Saturday, March 28, 2015

This Week's Guest Artist, Malia Zaidi, comes to us from Pittsburgh!

Web sites, social media etc:

I met Malia through Etsy's Arteam, she is a fellow Etsyan artist and has been a pleasure to interview. Upbeat, fun, optimistic and thoughtful, and she loves to read!!!

Malia, tell us a little about what you create:

I paint oil landscapes in an impressionist style. My work is often inspired by places I have visited or photos I see, which leave a lasting impression on me. I am particularly interested in creating something that conveys a sense of openness and liveliness through color and composition.

Would you like to give us an inside view of your process or technique?

I generally paint using photos to give myself at least an outline of how the painting should be composed. A thinly tinted wash of pigmented linseed oil is the first layer, then I paint more thickly onto the wet canvas. I started out with acrylics, but found that I like the texture and malleability of the oil paints better. Once I have painted the larger areas, I use small brushes to add details, such as a stroke of white for the sail of a distant ship, or flecks of red and yellow, for fields of flowers.

What did you study and where, or are you self-taught? And/or How did you get started?

I actually studied German and Global Studies, and as an artist am self-taught. I have been painting for quite a while, but my interest in making art began with charcoal drawings.

Where do you do your creative work?

I work in a room in my house, which has many windows and good light (the windows are great, also, to get rid of any oil fumes!)

How often do you get to do your creative work?

I try to complete about one painting a week. It depends on the size. If I am working with very small canvases, such as the 6x6 inch ones, I tend to paint two or three.

How do you get started?

Nowadays, with the internet, it is so great to be able to peruse photos of different places, and to do a bit of armchair traveling for inspiration. I also like to do small sketches to test how an idea might look, without setting it down on canvas.

How do you define art or creativity?

Creativity doesn't have to mean artistry, as far as I am concerned. There are many types of creative thinking and endeavors. Scientists are creative, just as painters or writers or actors are. It is as much about making something as it is about the idea of doing so. I am very flexible when it comes to defining such an elusive concept. A cook can be creative in preparing a family meal, just as (or sometimes more than) an artist, or someone typically associated with creativity.

What motivates you?

On most 'painting days' I do not need special motivation. Painting is relaxing and enjoyable for me. I do it for myself and for my family, not necessarily for my business, thought of course if all three align, that is quite exciting.
The sensation of mixing oils, of finding the right consistency, and even the motion of working my brush against the canvas, serve as motivation to remain consistent in creation of new work.

Do you find drawing or sketching to be an integral part of your process, why or why not?

I like to draw, but I do not do more than a rough sketch, or often just an outline of what I intend on painting. Independently of painting, I like quick gesture drawings or smeared charcoal sketches, just to toy around with other media on occasion.

Are there any particular artworks or artists that surprise you, inspire you or repulse you?

Good question! I am a docent at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and have, through my studies there, been able to gain a grudging appreciation for a fair amount of contemporary art, which previously puzzled or irritated me. Nonetheless, my favorite artists remain the big name Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists: Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Van Gogh. I am also quite fond of the ethereal Pre-Raphaelite works by Leighton and Waterhouse, as well as some Rococo artists such as Fragonard (his 'Girl Reading' and 'The Swing' are definite favorites).
Essentially, color, light, and movement are all aspects, which make a work of art intriguing to me.

Can you tell us about some of your successes and challenges?

I think there is almost always a point when I am painting, where all I see is flat planes of color, and I feel certain this one can be scrapped. For the most part, that feeling changes, once I start applying details with smaller brushes, or add texture, but I think some uncertainty is not such a bad thing. I tend to feel a painting is a success when my family enjoys it, and I am very fortunate that they are an encouraging lot.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?

Sites like Etsy and FineArtAmerica make sharing art and creative projects a communal experience, which I found intriguing. Deciding to put my art up on these sites was a decision initially motivated only by the desire to share, to receive feedback, not so deeply focused on the business side of things. That being said, I think my paintings can appeal to people simply because they are cheerful and bright, and my hope in creating them and for people choosing to have them in their homes, is that they will function almost as a small window to a place with a blue sky and sunshine.

Is there an artist or person either fictional or real you would most want to meet? What would you want to do with that person?

Good question, there are so many. I suppose it would depend a bit on my mood:-) I would like to meet J.K. Rowling, because I grew up reading her books like so many of my peers, and it would be fun to just have tea with her and chat about books and all sorts. The artist Andy Warhol would also appeal to me, as someone who seemed clever and witty, and who didn't take himself or his art too seriously.

What book are you currently reading/or/ do you have any favorite books or books that "changed your life"? What did you like about it/them?

A dangerous question for someone who is as book-obsessed as I am:-) It is hard to choose just one, but a few of my favorites are Pride and Prejudice, The Princess Bride, and the Harry Potter books, which were a big part of my teenage years. I am a writer, too, so reading is very important to me. I am constantly reading and looking for new books, which can have a considerable impact on creativity and imagination. I look for strong, intriguing characters. If the plot is intersting, that's another plus, but for me it's about the characters and their development.

Tell us which artist either currently living or from history would you most like to have dinner with. Where would you eat, what might you order and what would you talk about?

I think I would perhaps meet Gustav Klimt. We would go to Café Central in Vienna, and have cake and he could regale me with stories about his sitters, all those society ladies, and their secret affairs:-)

What are you currently working on or have recently completed?

In terms of paintings, I am working on seascapes inspired by a recent trip to Cornwall, England. I love painting a broad expanse of blue sky meeting blue sea, and adding a quick white dash for the sail of a ship or the long craggy shore with a small patch of the beach and fields of green and yellow beyond.

Do you have any other creative pursuits/outlets?

I am also working on getting my first novel, a historical mystery called, "A Poisonous Journey" published, which hopefully will happen by summer. So keep an eye out, please!

What is the most interesting thing about you?

Oh, I don''t really know what to say... I was born in the US, but spent much of my childhood in Germany, where my mother is from, which has certainly shaped who I am. We often traveled, and go back every year, and it is from these trips that I often get my inspiration for paintings.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks for reading! And thank you, Sue, for featuring me on your blog!

The pleasure is mine Malia! Thanks for your fun and thought provoking answers.


Malia said...

Thanks, Sue, it was a pleasure to do this interview with you!

Sue Foss said...

You too Malia! Thanks :)