Friday, November 1, 2013

Look Where We Are Now ...

Landscape / 'Look Where We Are Now'
30" x 18". Oil on Birch Panel. 2013.
For all inquiries, please contact my studio.

Thank you.
It's been a very long while since the last blog post.
So, I have a treat for you - I thought I'd share the process
of a new piece which I just finished this morning.
This piece was mostly executed with 2 different palette knives,
which is somewhat unusual of me, to favour the palette knife
almost exclusively during the creation of a painting. 
The beginning stage, 'covering territory' as I call it 
was done with one 2" brush, where a dark wash was applied many times,
by turning the piece 'upside-down', so, that the wash could run down the
panel and into the sky region ... giving the illusion of trees in the distance.
Initially, I was very nervous about this piece because it's
a wooded scene and foresty scenes tend to be very difficult to paint.
But, I focused on the piece and as I did, it quickly became fun
and morphed into a rather freeing experience. 
The title for this piece was inspired by the musical tune
'Look Where We Are Now' by Richard Burmer. 
Which incidently and unbeknownst to me at the time of titling my piece,
 the description behind Richard Burmer's 'Look Where We Are Now' is as follows ...

Look Where We Are Now by Richard Burmer. 
"The description of a classic day-dream: In the woods on a summer day, sunshine
breaking through the limbs of trees, lying back and closing my eyes." RB.

I found that to be interesting, because I've listened to the tune on and off
for years and never knew of its background, until now.

The palette with a wash mix. 
Covering territory of the blank panel with paint.
Working the overall composition and values.
Refine tuning composition and values.
Detail of palette knife/paint texture.
Almost finished!!
Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!!
Cheers, ~ Polly ~ 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Artist on Artist Interview with Wade Zahares

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of the Artist on Artist Interview! 

For this month's Artist on Artist Interview I have great pleasure in presenting well-known pastelist and children's book illustrator, Wade Zahares.

Mr. Zahares has graciously agreed to share his thoughts and work on his artistic life with us today.

I first discovered Mr. Zahares' work through the Quintessential New England: Paintings by Facebook Artists group and was immediately wonderstruck. Mr. Zahares' pastels stand out on many levels; with their bright and bold colours, unusual compositions and perspectives, and their wonderful sense of whimsy and imagination. There is more to each piece than meets the eye - every time I look at any given piece of his, I find myself suddenly being transported into an entirely different World of enchantment and wonder, and I find myself wanting to stay and explore. His ability to unite everyday life and whimsy is simply fascinating to me and it stimulates the imagination and creative urge.

Mr. Zahares' work is in corporate collections across the country and has graced the covers of soon to be 8 children's books. 

And now without any further adieu here is Mr. Zahares' interview along with selected works.

Wade Zahares and his works.

Polly: Would you please describe your earliest memories when you realized you knew you were an artist?

Wade: Kids from the old neighborhood where I grew up in Maine would make fun of me as I opted out of playing football and other neighborhood sports to go draw pictures sitting on my bedroom floor. There was just something special about it. On Saturdays I would watch the 60's cartoons, loved the backgrounds and would try to do my own version. My work today still has some of the same qualities.

"My Baltimore Apartment". 1982. Charcoal. 18" x 24".

Polly: Could you tell us about your education and training?

Wade: High school art class is where I got my start with Jan Merrill. I give her much gratitude for pointing me in the right direction. I started my first two years of college at University of Maine at Orono , transferring to Maryland Institute, College of Art, in 1980 where I received my BFA. My most influential teacher at the institute was my illustration, Susan Waters Eller. After graduating I backed packed throughout Europe for several months, before settling in Boston where I started my art career.

Wade Zahares Studio.

Polly: Would you describe your style, methods of working and what materials you use?

