Art, // January 16, 2015
JW Baker – ARTIST
Interview with the artist JW Baker
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is J.W. Baker and I am an Artist.
2. Why art?
Never really made a conscious choice for art, it was just inherent. It has always been the most effective means of communication for expressing those things that exceed the ambiguity of words alone…
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
Never really “wanted” to be an artist since I already was (am) one by nature, but I guess it was around 15 when I started making money selling drawings and paintings that I began to think of myself in the context of “wanting to be an artist” as the only thing I ever really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I guess I would have to say “portraits” is a favorite subject as I like to paint wizards, women and wildlife and my absolute favorite medium is oils, but I really do enjoy mixing media as well – acrylic under-paintings, oils over that, maybe some small embellishments with colored pencil, pastels or even oil pastels. It just depends on the gestalt I am going for.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I like to sneak up on it and take it by surprise! Seriously, the first step is getting that inspiration, and then sketching out the rough idea until I have something I like – after that it is a matter of putting those key lines on the panel and ‘building’ the painting from there. Background first, then work outwards towards the viewer – kind of a three-stage process; block in the basic colors in loose washes, then rough it out with more intense colors and finally go back and fill in the details where they seem appropriate. Music is a necessary part of all of that – must be music and soundtracks make for the best painting frame of mind.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Couldn’t name any specific paintings by title – I like all different styles & types of art except for maybe abstracts. As to favorite artists; Michelangelo, Da Vinci, ALL of the Impressionists, especially Claude Monet, Van Gogh, Jack “the King” Kirby, Joe Kubert, Barry Windsor Smith, Roger Dean, Brian Froud, Alan Lee and of course Frank Frazetta. There are many (many) more, but those come most readily to mind, and of all those the two who have had the most profound effect on my work are Jack Kirby and Frank Frazetta.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
The best response that I have heard many times is; “This speaks to me” – I can think of no higher praise to receive as I take that statement as an affirmation that I am doing what I am here to do and doing it right.
The most memorable thing associated with my work was a small painting of a wizard and a dragon relaxing together I placed in a thirty day showing at this public gallery; the wizard was smoking his pipe, sitting propped up against the dragon who was curled up with smoke coming out of his nostrils like they were sharing some quiet time together – off in the distance was a castle isolated by a bridge of stone… the idea was maybe they battled each other all day long, but when it came time to punch the clock and the day was at an end, they were actually the only ones who truly appreciated and understood the others nature. It was called – “At the end of the day.” When the show was over I took the painting and put it up for sale in a local gallery that sold my work(s). I got a call one day from a woman who had taken her autistic son to that thirty day show, and he had never spoke much or asked for anything, but he remembered that painting and talked about it a great deal – something in that painting spoke to him, so she tracked me down and wanted to buy the painting and was willing to pay anything I asked for it. I went to the gallery and took back the painting, paid the gallery their commission and then gave her the painting to keep as it was always meant to be his all along. Every painting has its owner out there somewhere…
8. What do you like about your work?
I like the gratification of purpose that comes from every finished painting
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Same advice another Artist gave to me when I was contemplating quitting many years ago – “It is a game of inches” – basically “do the work” and the rest will follow, and when you get jammed up, when you get depressed and hit a wall, find other creative people to interact with – they don’t have to be artists per say, musicians, poets, dancers, whatever – just being around other creative people lets you know you are not alone and that no problem is insurmountable; sometimes all you need is that different perspective other creative people can inspire (or provide)
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Given the economy that is hard to say – the smart-ass answer would be “5-10 years older” – so given the unforeseeable variables, maybe the question should be; “where would I like to see myself in 5 to 10 years?” and the answer would be; still painting, with enough work to always be able to keep painting until they have to pry the brush from my cold dead hand…