at me is not my reality. I don’t have hours or days of uninterrupted time, so I have to squeeze in an hour a night or so, after the dishes are done and before my boyfriend reminds me I need to sleep.
It’s much more of a discipline than I thought it would be. Forcing myself into the studio, even if there’s chores left undone around the house, or if I really want to just watch TV. Sometimes all I do is clean my work area a little and then draw something fun on my phone, but I try to create something every day. Getting started is always hard. Whether its laundry or a new art commission.
But if you can form a habit of going to the studio every day and at least making something small, you bypass the decision-making process, so that going to the studio is habit, and getting out the paint is habit, and grabbing the painting is habit, and then you can just flow. You build up a practice of that, and after many small sessions, you have something."
What steps have you taken to develop your art career?
"At first in spring of 2016 I created alone in my house with no network, and googled and YouTubed everything I was curious about.
"At first in spring of 2016 I created alone in my house with no network, and googled and YouTubed everything I was curious about.
Then in winter 2016 I joined an art class at Rose State, a painting class for adults. I was hoping to receive formal instruction because I’d never had it, but it turned out it was more of an open studio. Still, I learned so much from the other students. With googling, you don’t know what you don’t know, so you can only go so far. When other people dump knowledge on you, it’s so much better.
Then, many of them were members of the Mid-Del Art Guild, and they convinced me to join because they liked me. That was October of 2017. The Guild has demos and workshops every month, all for the low-low membership price of $35/year. There, I finally got a taste of that formal instruction.
They must have really liked me because in July of 2018 they asked me to be their new president. I was hesitant to do it because I was so new and I also work a full time job, but they convinced me to do it by telling me it wasn’t much work! Haha! Well I’ve never met a project I couldn’t overkill, so for me it is a lot of work, but I have a great team and lots of help, so I can delegate a lot.
Plus, I get to meet tons of amazing artists and develop my skills and knowledge of the professional world that way. So it’s worth it to help make cool interesting events happen for people.
And through all of this I entered my work in shows to gain experience and knowledge and contacts (people!).
To build my skills I watch lots of YouTube videos, and bother artists I like on Instagram for tips and tricks.
So my keys to success so far: people, practice, and YouTube!"
What are your thoughts on the lack of art movements these days?
"There are so many people in so many places doing so many things. And we all have a voice. That's never happened before. So we have small movements everywhere. And who knows, maybe in 20 years people will look back, find a theme, and give us a Movement name."
Your thoughts, or feelings about the now famous banana taped to a wall?
"I'm just mad that of all the things that someone who had $100,000 to spend purchased, they purchased that. If they did it for shock value or to be a meme, that just kind of makes me go blegh to our instafame society. They could have donated it to a cause. Now that I've read how much work and thought the artist had put in on the concept itself, I'm less mad. But still irritated. Just at the buyer, though, not so much at the artist."
Does social media play an important role in your art career?
"Absolutely. People are buying a connection to my story and me and my adventures as much as they are buying a piece of art, so I want to tell that story. Plus the dopamine receptors in my brain love the positive feedback. Mirror neurons = if I can inject emotion, joy, awe, into my painting, then people who look at it can download that feeling. Even if they don’t buy it, they walk away feeling happier."
Do you consider yourself more of an art leader, or follower when it comes to producing art?
"Follower, I guess. The things I do aren't that radical."
Favorite subject to paint, and why?
"Deserts. There are so many colors and its so stark. The colors are in big blocks. I guess I like deserts too for that matter. The geology is so gigantic, and the expanses are vast. There’s lots of good chiaroscuro in both stark landscapes and city scapes. I’m especially a fan of bright-colored bungalows and brutalist architecture, when it comes to cityscapes. There are so many lines and angles!"
Any current art world trends that you follow?
"I don’t know if it’s a trend, but I love brightly-colored grounds!"
If I gave you a blank canvas with red and black acrylic paint and asked you to paint me something chaotic - what would you paint?
"Probably a red sky, and a black silhouette skyline of a burning city, crumbling to rubble. Doesn’t get much more chaotic than the apocalypse."
Describe for me one of your best artist moments?
