Member Interview: Patricia Obletz

Patricia in her home with dog Clarissa Blanche
What is the first encounter with art you can remember?

My first memory of making art was on August 7, 1948, at age five, when I took a first grade readiness test. Rather than answer some of my examiner’s questions, I drew what she defined as a ‘very fine likeness’ of her earring, and also made ‘lace from paper scraps lying on the floor.’ The adults made much of these events at the time, and, luckily, my mother saved the report.

When was the defining moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?

It never was a question of ‘wanting to be an artist. I was awarded the title of artist as soon as my parents heard about my readiness test exploits. Soon after that, they sent me to paint with a professional artist. Because my mother framed my first painting, and I still have it, I have evidence of my first brush stroke: puddled black ink that thinned as I continued to outline the tulips on newsprint that my new teacher had set up in a glass bowl for us to paint. Still Life 1948, is on my website and in fact embodies my current style: bold, big, cropped by the edge of the paper.
What’s the one item in your studio you can’t live without?
Oil sticks.

What’s the most useless item in your studio?

How do you get over artists’ block?
I’m rarely blocked for any reason other than physical, or because my day job gets in the way. However, if passion to paint is reticent, I doodle on paper or canvas, looking at outcomes all four ways, continuing to layer on color by color until one subject dominates the whole. By the way, this is in fact how I begin every new work. I also play with my dog, go for walks and look at other artists’ art until once again passion to paint floods me, driving me to the studio.

What’s the one book every artist should read and why?
Other than art history books, I cannot think of one book that every artist should read. Making art is such a subjective experience, that I can say only that the more art I see that moves me in some way, either by energy, color, subject, the greater my store of internal/external influences, which eventually manifest themselves on my support, usually in indiscernible ways.
What do you listen to while you create and why?
I listen to talk interviews by Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, Bill Maher, sometimes Larry King. I play Bobby McFarrin, Sade, Bob Dylan, Alicia Keyes, Mahler, Bartok, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Bach. The talk shows engage my intellect, which is useless when painting until I’ve discovered my subject and it’s time to study it. When it calls me back to it, I again move to music or learn from the talk shows until, often inexplicably, inspiration drops me; sometimes, the phone rings or the oil stick drops out of my hand.
What’s the worst that happened to you as an artist?
In 1978, every painting I attempted turned into muddied, lifeless shapes. Working as supervisor of copy for Helene Curtis sucked dry my creative spirit, which was further beaten into oblivion by the sudden battles both my parents had to fight with cancer. This dry spell/block lasted for 15 years, mainly because I was afraid to risk another failure in the one arena that once always had given me joy and peace.
Where’s your favorite Inspiration Point?
That point of inspiration more exciting than any other is that moment in which I discover my subject and take on the challenge of developing it, never knowing how it will evolve or end. This is the thrill of painting for me. The joy of it. The sating of it.

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