Wade: I started using pastel in college, advice from an instructor, a good way to start working color into my charcoal drawings. I never worried about style as I figured that would come naturally as it did. I started with the hard pastels, like Nu and Rembrandt with Canson paper and slowly moved to the softer pastels like Unison and my favorite Schmincke. My paper slowly evolved from paper with no tooth to Kitty Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper. Now to start working in paint of some kind.

"First Snow" 1988. Pastel. 43" x 29".

Polly: Speaking of style, the style you have today is rather whimsical; would you say your style has always had a sense of whimsy or has your style evolved and if so in what ways, and how do you feel about that?

Wade: I have always had a whimsical, humorous side to me. I once took a stand up comedy class but that is as far as that went. My art is just an expression of me. I have a very political side to me too and some of my older work from the late eighties shows this. I am beginning to come full circle with my art and cannot wait to explore this side of me again.

"Working in my studio in the winter time is the best" ~ Wade Zahares. 

Polly: What interests you most about pastel as a medium and why do you make art?

Wade: I love the simplicity of the medium. Tell that to me when I am going out to do plein air especially in the early days trucking around Boston with my easel, pastel box, board and paper, all covered in pastel.

"Kennebunkport" (My hometown). 2011. Pastel. 11" x 17".

Polly: At first glance, your pieces appear to be simplified, however they’re rather complicated; what is the average time it takes you to start and finish a piece?

Wade: My methods have changed over the years and are constantly changing as everything is, adapting to the challenges I am presented with. I start with a sketch of the idea that is developed over a few days, moving on to the final art with a few days on the first layer of pastel, a few more on the second layer, a bit of fixative, workable of course and a few more days for the last layer. The first layer of pastel is the most creative, the second being the most grueling and the last the most satisfying.

"All Night Long" 2011. Pastel. 19" x 27" (Commission)

"Autumn on a Farm". 1988. Pastel. 29" x 43".

Polly: Please tell us about your influences and how you find inspiration?

Wade: In my younger years I was Influenced by Usher, of course for the perspective, Hopper for his subject matter, Monet for his paint quality, and Wayne Thiebaud for his color and composition. Other influences would be Chris Van Allsburg, Grant Wood, David Hockney, Thomas Hart Benton and Alex Katz. But most of my influences and inspiration comes from just living life.

 "My Dog Chip" 2003. Pastel. 35" x 23".
(One of my favorites! ~ WZ)

Polly: If you could try your hand at another medium or genre what would it be and why?

Wade: I am now putting my hands in oil, and acrylic. I love pastels but for many reasons I want and need to move on to another medium. As I get older I do worry about the side affects of the pastel dust, though I have always been conscious of the hazards. Framing is another problem, along with shipping framed pastels which is not an option, Another problem is my fingers just darn ware out, from the rubbing of the medium and when I have 28 pieces for a book due in a few months it can be a challenge. Another reason is that oil and acrylics go for more money, which is always nice.

"Aunt Connie's Place" 2009. Pastel. 18" x 25".

"Fall is Flying By". 2007. Pastel. 23" x 35"

Polly: Aside from your commercial/commission projects; do you have any pastel projects of your own you’re working on?

Wade: All the time. In between books and commissions I spend all my time on my own work which looks much like all my commissioned pieces. I also love to plein air paint, and have been doing it from the beginning, from the Boston/Cambridge neighborhoods to the Maine coast where I now reside.

"My Back Yard" 1986. Pastel. 19" x 25".

The view from Zahares bedroom/studio in Cambridge, MA, his first studio!

Polly: How did you come into illustrating children’s books?

Wade: Back in the 80's I rented one of my first studios in an old warehouse in South Boston on a floor that was occupied by artists. I soon found myself managing the floor of non residential studios, 16 of them, soon to be 48 studios with the build out of 24 more studios in another warehouse across the parking lot. One of my tenants, a graphic designer, introduce me to Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges and her husband, the late Philomen Sturges, who represents Children's Book Illustrators and they both loved my work. It took several years to sign my first contract, but I have been working with her and the staff Studio Goodwin Sturges ever since.

