Pamela Fenwick, painter and graphic designer

Pamela Fenwick, painter and graphic designer

Featured Artist interview with painter and graphic designer Pamela Fenwick – January 2019

How did you get started in art?  Did you always know you were going to be an artist?
I seemed to excel at art projects from an early age and loved everything about art, so it was a natural path for me.

When did you move to Leonia?   How does your art reflect your life in Leonia?
We moved to Leonia in 1986.  I often paint outdoors or “plein air” and have painted in and around Leonia often.

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
For me it’s staying true to myself. Not being tempted to paint what will sell or what others think I should.

What is the most rewarding experience you had as an artist?
When I was in sixth grade, I painted a big picture of a polar bear, and it won a prize. Recognition is always fun, but I find it meaningful to walk into a family member or a friend’s home and see a painting I did. A part of me on the wall.

What is your favorite medium, and why?
My favorite medium is watercolor. I have tried many others, but always come back to watercolor.  It is a medium that has a life of its own, so that you have to adapt to it. People say it’s a very difficult medium.  I disagree because if you can learn to work with it, it adds so much to your work.

Who influenced your art the most?
I can tell you who taught me the medium, but there are so many artists who have influenced me. Turner, Hopper, Demuth, Homer, Sargent to name a few. My teacher for 15 years was David Dewey. He taught at the National Academy in NYC. He also did workshops in Maine. I attended those for years. I still do, and I fell in love with Maine.  We now have a summer cottage in mid-coast Maine. Yes, it’s the light, the landscape and all the cliches. I paint outside most of the summer and use what I paint as sketches for my larger paintings.

What inspires you, or where do you find inspiration to make your art?
It can be an amazing art show at a museum or something as simple as a walk on the streets of Leonia. Something catches your eye, and starts the wheels going. That’s my inspiration.

What are you working on currently?
Right now I’m interested in painting the landscape but in a fresh, contemporary, more abstract way. I am a graphic designer, and I try to bring my sense of design to my painting.

You began studying watercolors 20 years ago while you were running your own graphic design company.  What was the biggest difference for you in creating a watercolor compared to creating a graphic design?  Has your relationship to graphic design and painting changed over time?
Great question. In the 80’s my company, Fenwick Design, turned to computers to accomplish what we had done with magic markers, typography books, and paste-up mechanicals. All the spontaneity and drawing skill were no longer needed, and I wanted to find a creative outlet that used those skills. I think it was also a response to the coldness of the computer that led me to watercolor and its sense of freedom.  They are a great balance for me.

photography by Matt Dine