"The moment I finished a giant 5ft x 7ft kraken painting—a commission for my friend who owns the Sea Shanty Dive Shop in Norman. She asked me to paint it for her after seeing my 3in x 3in post-it sketch of tentacles. I said yes, but my imposter syndrome was like, “What are you doing?? You don’t know if you can do this??
What if it’s terrible??” Well it turned out I could do it, and it wasn’t that hard, and it was beautiful. One night as I was leaving her shop I heard the voice of the kraken talk to me (her name is Yemaya). Finishing that painting was a major boost to my sense of artist self-efficacy. Plus it looks badass in her shop."
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what does your playlist consist of?
"Sometimes. It depends on what head-space I’m in. I want to feel something on the scale of peaceful to ecstatic while I paint, so what I put into my head depends on what’s already there.
Sometimes I listen to nothing. Sometimes I’ll listen to some music; mostly something high energy and upbeat like The Browning or Colin and the Crows. If I want to hear people talk, I listen to favorite TV shows. Parks and Rec and New Girl are my favorites. Or I listen to YouTube videos of painting techniques. I really like voices I don’t have to respond to."
"Simply Orange high pulp orange juice. Or maybe good horchata."
Tell us something odd that only family, or perhaps a best friend knows about you...
"I’m a huge fan if metal music and used to go to a ton of concerts. One of my exes and I would drive down to Dallas on weeknights, pick up a concert for like $15, then drive back. It was exhausting and exhilarating.
I love being able to feel the music in my entire body, which you totally can with metal. The Browning is my favorite metal band, followed by Northlane and Terranaut and of course Rob Zombie puts on a hell of a show. The weird thing? Somehow, despite playing my metal at asshole volumes going down the highway, I have perfect hearing—doctor verified in 2019. That’s the power of ear protection."
Are you originally from Oklahoma? If not where...
"Nope, I hail from Winnebago, IL, where I was a lovable nerd known for my drawing skills."
Do you aspire to move to a bigger, perhaps better art city? If so - what city, and why?
"Move? No. Sell my art in? Yes! I like living here. My family is here, I have a great job, I have a great network of people, we have a small International airport that is less than 30 minutes from my house (important), and we are within a day’s driving distance of most of the places I want to be, art-wise (Taos, Santa Fe, Austin, New Mexico, Eureka Springs). New York galleries aren’t my dream. I don’t necessarily dream of being well-known and in giant galleries; I just want to sell enough art to fund my travels. Hopefully to fund fancy travels!"
Describe for us your work? Why do you do what you do?
I paint the beauty around me. If I see an composition in the world that takes my breath away, I photograph it, geotagged, of course (I’m a geographer and GIS Specialist by trade). Then I paint it, and I’m not interested in realism. I will blow up the saturation of the colors to match the warm, joyful, awe-struck feeling of the moment. Or maybe that’s my excuse for not really knowing how to mix colors! Haha. So in a nutshell, my work is exaggerated impressions of place. Or something.
If you could step inside the shoes of a famous artist from the 1960s who might you be?
"Frank Lloyd Wright! I want to live inside my works on art. I love the lines and tiny details in his works. Plus, my dad was a structural engineer (he’s a PC specialist now), and I remember looking at blueprints that he’d bring home back in the day. So yeah, I’d like to be an architect!"
As an artist - what would be a dream come true for you?
"My dream is to start painting the thousands of photos from my travels, and for them to come out exactly as I envisioned them, and for them to sell quickly for lots of money, so I can go travel to more incredible places. Making and selling art is a means to an end for me, and the “end” is world exploration. It just so happens that I really love the “means”, too. The travel and the joy and freedom and peace I feel while exploring a new place are what fuel the good vibes of my paintings. I think people feel that when they look at my work, and they want to be a part of it. I’m happy to do that.
Bonus -- I included a picture of a hurricane map I made in a MOOC for the GIS software I use. Guess you can say I have a favorite color scheme. Data is beautiful!"
Well that wraps up this months Featured Artist article. Please feel free to submit story ideas, or a artist who might fit well as a featured artist on this site. Until then be creative, and enjoy the process!