The young artist, Wade Zahares, at 5 years old!

Polly: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Wade: My father, Alcide George Zahares, who died when I was first starting out in my career, and would always said "Son, when are you going to get a real job" to show him that I really do have a "real" job and have had it for the past 30 years.

"Catchin' Dinner". 2002. Pastel. 23" x 35"

"Let's Go Swimming" 2003. Pastel. 36" x 25".

Polly: Who has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?

Wade: My partner of 19 years, just for being there for support through the good and bad times and who never let me quit when I wanted to most. Thank you!!!

Wade Zahares Gallery.

Polly: What has been most challenging for you as an artist?

Wade: Paying the bills. Keeping it fun. To be a speaker. Time management. The loneliness. To be all in one, creator, sales, secretary, accountant, framer, shipper, speaker.....

"The Parlor" 2009. Pastel. 23" x 35".

Polly: Tell us what your thoughts are on what it's like being an artist?

Wade: Good Question. Life is all about finding your passion and purpose. I was lucky and found mine early in life. It's about taking what is inside of me and expressing it so other can enjoy how I see life. Art is what I am suppose to do and that makes me content.

'Four Seasons at Wade's Place.'
Prints soon available

"Spring at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"

 "Summer at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"

Polly: If you were conducting this interview what one question would you ask yourself and what would the answer be?

Wade: By looking at your work you must have a lot of patience. Do you???

I did not have any patience when I was younger. I wanted things right away. Having a career as an artist I realized things take time. You can not hurry the process. I have tried and it fails. Every aspect of the of the journey is in the final result.

"Fall at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"

"Winter at Wade's Place" Pastel. 26" x 35"

Polly: Would you mind sharing something interesting about yourself most people wouldn’t know?

Wade: When I was young, I had three interests in life. Art, flowers and weather. Be careful for what you wish for! I am an artist that raises and sells fresh cut flowers by the roadside and just finished up, what could be my 9th children's book, all about weather!!!

"Windy Day on Goat Island" 2009. Pastel. 11" x 23".

Polly: And lastly, what words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?

Wade: A professor at MICA once said to me , If you're going to be an artist you need to live and breathe art 24/7. It has to be your passion in life. Good advice. Another professor said to me if you're going to paint a house, you have to put everything you have into it. Another bit of good advice. My advice. Do as much art as you can. Set up a daily schedule for your time in your studio. Start now. Keep going and never ever give up.

"Round Street" 1985. Pastel. 19" x 25".

"Windswept Farm" 2011. Pastel. 21" x 34".
A new book in the works.

Polly: Thank you so much for your time Wade! Is there anything else you would like to share with us about you and or your art?

Wade: On November 1, 2013, my 8th Picture Book "Frosty The Snowman" Performed by Kenny Loggins, Illustrated by Wade Zahares will be released. It's published by Peter Yarrow Books, A division of Charlesbridge. It will be selling worldwide. Watch for it at your local bookseller!!!



To learn and see more of Wade Zahares works please visit his website .
Wade Zahares studio is open by appointment, please call 207-499-2465 or email

Friday, August 16, 2013

Plein-air Efforts of the Day ...

'Plein-air Trek!'
Day 1 of 'Plein-air Trek'!
Phase #1. 'Plein-air Trek'
18" x 30". Oil on Birch panel. 2013.
Day 2 of 'Plein-air Trek'!

Phase #2. 'Plein-air Trek'
18" x 30". Oil on Birch panel. 2013.
For the past several months while I would take my morning walk
or afternoon bike ride, I would pass by a number of cute little houses.
And I've been telling myself for all these months .....
 'Oh, I've got to paint that some day!'
I recently got a new Jullian umbrella to make the plein-air experience
a little more enjoyable by being shaded from the Sun
and also keep the light even on the painting itself.
And I also got new hybrid tires for my Trek 4100 MTB!!
For the past few days I've been retro-fitting the plein-air gear to the bike
and also giving it a few test/trial runs before actually senting out.
Yesterday, was the day to try riding the bike with the plein-air gear
and actually setting up on-site and getting familiar/comfy with the process.
I will admit I was a touch nervous at first, but the nerves soon
faded away as I pedalled closer to my intended painting spot.
This piece 'Plein-air Trek' has a few things it needs to be completed
 which can be easily be done in the comfort of the quiet studio!
Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!
Cheers, ~ Polly ~

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When a Gallery and Artist Collaborate.

Binoculars #185. View from East Boothbay, ME - 'Out for a Cruise'.
12" x 60". Oil on MDO Board. 2013. Copyright.
RESERVED for the Sylvan Gallery
I have had the honour of being represented by the Sylvan Gallery since 2005.

And in 2012, the Sylvan Gallery relocated to Wiscasset ME, from Clinton CT,
and since, I currently lack a car, my travelling abilities are somewhat limited.

The owners of the Sylvan Gallery are a wife and husband duo, Ann and Rick Scanlan,
who are both a great pleasure to work with! And since their move to Maine,
there has been talk of me doing a few Binoculars of the area near their gallery.

Rick Scanlan, is also a professional fine art photographer
and he was kind enough to take a few photos of East Boothbay ME
specifically in the Binoculars format for me.

After taking elements from the photos that I naturally gravitated towards,
I came up with a largest Binoculars size yet, 12" x 60". The piece itself came together
relatively quickly because I had study the photos on/off for several weeks prior.

And the above painting is the final result of
when a gallery and artist collaborate!!

Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!!

Cheers, ~ Polly ~


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Artist on Artist: Interview with Dora Atwater Millikin

For this month's Artist on Artist interview I have great pleasure in presenting fellow Lyme Academy Alumni and accomplished painter, Dora Atwater Millikin. 

Ms. Millikin has graciously agreed to share her thoughts and work on her artistic life with us today. Ms Millikin's work is truly inspiring to say the least; every time I look at any given piece of hers, I find there is always something new to learn from paint texture/handling to composition, from use of colours to subject matter ... and the list goes on and on. Her work is fresh and confident. With each new piece, one can sense the constant challenge(s) she presents herself and brings forth great accomplishment. Her ability to marry abstract forms and detailed areas together is simply astounding .... the mark of a great artist.  

Ms Millikin's work has received countless awards, honours, and scholarships. Her work is exclusively represented by Boston's Walker-Cunningham Fine Art

And now without any further adieu her is Ms Millikin's interview along with selected works.


Dora Atwater Millikin in her studio.

Polly: Hello and welcome Dora, it’s a pleasure to have you on my studio blog. Would you please describe your earliest memories when you realized you knew you were an artist?

Dora: Hi Polly, thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog. I don’t remember when I first realized when I was an artist. Frankly in my case, I have never had a choice. I am such a‘hands on’ person and I have to be doing something and creating and inventing ALL THE TIME. I can’t sit still so the office environment would not have worked for me.

Dora's beautiful studio!

Polly: Could you tell us about your education and training?

Dora: I graduated from Sophie Newcomb College (Tulane University) down in New Orleans, Louisiana with a BFA degree in Painting, Drawing, and Art History in 1983. But that art education was very unstructured and I wound up getting another BFA from the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts when I graduated in 2002.

'Down to the Sea.' 40" x 54" Oil on Linen. 2010.  
Polly: Who has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?

Dora: In the beginning it was my parents, they recognized the ‘hands on’ aspect in me. Then, later on and now, my husband Trip has been incredibly supportive.

Dora's well lit studio space.

Polly: Would you describe your style, methods of working and what materials you use?
Dora: At the Lyme Academy we loosely called ourselves ‘Formalists’. A Formalist works very directly with the formal issues and elements of art, in my case painting. I feature form and function as opposed to detail and sentiment in my work. I work from both life and MY OWN photography when I need references both outside and in the studio. I use a Primary Palette and mix my colors like crazy!

'Red Truck' 13" x 24" Oil on Linen. 2005.

Polly: Please tell us about your influences?
Dora: I have been influenced by so many great artists. I will start with all of my teachers at the Lyme Academy and then give mention to all the 20th century modernists, especially American!

 'Stop!' 20" x 28". Oil on Linen. 2009.
Balcony area of Dora's spacious studio.

Polly: What interests you most about painting as a medium and why do you make art?
Dora: I just love the feel, smell, and look of oil paint. Frankly, I know that I couldn’t ever possibly be able to ‘learn it all’. That will prevent me from losing interest and getting bored of the medium. I find painting so challenging and that keeps me interested!

 'Stern' 12" x 25". Oil on Panel. 2010.

Polly: If you could try your hand at another medium or genre what would it be and why?
Dora: I would study to become an Architect because I love to design spaces.

 'Summer Place' 28" x 36'. Oil on Linen. 2011.

Polly: Do you have any painting projects you are currently working on?
Dora: I have many but don’t ever announce details of a project before a contract has been signed! I will open my studio to the public this August 10th – 11th for an Open Studio Weekend called the Art Drive. The ART Drive, places a unique emphasis on a consistent and high level of professionalism and quality and features some of the area’s premier painters, ceramic artists, photographers, jewelers, and woodworkers. Several of the open studios will also host guest artists from outside of the SouthCoast.

'In Front'. 20" x 66". Oil on Linen. 2013.

Polly: What has been most challenging for you as an artist?
Dora: Being so alone at times. Being an artist is largely a solo journey and it can become lonely.

'Stacked Up' 20" x 66". Oil on Linen. 2013.

Polly: How has being an artist changed your life and if so, in what ways?

Dora: Honestly, since I have always been an artist I would have to say that it has not changed my life rather, it has given me a very glorious career to chase, it has given me a purpose.

'Rolling Through' 22" x 66". Oil on Linen. 2013.

Polly: Not many artists are exclusively represented by one gallery but your work is by, Walker-Cunningham Fine Art of Boston, can you share with us what that is like and its benefits?
Dora: I am very fortunate to have Walker-Cunningham Fine Art as my representation and advocate. They have landed venues for my work that would have been very difficult if not impossible for me to get on my own. Having the representation allows me more time to paint and less time to‘pound the pavement’. It also provides tremendous incentive to work!

'The Getaway' 24" x 36". Oil on Linen. 2005.

Looking down from the balcony area into Dora's studio space.

Polly: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Dora: Betts Boroughs Woodhouse, a lady who I knew growing up in my town. She came out of the Art Students League in NYC and she sculpted me several times when I was young. I knew her before I was very serious about art and I could ask her so many questions now!!!

 'Cranes' 16" x 16". Oil on Panel. 2010.

Framing area in Dora's studio.

Polly: If you were conducting this interview what one question would you ask yourself and what would the answer be?

Dora: What does it take to be an artist? And my answer is: Dedication, application, determination, education, heart and soul and a little bit of luck!

Looking up at the balcony area.  

Polly: And lastly, what words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?

Dora: Recognize that you ARE an artist, BE YOURSELF, and don’t EVER quit!

 High Summer. 16" x 32". Oil on Linen. 2005.
Polly: Thank you for your time Dora! Is there anything else you would like to share with us about you and or your art?

Dora: Thank you so much Polly, I hope to see you soon! Dora.

... and that you will, Dora, I'll be seeing you at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Sept 6, 2013; for the opening reception of the Alumni Exhibition. Looking forward to seeing you as well!

Thank you, again for a most wonderful interview and I wish you the very best with your Artistic Life!

To see and learn more of Dora Atwater Millikin and her work please visit her website and or